Actor takes on role of well-known poet and writer in World War One play at KMT

World War One production, My boy Jack is being performed at the Kenneth More theatre.

World War One production, My boy Jack is being performed at the Kenneth More theatre. - Credit: Archant

A family tragedy in the First World War, based on the experience of one of the most well-known English poets and writers, is coming to the Kenneth More Theatre this weekend.

My Boy Jack tells the story of Rudyard Kipling who sends his son off to war as an act of patriotism but soon Jack goes missing in action.

Ian Brown, 60, from Walthamstow, who plays Kipling senior, said: “It is a very dark play that is wonderfully written so it is well worth coming to see it at the theatre as it is one of the those plays that will make you think.”

Ian always wanted to become an actor when he was at school but was put off from following his real dream by a careers adviser.

He said: “I was just told that it was an unrealistic profession to get into unless you are amazing so I shouldn’t do it unless I knew I was going to make it big, which I obviously wouldn’t know when I was that age.”


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So Ian left behind his dream of making films, starring on stage and mingling with movie stars to train to become a teacher at Brighton College of Education. His first job was a primary school teacher in Walthamstow in the 1960s and then a secondary school teacher at Woodford Green Preparatory School, in Glengall Road, Woodford Green, in 1996.

Ian said: “Teaching and acting are not worlds apart from the other as you do have to get up in front of children and in a way perform to them as you read from something like a script to help them learn.”

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But it was after 36 years of teaching that Ian decided that it was time for him to take early retirement and go back to doing what he really loved to do.

He said: “Acting was always my passion as it is a great way to express yourself and I do enjoy taking on challenges and putting my own spin on the different parts that I play.”

Ian began working at different theatres in the area including the KMT. He was performing in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in February when he was asked by Steven Day, the director of My Boy Jack, to take on the lead role.

Fate

He originally had to turn it down as he had accepted a part in Living Together at the theatre. But as the leading actor of My Boy Jack could no longer play the part Ian stepped in.

Ian said: “It was like fate if you believe in that sort of stuff! I wanted to do this role as it was challenging and something different for me to get my teeth into.”

The play, by actor David Haig, is based on a poem Kipling wrote after Jack went missing in the battle of Loos in 1915 aged 18. Joe Bence plays Jack. Ian said: “It was great working alongside Joe. He’s a young star in the making.”

He added: “There are a few funny moments but overall it is a really dark play. If you’re used to seeing comedy shows then don’t expect to come to the theatre for a rib-tickling performance. My Boy Jack has an excellent story, an excellent script and I hope that I will be able to bring something new to this role.”

My Boy Jack will be performed at the theatre in Oakfield Road, Ilford, tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday night. Tickets Tickets: £14. Concessions £13. Call 020 8553 4466.

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