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Interview with Stefan Butler 2009

Stefan Butler

From All the Fun of the Fair to Birds flocking together. Stefan Butler explains why The Liverpool Playhouse production Kes is such an enduring story that’s so right for the times.

The bittersweet story of one boy’s love for the kestrel he trains will be flying onto the stage of the Liverpool Playhouse ahead of a nationwide tour with an acclaimed cast and director and the help of local schools. Lawrence Till’s adaptation of the 1968 novel A Kestrel for a Knave will be presented by a cast including Daniel Casey,Sgt. Gavin Troy in Midsommer Murders and Katherine Dow Blyton who plays Sally Hunter in Hollyoaks. Yet of all the characters in the story, it is young Billy Casper which draws the most attention. In this production the role is played by 22 year old Stefan Butler and he can’t wait to get started. ‘It is always great to be working with experienced actors as you learn so much,’ Stefan explained. ‘This will be my second job with director Nikolai Foster who is amazing to work with and audiences can expect a highly original and honest stage production of Barry Hines’ classic novel. It is so well written its a story that can be appreciated by all ages and generations. Stories of people achieving against the odds will always be popular, especially when everyone in their world is against them. Look at David and Goliath or Billy Elliot. However there is a sad truth about Kestrel For A Knave, in that Billy Casper is never appreciated. As an audience member or reader you are willing Billy to succeed only to be met by a heart breaking end.’

Many will have come across the novel at school where, in the mid-seventies and early eighties, it was considered to be almost compulsory reading. However, Stefan knew it first through the 1970 Ken Loach movie version before being offered the part of Billy for this tour. ‘I first saw the film of Kes years ago and then went on to read the book. We didn’t study Kestrel for A Knave at school, but I wish we had. Billy Casper is a person who has dreams, even in a world with little or no opportunity. He finds pleasure in the free things in life, mainly nature and during this time of recession I think everyone can relate to that. He has an amazing free soul that almost everyone ignores and is judged for who he has been and not for who he is now.’

Stefan grew up in Worthing, West Sussex, and his father originated the Durrington Festival ... a week long event that culminated in a massive firework display, music and plays.. At 16 he joined the National Youth Music Theatre, before moving to London at 18 to study at Arts Educational. ‘I first got into acting when I saw my older brother in a school production; I was 8 and wanted to be exactly like him. The following year I was old enough to audition for Durrington Middle School’s summer musical which that year was Bugsy Malone and I played Captain O’Dreary. I got spotted and asked to audition for a TV film, Hancock. I didn’t get the job but knew I wanted to go to Drama School after A-levels.  Whilst studying I performed in Creation with the National Youth Music Theatre and played Blackberry in Watership Down at Regents Park as well as being involved on school productions.’

Stefan Butler with the cast of All The Fun of the FairYet possibly his biggest role to date has been that of Slow Jonny in the David Essex inspired musical, All The Fun of the Fair, which received so much critical acclaim recently and was also directed by Nikolai Foster. ‘It the most fun I have ever had on tour. On and off stage the entire company enjoyed themselves. I made a lot of good friends on that job and we became like a family. David Essex is a great man to be around and a superb company leader, generous and giving both professionally and personally and I loved creating the role of Jonny; its one that will stay with me forever. My most enduring memory is laughing all the time and being happy to be at work.’

In these tough fiscal times, Stefan has some advice for those thinking of following in footsteps. ‘Go for it but be realistic and know what your strength and weaknesses are. Personally I think it’s wise to get an education while you can, but that shouldn’t stop you getting involved in theatre locally and looking into going to Drama School. Oh, and go and watch as much theatre and read as many plays as you can.’

KES by Lawrence Till
Liverpool Playhouse, Friday 18 September - Saturday 10 October 2009
Adapted for the stage from the novel A Kestrel For A Knave by Barry Hines
Directed by Nikolai Foster
Designer: Matthew Wright
Lighting Designer: Guy Hoare
Sound Designer: Marcus Christensen
With: Stefan Butler, Mike Burnside, Daniel Casey, David Crellin, Katherine Dow Blyton, Oliver Farnworth, Dominic Gately, Peter McGovern, Sue Vincent and Oliver Watton.

Ticket prices: £9 - £20 The theatres do not charge any transaction or booking fees.
Box Office:  0151 709 4776
Online Booking (24-hour):

Tour Dates:
Tuesday 13 October – Saturday 17 October             Nottingham Theatre Royal
Tuesday 20 October – Saturday 24 October             Darlington Civic Theatre
Tuesday 27 October – Saturday 31 October             Edingburgh Kings Theatre
Monday 2 November – Saturday 7 November          Oxford Playhouse
Tuesday 10 November – Saturday 14 November     Bradford Alhambra Theatre
Tuesday 17 November – Saturday 21 November     Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
Tuesday 24 November – Saturday 28 November     Cardiff New Theatre



If you would like to comment on this interview with Stefan Butler in September 2009, please feel free to contact me - GUESTBOOK

“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
© 2009 all rights reserved