Wellington finally gets to France

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Martin Wimbush with Karen Archer as Harriette Wilson

Last month, I went to France, to a beautiful medieval town called Cordes-sur-Ciel (similar to Rye, set up on a hill) nestled in the south, near Toulouse. I’d been invited there by a group of theatre enthusiasts, to perform my play, Miss Wilson’s Waterloo, at the Theatre Le Colombier.

Martin Wimbush as the Iron Duke

The play, an adaptation of my own one-man play, Wellington, examines the relationship between the Duke and Harriette Wilson, a celebrated courtesan of the period and played brilliantly by Karen Archer. The whole project had been set up by our director Ellis Jones, who had been to the theatre previously and arranged for our production to be presented there, just for one night, on April 21.
It was a lot of work for one night, but good to exercise the acting muscles again and, of course, to see a beautiful part of France – what you might call, a busman’s holiday. We were extremely well looked after by Donald Douglas, an English actor, and his wife, Emma, who have a beautiful house overlooking the rolling countryside. They, along with a lot of other ex-pats, have formed a company to present shows at the theatre.
It was packed out on the night we played, although it was rather a surreal experience, as the whole audience was completely full of English people, not a French voice to be heard – no, I tell a lie, there was one Frenchman and he was a fireman. Of course, all the derogatory jokes about Napoleon went down very well, but not with the fireman!
Anyway, the next day I had a lovely day sightseeing around the town and the following day an equally nice time looking around Toulouse, before I went back.
So, I now prepare for my next show, which will be Shakespeare and Me, at the Rye Arts Festival, on Sunday September 23 at 4pm. It’s a personal journey, in which I rediscover the parts I’ve played and explore the ones I haven’t, with plenty of funny stories and jokes along the way. I hope you can make it. Au revoir.

Photos: Ellis Jones

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