Actor Daniel Donskoy: “A Song Goes Round The World is my response to Brexit and my stance on being very, very European in London 2017.”

I am delighted that following a successful run at St James’ Studio in 2016, A Song Goes Round The World opens at Upstairs at The Gatehouse this week; from 25 April and run until 30 April. The show is performed and directed by Daniel Donskoy.

Watch and learn, lesser theatre entities. This is how you do it.

Daniel is director of Collaborative Artists, an independent theatrical production company run by Daniel Donskoy since 2014. Collaborative Artists’ productions include La Ronde at The Bunker staring Lauren Samuels and Alexander Vlahos, You won’t succeed on Broadway, if you don’t have any Jews starring Sophie Evans, Lloyd Daniels and Sarah Earnshaw (nominated for Best Off West End Production at the 2016 WhatsOnStage Awards). Prompted by Brexit all its 2017 productions will be focused on international pieces of theatre with a particular emphasis on European works.

I asked Daniel for some of his thoughts on the show, the state of the world, auditions and more. They make for ‘quite a read’.

Daniel Donskoy

Daniel Donskoy

Hi Daniel! How are you doing?
I am very well thank you, Carl! I just moved this week and am enjoying my new neighbourhood a lot and of course, I am very much looking forward to this week. I haven’t performed live on stage in a while but spent most of the last year in front of a camera.

In ‘A Song Goes Round The World’ you are performing German, Yiddish, French and Russian chansons. Is there no end to your talents?
I have to thank my family dearly for the language skills. They moved me around quite a bit during my childhood and I feel so lucky to have been exposed to so many different cultures &  languages. Those moves, of course, had pros and cons but also gave me the chance to observe and understand new cultures before settling into them. That had a huge impact and shaped me into the person that I am today.

Is it a difficult process being the director and performer?
The last show I worked on in London before A Song Goes Round the World was LA RONDE in a new adaptation by Max Gill at The Bunker. Everyone’s roles were clearly distinguished – I was the producer and responsible for facilitating the grounds for a successful production. I feel very blessed to have worked with such a fantastic team of people.
Developing A Song Goes Round the World together with Inga Davis Rutter was a different creative process that I enjoyed. Not only are we telling the stories behind the most adored European chansons but it allows me to draw from my background. So if you want to know how it was growing up in a Russian household in Berlin of the 90’s, you should come along.

Can you explain a bit more about ‘A Song Goes Round The World’?
Ultimately it’s a musical odyssey through the most adored European chansons of the 20th century. From Edith Piaf’s ‘Hymn L’amour’, the Yiddish all-time classic ‘A Yiddishe Mame’ through to the Russian ‘Ochy Chernie’. When we premiered at St. James Studio I was astounded by the audience’s participation. They clapped along and it was wonderful to unite people from a huge variety of background and heritages for an evening of music. To become political for a second: It’s my response to Brexit and my little stance on being very very European in London 2017. It is important to never forget that we are far more similar than it often seems. At the end of the day, we’re human beings with not so dissimilar wants and needs.

Daniel in ITV’s Victoria – *swoon* © ITV Plc

You will be joined by a different guest each evening – that sounds fun.
I am so happy and thankful to Jackie Marks, Sarah Naudi and Monique Young for joining me. Jackie is simply phenomenal and was part of A Song Goes Round the     World when we did it last year and we had a really wonderful time sharing the stage. Fun fact: Jackie was the first British Fantine Sarah and Monique are both extraodinary performers both of whom I have met in our days at drama school this will be the first time we perform together since then.

Do you think we are living in quite a topsy-turvy time at present?
Please don’t get me started – I try to not read the news sections almost every day but then it feels like putting your head in the sand. The inevitable move toward the right all over the world can seem very scary. I think with all the influx of information we are being bombarded with it has become more difficult than ever to know what’s right and who is telling the truth. As a young artist living in London 2017, I am of course a liberal and centre-left thinking but I firmly believe that the current political systems as we know them will soon change drastically and if we’re unlucky we will soon only reminisce about the times of liberty and freedom. It is so important for every one of us to educate ourselves – to learn to form an opinion – our very own opinion created by listening to different sides of a different story and stop following any belief system blindly – politically, religiously and culturally. Yes, these are times of change and with open-mindedness, we can all make it a change for the better.

What are your top 3 musicals?
1.Cabaret – A musical about my wonderful hometown – I’m biased 😉
2.Les Mis – No need to explain, I hope.
3.Merrily We Roll Along – Sondheim is a genius and if I get to do a musical in the coming years may it be one of his.

The Gatehouse is quite a brilliant London fringe venue, are you excited to be performing there?
Of course. The whole area is so wonderful and the view from the Highgate village down on the city such a wonderful sight, not the way to and from Highgate tube-station. Every time I have visited the Gatehouse the atmosphere was very friendly and the shows were brilliant. I cannot wait to swap sides for the first time at the Gatehouse and be on-stage.

Have there been times in the past when you haven’t liked a show that you’ve been to?
That usually happens when my expectations are too high. Often it’s the material that is the problem. Some show juts aren’t written to be performed but the show that I hugely enjoyed most recently was Hedda Gabler at the National Theatre. I was truly transfixed by it.

What will you be wearing for this performance? The costumes for ‘Victoria’ were very stylised — like that photo of you in the fancy jacket.
I’m singing in German – I am naked of course. Or maybe just that Jacket from Victoria with nothing underneath? – it’s a surprise.

Blimey. Which is the best bit of ‘A Song Goes Round The World’?

The moment when the audience joins in to sing – music can bring such unity and see the audience smile or shed a tear. That’s the beauty of cabaret: the interaction with the audience.

You are quite tall aren’t you.
6”3 to be exact or 190cm (the European way) stage lights and I have often had problems before – I remember one particular show at the Arcola Studio 2 – I just kept walking into that light during every blackout.

Tell me about audition. I love hearing about auditions.
Pretending to be eaten alive by pigs in an audition room was probably my moment of stardom. But honestly, I LOVE auditions. When you’re an actor you have to say that or you’ll get stressed – well that is my way of seeing in. I try to enjoy every opportunity to embody a character be in on stage, on screen. Though my ultimate  favourite audition parody is the video ‘Fiery Angel’ GOOGLE IT NOW!

Is there anything that you’d like to add?
Thank you for taking the time to chat to me and I hope to see you at the Gatehouse and see you clapping along in the front row.

Naturally. Cheers, Daniel! 😉