60 seconds with... Daniel Cahill
Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Daniel Cahill, who stars as King James IV in James IV: Queen of the Fight, which premieres in Edinburgh this September before heading out on a national tour.
What drew you to James IV: Queen of the Fight?
Daniel: I played James IV in the production of James III: The True Mirror. So having such a strong connection with the plays, with the characters and everything we went through the first time around, it kind of felt like I just couldn’t say no to it - it still felt like I wasn't finished with him yet. By the end of the third play, he's just becoming James IV, and so to have time pass in the world of the plays and also in the world that we are in, it's quite a cool thing to be coming back to.
What do you think the importance of this story is, especially in a modern setting?
Daniel: Rona’s got this amazing ability to articulate the pulse of the world when the world needs to hear it. There’s so much that's going on in the play about how people treat people, how people treat foreigners, how people treat neighbours. So much goes on in it. And it's about perception; about understanding each other and, at the heart of everything, how people talk to each other and treat each other. When you look at the parallels that are drawn in this play with the historical events that are happening right now, it's remarkable.
What do you love about being on stage?
Daniel: The earliest memory I ever had wanting to do live theatre specifically was when I was a kid and used to watch my dad telling stories at family parties - being five or six, and looking around at my family's faces as they were listening, hanging off every word. I always wanted to just do that. So I guess what I love about being on stage is I get to do that. It makes me feel quite close to my Dad.
The joy of telling stories and talking to people generally is just why I love theatre. You don't really get that on film, TV sets – there are a lot of people there and you do everything over and over again. Something quite magical about theatre is that it only happens that one time, that one day. If you want to see again, you come back the next day.
How would you describe this show to someone?
Daniel: From the beginning, it's like a wild horse that’s just got out. It can’t stop, it just keeps going. It’s so exciting to read. From right at the beginning and all the way through, you're presented with so many questions. It's really fulfilling because each of those questions get answered and each of those arcs resolve and are really satisfying in an unexpected way. It’s not quite the same as the previous plays, It's about a wider story, a global story being told, which was very much what James himself was like, he was a global king. The previous James plays were very much Scottish history plays whereas these plays are more like a European history play.
Rona Munro is a bit of a living legend – how do you feel about working with her?
Daniel: I think every Scottish actor should aim to be in at least one Rona Munro play. She just gets it. She can articulate the voice of the nation so effortlessly, and to be able to speak her words through the characters, these historical figures, is a great privilege and a great honour.
How do you prepare for a role like this?
Daniel: James is quite a remarkable athlete for his age according to some of the feats that are written and attributed to him. I come from a martial arts background, quite an intense one. So I understand a lot of the mindset around what goes in to the kind of situations that James is in, in these plays. Also, I’m trying to have a lot of awareness of how someone like that is perceived in the balance of being the King, and the consequences of what he's trying to do for the country. But I think for me, the one thing that I keep thinking back on is the consequence of action will be something I'll think of it a lot.
What excites you the most about this production?
Daniel: The reality is that I very much came up as an actor through the original plays, in this theatre. After the plays finished, I went out, graduated, and cut my teeth a bit more. To be able to come back and play a character who has aged with you off-stage is an opportunity that very few actors will ever get. Even when I was reading the script with Laurie and Rona, I instantly felt it was something quite special. So that's what excites me the most - to bring him back to life and bring his story specifically is an exciting prospect.
All images shot in the Festival Theatre on the day we also shot the main promotional image (below).
James IV: Queen of the Fight has its world premiere in the Festival Theatre this Autumn, before embarking on a national tour. Tickets are available here.