Actor / Writer / Director / Voiceover
John H Francis is a graduate of the classical acting program at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). He has worked extensively in theatre, radio, television and film both in the UK and the USA.
He began working in weekly rep at the Wimbledon Theatre and after appearing in Equus at Watford Palace and King Lear at Birmingham Rep, he played Morgan Evans opposite Annette Crosby in “The Corn is Green” at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford.
In London’s West End he appeared in numerous highly acclaimed productions including the World Premiere of “Bent” alongside Ian McKellan at the Royal Court Theatre and the Criterion, the Welsh National Theatre’s Production of “Under Milk Wood” at the Mayfair Theatre, Peter’s Gill’s production of “Julius Caesar” with Robert Flemying, Anthony Head and Phil Daniels at the Riverside Studios.
Whilst working with The English Stage company at the Royal Court theatre he was fortunate enough to meet Samuel Beckett who was rehearsing with Billie Whitelaw.
Under Milk Wood
“Under Milk Wood was an amazing experience. JOHN FRANCIS hit it right out of the park! Captain Cat was really something! Extremely moving and humorous!” – Gordon Trevitt
“Your work was superb!” “You really outdid yourself this time” – Susan Lowenberg Producing Director , L.A. Theatre Works
“The performances of both Kate Burton and John Francis were a master class in how to tackle poetic language as an actor” – Anna Lyse Erikson Associate Producer, L.A. Theatre Works
LATW Production ‘Under Milk Wood’
Under Milk Wood at the James Bridges Theatre LA
John with Rob Brydon
Laura Evans and Kate Burton
Morgan Ritchie and Matthew Rhys
LA Theatre, Berkoff & Pinter
He played the lead in Steven Berkoff’s highly acclaimed and award winning production of “Greek” in Los Angeles , Off Broadway in New York, in San Francisco and on tour in such theatres as the La Jolla Playhouse in California.
For his performance in “Greek” he won the LA Drama Critic’s Circle Award and the Bay Area Drama Circle Award. He owes a huge debt of gratitude to international star of stage and screen and fellow countryman Richard Burton who having seen his work , lent his support to a visa application for him to work in television and film in the USA. Recently he appeared in “School for scandal” at the Skirball Centre in Los Angeles and played the title role in Pinter’s “The Caretaker” at the LA Actor’s company.
In London, he has performed the poetry in Pablo Neruda alongside Royal Academy of Art’s acclaimed artist Peter Griffin. Most recently he played opposite the Royal Shakespear’s Compant Reike Ayolah in Karl Francis’ “Bedwas Boy Mandela” at Chapter Arts in Cardiff.
Davis in ‘The Caretaker’ at The Actor’s Company LA
Film, Theatre, TV and Radio
“Your good work and spirit were greatly appreciated….we look forward to working with you again.” – Steven Bochco, Executive Producer NYPD Blue
“Your Performance of Shakespeare was absolutely perfect. I’ll look forward to see you on the stage someday and to working with you again.” – Debbie Allen, Director ‘A Different World’, ‘Fame’.
“John Francis’s work is terrific and our only regret is that there wasn’t more for him to do. I wish he could get more work because he is so good.” – Junie Lowrie Johnson, Casting Director
FILM APPEARANCES: Monty Python’s “Yellow beard”, Mel Brooks' “To Be Or Not To Be”, Blake Edward’s “Son Of Clouseau”, “Prince Of Thieves”, “Fire” and most recently “Live at the Fox’s Den” with Elliot Gould. “Invasion Roswell” with Denise Crosby, Daniel Hugh Kelly and Greg Evigan.
RADIO CREDITS: “Torchwood”, “School for Scandal”, “Under Milk Wood”, “Lifeboat” and “Wagoner’s Walk”.
TELEVISION CREDITS: “NYPD Blue” , “Star Trek New Generation”, “Dallas” , “Hotel”, “Remmington Steele” , “General Hospital”, “Santa Barbara”, and “Capitol”.
BBC SERIES: “Civvies” , “Between The Lines” , “Oliver’s Travels” , “Dangerfield” , “Casualty”, “Maybury” with Patrick Stewart. Mini Series include “Casablanca”, “Dream West”, “David” and “Jesus”.
John H Francis has been a member of the acting and performing community on stage, radio, TV, cinema, video games and doing voice overs for over 40 years. He has worked extensively in the UK and US entertainment industries and is currently developing an independent film, ‘South of Madonna’, as a writer and lead actor.
John as master of Ceremonies, with Welsh film maker Chris Monger, at St David’s Day celebrations, Chateau Marmont Hotel, Sunset Blvd LA
John has been an established voice artist for over a decade. His work spans the Atlantic and encompasses work for the foremost movie trailer companies in Hollywood , video games, broadcast promos, TV and radio commercials in New York, London and Cardiff. Renowned for his gravitas and rich, sonorous tones, as well as a comforting Welsh lilt, and much more besides. His versatility has helped him build an expansive body of voice work.
As a writer/director is shooting and starring in a independent film “South Of Madonna” in Venice Beach, California. In the theatre he has a one person show in development, “Land of Flowers” that has already received very encouraging responses from audiences in LA and the UK. He won the Korda Film Award for a screenplay “Deep Secrets”, chosen by Lord Putnam and to which, international film star Julie Christie has lent her support.
LAND OF FLOWERS
Starring Siobhan McGovern
Written and Directed
by John H Francis
“I was recently privileged to attend a preview in Los Angeles of LAND OF FLOWERS, a courageous and imaginative first play, written and directed by Welsh-born actor John Francis Harries, a thirty-year veteran of stage and screen, whose numerous credits range from student productions at Reading and LAMDA to London’s Royal Court, the Actors’ Gang in Los Angeles and parts in movies such as Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.
His leading lady, Siobhan Mc Govern, a newcomer to the Los Angeles stage, delivers an almost iconic performance as Kitty, the central figure in a lonely, at times understandably manic narrative that stretches the length and breadth of all the challenges facing a white, middle class woman in the American South from the Great Depression to the end of World War Two and the dawn of the Civil Rights movement.
Harries’s powerful production elegantly captures, with neo-Brechtian literary and theatrical mastery, sweeping from poignant comedy to heart-wrenching verse, punctuated by occasional song and dance numbers, the very spirit of a nation, the struggle and agony of an archetypal American experience. LAND OF FLOWERS believably recreates not only the suffering, but also the ultimate awakening and enlightenment of his central character, with poetic vividness and palpable authenticity.
LAND OF FLOWERS is a very promising and fascinating debut from Francis, as both author and director, and his cast.”
At the Electric Lodge Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles
Reviewed by Daniel J. Nyiri
Daniel Nyiri is a Film Maker and Assistant Professor of Cinema, Media Arts and Broadcasting at Los Angeles Valley College.
“John H Francis’ carefully researched and challenging script is complemented by a sensitive performance from Siobhan Ashe McGovern. The result is a compelling and thought-provoking drama.”
Professor Angela V. John, Historian and Biographer
(Small World Theatre, Cardigan)
“So powerful. The play is on the standard of Arthur Miller. It gave me the same feeling of absorption and emotion.”
Julie Marsden (Small World Theatre, Cardigan)
“LAND OF FLOWERS- lyrical, witty, hard hitting and appropriately uncomfortable. Beautifully redemptive and restoring at the end. A fantastic piece of work. I hope it gathers more plaudits, you deserve them!”
Mark Mordy, Poet (Ffwrn, Fishguard)
“A very original and imaginative take on what, at first glance, would appear a well trodden territory. But your literary embrace of the contradictory elements of Charlottes character create a compelling and highly original, and theatrical experience. Very, very touching, and not without humour. There is absolutely no doubt that you’re a helluva writer!” BRIAN COX, Actor (Churchill)
“Compelling and beautiful. An amazing piece of theatre.” JULIAN SANDS, Actor (Crooked House)
“Great Play. Profound. Clever dialogue. Nice touches of humour”
John Stark, Playwright/Director
“The writing of the entire piece was outstanding and of such beauty”
“Rich, poetic, moving language, At times funny and deeply honest”
Anna Lyse Ericson, Producer, LA Theatreworks
“Brilliant play! Intelligently written. I really appreciated the dialogue and message. The subject matter is intense and graphic in its detail.
I wish you all the best as you move forward to a wider audience and distribution.”
“Thought provoking and therapeutic. The writing is courageous. The journey of the play is controversial and bold”
“It looks at the devastating affects this country’s early race issues had on those close to it.
It is good work!”
“Charlotte – she is a loquacious paradox! She struggles with a foot in both the antebellum South and the New World”
“Well done. You have an excellent turn of phrase and a very sharp ear. I loved the poems!”
Chris Monger, Screenwriter/Director
LA Reviews on “LAND OF FLOWERS”
“LAND OF FLOWERS” is an evocative, wrenching portrait of one woman’s racial awakening in WW2 Florida. John Francis Harries’ script by turns lyrical and visceral and Siobhan McGovern commands the stage, breathing life into a character you’re not likely to forget. A splendid night of theatre, of history, even of song.”
“A delight to see this work being born”
Michael Gerber, Writer
“LAND OF FLOWERS is a moving, thought provoking play that should be seen by a wide audience. Though it takes place in WW2, its universally transcendent themes of patriotism, racism, grief, madness and the creative process resonate today. This play, beautifully written and brilliantly acted- grips the audience from the get-go and never lets go. At once funny and sad, LAND OF FLOWERS takes its audience on a roller coaster ride of emotions and challenges it to think outside the box. A must-see for anyone who loves great storytelling and great acting. Seems perfect for the Mark Taper Forum.”
Karen Kaplan, Writer/Editor/Translator
“LAND OF FLOWERS" A poignant and powerful piece. Brilliant!
David Starling, Photographer
“THE LAND OF FLOWERS” is a wonderfully original, one woman show (almost), beautifully written and most creatively staged. It shines a piercing light on American racism, a dark, violent subject you would think would make for a depressing night at the theatre. QUITE THE OPPOSITE! John Francis has created a thoroughly entertaining, as well as an enlightening evening. His use of music, poetry and humour keeps us engaged, at the same time we follow a grim story of bigotry in WW2 Florida, a time when racism was completely accepted in the American South and all the waiters were “coloured” and called “Boy”. The language by turns is sharp and funny and moments later, rich, lyrical and deeply moving. It is a wonderful evening of theatre!
Priscilla Davis – Writer
“THE LAND OF FLOWERS” is a dark, powerful and engrossing elegy that tackles all the complex and conflicting aspects of racism, grief and nationalism and leaves you thinking and talking about them, long after the final curtain!
Jim Piddock – Producer. Writer, Co-Writer with Christopher Guest MASCOTS (2016)
The Matrix Theatre, West Hollywood
UK Reviews on “LAND OF FLOWERS”
”LAND OF FLOWERS is as moving as it is eye opening and it’s really very funny too. John Francis’ script effortlessly moves the audience from empathy to discomfort as the central character gradually reveals the depth of the inherent racism that permeated 1940’s America. Siobhan Mc Govern portrays Charlotte’s emotional journey and character evolution through loss, grief and madness excellently and with sensitivity, moving the audience to tears and laughter as we hung on her every word. It was hard to believe that we were just seeing a reading! Some really clever script devices and use of set and sound. Look forward to seeing this piece in its final incarnation.”
Gwen Watson, Director Programmer (SPAN Arts)
“LAND OF FLOWERS was an extraordinary experience. I went twice and was profoundly moved each time. It showed the evolution of a woman in history from shallow socialite to social pioneer, via profound loss, alcoholism and trauma. It was immaculately acted, a fantastic piece of writing. Nothing was exaggerated. I did not expect one actress on stage alone for almost two hours with minimal physical events to be so utterly gripping and moving. The minimalism was part of the power and the evolution of the personality an inner drama the audience shared. You could have heard a pin drop at every moment of the play, perhaps with the exception of the start where the character was a shallow socialite telling too many jokes. At this stage, one felt, is this going to be worthwhile? But then events crowded in and the very superficiality of the character added power to what she became . I think everyone left feeling they too had changed.”
Vicky Moller, Author
“Having only ever seen Siobhan “playing it for laughs” I was not prepared for the intensity and depth of feeling she engendered. She took the script, beautifully wrought by John Francis Harries and effortlessly made me cry and laugh and cry again. A simple story, tackling so many complex human emotions, delivered with powerful restraint. I was at their mercy and left enlightened, uplifted and humbled.”
Anne Sears, Artist
“Siobhan Mc Govern’s solo 90 minute performance was a tour de force. I was completely immersed in 1940’s wartime, prejudiced deep – south America. Siobhan’s Mc Govern’s acting and John Francis’ writing and directed are to be congratulated. It must be seen by a wider audience.
Reg Atkinson, Historian
“A sleepy corner of the remotest part of West Wales. The kind of place you while away wet childhood holidays waiting for the sun to make the briefest of appearances, recently transformed itself into the sultry backdrop to a powerful one woman show, the likes of which you usually associate with off Broadway scene stealers. But that’s exactly what Siobhan McGovern became as she commanded the stage in this funny, yet challenging, Southern States set period piece confronting racial disharmony in the middle of the last century.”Land of Flowers” written and superbly directed by John Francis, the production saw McGovern transfix the audience for almost two hours with the scantest of set and audio design, in a four act tour de force of character acting, perfect comedic timing and provocation. There’s no denying that at times, the story takes the audience to uncomfortable areas as McGovern’s habit of delivering the most intense part of the play off the stage, down at eye level, almost mingling with the audience, is not for the feint hearted- it’s both shocking and thoroughly moving. “Land of Flowers” is beautifully written and has unearthed a rare talent in Siobhan McGovern, who under the playwright’s subtle direction, shows what is possible with a great script and a great talent.
Definitely one not to be missed!”
Tim Walker, BBC Producer, Director
I found this play very moving in its portrayal of the segregation and racism that took place in America. The main protagonist’s attitude towards people of co lour was illustrated beautifully in the speeches she gave during her society fundraising events. Watching the characters views and attitudes change through the tragic events in her own life and those of another mother (who was of color) humanized the time of segregation and showed both sides of a divide which should never have existed. The humanity that prevailed in the metamorphosing character was movingly portrayed by Siobhan McGovern, who held the audience captivated with her portrayal of this woman whose life had suddenly fallen apart. The backdrop of the political situation plus the inclusion of contemporary thoughts to do with electric shock therapy and psychoanalysis, referenced so many things contemporary to the time this play was set in – 1945 WW2. This added another layer of meaning which ran alongside the main story of a segregated America. A great play, would love to see it again. The writing was outstanding, as was the acting!
“I went to see the production of “LAND OF FLOWERS” at the Newport Memorial Hall, really to support what was going on at the hall. A play about racism in the Southern States of America in the 40’s just seemed so depressing that normally I would give it a wide berth.
It was in fact, a fascinating performance ! In this one woman show, Siobhan McGovern’s stage presence and power to hold an audience was astonishing and her ability to convey the transforming power of extreme suffering, from arrogant bigot into compassionate human being, totally believable.
The lyrical quality of John Francis’ writing and beautifully crafted lines made this a truly inspiring experience!”
“I was completely riveted by Siobhan McGovern’s performance of ”LAND OF FLOWERS”,so much so that I went to every performance . I was surprised and engaged with the subject which was a refreshing approach to prejudice and civil rights in the deep South of America. The use of the space being partly on stage and in the front of the auditorium and moving between the two, enlivened the delivery and allowed the audience to almost participate, as the setting was a party and we were sat at tables with nibbles and drinks, which was a comfortable situation for an audience. The sound effects were excellent, adding to the atmosphere of wartime, which was already very evident in the costume and the props as well as the Memorial Hall with its tributes to the fallen, being really unchanged from that time.
All this set the scene for an excellently well written play and a stunning performer!”
Penny Jones, Film Director
“Siobhan McGovern’s rural Virginia upbringing in the Blue Mountain hillbilly country gives her authenticity in this one woman play set in Florida amidst the racism of 1940’s deep South. This is “Mississippi Burning” from the point of view of an intelligent and caring woman who is sucked into the racism through tragic events beyond her control, but who comes through mental hospital and goes on to help in the movement for civil rights for black Americans. Moving and authentic, it is like entering the mind of someone of that time. You can feel the heat and hear the bullfrogs croaking.”
“The racial theme was quite shocking, but drew the audience in. My attention was held all the way through.”
Lowri Evans, Folk Singer, International Recording Artist
“I wanted to say how brilliant your performance was in ”LAND OF FLOWERS” by John Francis. I saw it just after Christmas and was thirty nine weeks pregnant when I went and wasn’t sure I’d sit out the whole show, but you and it were so enthralling, there was no way I was leaving early.”
“I was deeply moved and captivated by the production of “LAND OF FLOWERS”. The play was funny, pertinent, shocking at times and gripping. John Francis’ narrative whisks the audience along and I was lost in the world of the Southern States. The performance by Siobhan McGovern was very good indeed and I look forward to its development.”
”Land of Flowers” was a powerful and provocative piece of theatre delivered by Siobhan McGovern in a solo performance that was both a feat of endurance and a beautiful study of dramatic expression. Her depiction of the senator’s wife whose poetic soul, straight jacketed by her public role and the tragedy and injustice of inter- racial relations in the deep South that the plot unfurls, took the audience on a painful but nonetheless, rewarding journey of redemption. The script, whilst still in development, deserves a wider audience and the performer would benefit from more time to totally inhabit what is an extraordinary challenge for a solo performer. I would very much support any application to develop this piece further in order for it to gain a wider audience.
Rowan O’ Neill, Play Critic
I think this piece has loads of potential for further development. The dialogue and script itself could explore further the interesting and extensive subject matter- for example there is potential to research and use documented racist material from the era and social context, such as racist propaganda in community magazines and communication of the time. The subject matter is one that is completely captivating to an audience far removed in their reality from the piece’s context. The play itself works so well as a one person piece- and even more if physical theatre, stage choreography and spacing is developed. Watching a woman with all the superficiality of keeping up appearances and maintaining ideals of decency, degrade down through emotional pressure and then to be reborn with a new down to earth nature and empathy through the experience is fascinating and can be related to by many. This is an exciting production with huge potential!
Jemma Wiseman, Writer
South of Madonna
John is currently filming South of Madonna, a project that he has written and directed independently.
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