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My First Audition: Divian Ladwa – ‘it felt like it was all a silly boy’s dream’

Divian Ladwa. Photo: Brendan Foster
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When I left school, I registered in various part-time courses at City Lit. The cost of drama school was beyond me. One of my first tutors there, Mark Phoenix, enlisted me in the improv company Fluxx. I attended drop-in sessions, led by the late Chris Johnstone, where we worked on formats for performing.

I started performing with Fluxx almost immediately, building my confidence through enjoyment. Meanwhile, I was doing another set of classes at the Precinct Theatre, run by Reima Baker. One day, she asked if I would like to audition for my first professional acting job with Tamasha Theatre Company. They were putting on the musical Strictly Dandia, which would play at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh and the Lyric Hammersmith. I had to audition with a five-minute dance piece and be comfortable with improvising. My limited experience had set me up nicely and I took the chance.

I was nervous when I met artistic directors Kristine Landon-Smith and Sudha Bhuchar, but I remember being excited to audition for these people who had established their own theatre company from nothing. The audition was near Waterloo: I went past the National and the Old Vic, feeling like this was all a silly boy’s dream. Perhaps I did not belong here. Maybe my friends and family were right all along.

I had worked my socks off to create a five-minute piece and, whatever the outcome, I wanted to do it, although I had never viewed myself as a dancer. I was far more comfortable with improvising and sight-reading. I found the two artistic directors very warm, welcoming and supportive. I must have done okay as I’ve worked with Kris and Sudha countless times since and they have become very good friends.

CV: Divian Ladwa

Age: Undisclosed
Trained: Various part-time courses in London
TV credits include: Detectorists (BBC4), You, Me and the Apocalypse (Working Title)
Theatre credits include: Child of the Divide (Bhuchar Boulevard), Mad Blud (Theatre Royal Stratford East), A Fine Balance (Hampstead), The Trouble With Asian Men (Tamasha)
Other credits: Films include Lion, 8 Minutes Idle and Saxon; radio work includes Ed Reardon’s Week, School Drama and Romeo and Juliet
Agent: DAA Management

Divian Ladwa plays Mantosh Brierley in the BAFTA and Oscar-nominated film Lion. He was talking to John Byrne

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