My First Job: Actor Martin Delaney – ‘I learned what kindness looked like, and what it didn’t’
My first ever job was in a musical theatre production of Peter Pan at the Cambridge Theatre, Covent Garden. It was my third audition. My first (and second) were for the musical version of Oliver! at the London Palladium, directed by Sam Mendes and produced by Cameron Mackintosh. I just turned up at an open audition and queued for hours. I hadn’t received any formal training but at that ripe old age of 15, I was determined to act, and this was a way in. I launched everything at it.
After my second recall I was approached by an agency for children. With them, I landed Peter Pan but was still being recalled for various stages of the Oliver! auditions. Peter Pan was going into production first so I accepted the project. As a result, I was nudged to the second cast of Oliver! and ended up being part of the next rotation of children, which came in just as I was nearing my final performances in Peter Pan. So I was rehearsing a new show in the day and performing the old one in the evening.
That was my training, working with these wonderful professionals. Jim Dale, for example, was a wonderful influence as Fagin. He was kind, generous and patient. We used to talk often of his time working with Paul Scofield, another influence of mine, whom I had worked with the same year.
I went to the opening of Jim’s one-man show at the Vaudeville in 2015. I’d written him a note wishing him luck and he called me up and invited me along. I remember sitting among his honoured guests who included Kenneth Branagh, Mark Gatiss, Ronald Pickup and Derek Jacobi. It made me emotional, him making such an effort to have me there.
Those first couple of jobs taught me an awful lot. I learned a lot about the kindness of other performers, what it looked like when people had that, and also what it looked like when it was absent. I learned about the power of intention and the effectiveness of one’s own drive. My approach to acting has always been in line with the phrase: if you throw your heart over the bar, your body will follow.
CV: Martin Delaney
Theatre includes: Peter Pan: The British Musical (Cambridge Theatre); Oliver! (London Palladium); The Ministry of Pleasure (Theatre503), Local Boy (Hampstead Theatre), Next Fall (Southwark Playhouse)
TV/film includes: Robin Hood, Outlander, Da Vinci’s Demons, Him and Her, Zero Dark Thirty, Now You See Me 2, Flags of Our Fathers
Agent: Identity Agency Group
Martin Delaney was talking to John Byrne
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