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Actor and playwright Michael Head: ‘There is so much talent out there, but only one you’

Michael Head. Photo: David Emery

I trained with Miskin Theatre company, which was a fantastic training ground for me. My first paid job was being the Wind Up man for the Richard Arnold Show – Tilly Vosburgh recommended me so I was lucky enough not to have to audition. Tilly taught me at London School of Musical Theatre [1], got me my first job and directed one of my first stage plays, and without her I don’t think I would be where I am.

I then fell into playwriting and casting taught me so much about how people think on ‘the other side of the table’. If you ever get the chance to cast something, take it, because you will learn a lot. For one thing, you will discover that being ‘right’ for a role is very different from having talent. If you get the role, it doesn’t mean you are amazing, it means you are right for it. If you do not get the role it doesn’t mean you are awful, it means you were not right for it.

Since taking that on board, I have been more relaxed in acting auditions. Casting for my plays has also shown me the importance of choices. You see so many people in castings that what is said is usually quickly forgotten but actors’ choices stick in the mind. A good example of this is with the current revival of my show The Greater Game directed by Adam Morley.

The play is based on real life Clapton (now Leyton) Orient football players who volunteered to fight in the First World War. In the audition room, one actor made a very different choice from how I saw his role when I wrote it, but it worked. He was then redirected and that also worked. It showed us a strong actor who can make choices and be directed. That actor is now playing one of the lead roles.

I know it sounds cheesy, but if I have any advice it is that there is so much talent out there but only one you. For me it was only after accepting my working-class roots as an actor and playwright that I found success.

Whoever you are, you are a brand and when you audition or have a meeting, you are representing that brand. No one wants to work with an arse and you never know who is in the room and how important they could be in your career.

CV: Michael Head

Age: 35
Training: Miskin Theatre Company, London School of Musical Theatre
Theatre includes: Bring the Jubilee, Ebenezer, Sugared Grapefruit, Alfie, Worth a Flutter, The Greater Game
TV/film includes: Richard Arnold Show, The Side, Kipper Season
Other credits include: Sword and the Dope (musical), Jason and the Argonauts (musical), Ebenezer (radio play) and several adult pantos

Michael Head’s play The Greater Game runs at Waterloo East Theatre [2] from October 30 to November 25.