How did you start in theatre?
Playing Charlie Bates in Oliver!, aged 13 at the Sunderland Empire. I studied at Edinburgh University, performed at Traverse Theatre and edited scripts for a year in Melbourne, before moving to London after graduating, training part time and making a go of being a working actor. I moved back to the North East after three years to start the Actors Forge and develop my own film projects in the region.
What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?
If you can wake up each day and take one small step forward as an artist, you’re always heading in the right direction. Believe in yourself. There are no shortcuts. Work hard, you’re in it for the long haul. And be fearless, creative and kind.
What would you change about training in the UK?
That access and knowledge be made more visible to those further afield and from underprivileged backgrounds.
What is the best part of your job?
The community that is being built with like-minded people across the region, watching them ‘catch the lightning in the bottle’.
And your least favourite?
The hard truths, the rejection. Those who pursue their passion must harden themselves to both.
What is the one skill every successful theatre/dance professional should have?
Resilience, by which I mean, focus, dedication, self-belief, a great memory, a love of the craft, and also money for headshots.
How do you think the industry is changing?
We are watching the industry transition before our eyes. The industry is looking for more than just an actor who can say their lines and look good in the close-up. They are looking for dynamic creative partners who can add value to a project. Write, shoot, edit, produce.
Dan Lemon, creative director at the Actor’s Forge, Newcastle, was talking to John Byrne. Twitter: @ForgeActors