Actor David William Bryan: ‘I actually drink six to eight cans during each show’

David William Bryan. Photo: Holly Wren David William Bryan. Photo: Holly Wren

Actor David William Bryan is taking a one-man show about an alcoholic bin man, written by Sascha Moore, to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. He tells Giverny Masso about getting into character, and how he came to acting later than many…

How did Trashed come about?

Back in 2012 Sascha and I met in a writers’ group at the Bush Theatre and we started sharing work. She rang me with an idea for the play and I encouraged her to write it. When she finished I said: “Well, I’m the right casting for it.” It’s about one man’s inability to express his emotions, inspired loosely by a real-life bin man.

How do you get into character?

Everyone has a different take on what the word ‘method’ means. Where I studied, at Stella Adler Studio, it derived from Stanislavski’s method – it’s very imagination-based. If something didn’t feel believable it was gone, which we’ve also done with Trashed. I access this character through his lack of opportunity. We have all been in dead-end jobs that quickly turn into six months or a year.

How do you play an alcoholic?

I actually drink about six to eight cans during each show. [To counteract that] I’ve been exercising really hard, so by the time August comes along I’ll be in really good shape. I think being forced to do that every day will give me a more believable route into the performance and take it to a new level.

What is it like performing in a one-man show?

It is so different, I would recommend it to anyone. It gives you more control. Before you go on stage you have a moment of ‘what am I doing?’ You really know you will get a tangible amount of work back for the amount of work you put in. I would never get up on stage for an hour if I didn’t think a play was outstanding, though.  

How did you get into acting?

I was 26 before I thought about going to drama school. It takes a while to figure out what you want to do in life. When I left school, I was a professional rugby player, but I quickly left that because I wasn’t happy. Then I went to uni, where I did business management. One day I just thought, ‘I’m going to give this acting thing a bash.’ I had been thinking about what I might enjoy. I went and did a short course, and then I fell in love and managed to get into the Stella Adler Studio in New York.

What is your advice to anyone coming into acting later in life?

It is important to remember you have something invaluable. When you meet someone who has performed their whole life, it’s often difficult for them to dip into raw life experience. But if you go into it late, there is something so raw and truthful – you can think about how to take everything you have experienced and put it into one work.

Trashed runs at Underbelly Cowgate, Edinburgh, August 3-27

CV: David William Bryan

Training: Acting, 
Stella Adler Studio, New York (2009-12)
First professional role: 
55 Days at Hampstead Theatre, London
Agent: Byron’s Management