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The Ensemble – interview

Blog / The Ensemble – interview

An interview with our Student Performer Mark Wilson.

What made you first want to do a beginners acting course at Darlo, when did you do your first course and what other courses have you done?

Funny story. I was at a charity ball where, after some charitable drinking and dancing, I got pretty enthused about the silent auction. Next morning, I woke up with a gastronomy package, a theatre package which included the Darlo level 1 course and a less-than-charitable hangover.

I started level 1 in November 2015 and never looked back. I initially thought it would just be a bit of fun and help me with presentation skills for work. In truth, it provided me with a great outlet to temporarily escape a demanding and stressful job, taught me many essential life skills, introduced me to some fantastic friends and of course, I ended up getting totally hooked on acting.

I’ve since done the other beginner courses, Actor’s Lab, the American Accent Masterclass, the Ensemble Showcase, as well as an improvisation course which can come in pretty handy when something ‘unplanned’ happens on stage!

How did the courses you completed at Darlo leading up to the Ensemble prepare you for the experience of doing a full play?

The beginner courses give you all the foundations for doing a full play – starting with the all-important monologue, getting down some scenes, working through transitions on stage and of course acting techniques, warm-ups and understanding your character.

Actors Lab takes it all to another level. It gives you the tools to really develop a character and produce something believable for the stage. These are critical tools you continue to develop well after the course is completed. I can’t recommend Actors Lab enough and I know every student in my class would say the same.

I hope Glen is reading this, because that plug must be worth a drink or two, right?!

We have received great feedback about the recent production you were involved in, what do you think it was it about the production of Myth that made it so successful?

It was the perfect recipe of a very hard-working, talented and dedicated cast that bonded well and looked out for each other, a masterpiece of a script by Stephen Sewell and one incredibly focused and committed director in Glen. He’s a bloody genius, you know.

We did quite a number of extra rehearsal sessions whenever we could – during our days off, before and after the scheduled rehearsals and to help out new cast members when required. That shows how dedicated everyone was to the show’s success.

A lot of us also worked hard to promote the show which meant we got some big, receptive and generous audiences. Nothing gives the cast a boost like playing to a full house and it creates a better audience experience too.

How would you describe the process of working on the ensemble show? What did you most enjoy?

We spent a good amount of time initially analysing the script, to understand the writer, literary and historical references which provided the context for the plot, the subtext and the various characters' needs. This all took place before we launched into running the scenes.

When you’re working with a great script and a terrific bunch of people that whole process is really interesting and a lot of fun. I genuinely looked forward to every meeting, rehearsal and script run and never missed any. I even went uber-nerd and got into reading Kafka and a bunch of other stuff referred to in the play to develop an even better appreciation of the text and of my character.

It was really rewarding to see it all come together as we did the tech and dress rehearsals and seeing Glen’s brilliant vision for the show come to life. Since we wrapped, there has been one really big ensemble-shaped hole in my life.

It’s difficult to pick any one aspect because I loved it all, but I think I most enjoyed performing the shows then getting feedback from the audiences. I mean, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? We converted a number of non-theatre goers and sceptics over the course of the four shows, so we must have done something right!

Tell us a bit about how you found the role of Talbot as an actor?

Talbot is the classic tragic hero, a courageous character who clings to his principles and beliefs at the expense of everything else in his life. Like so many historical figures who, as Margurite says in the play, “stood and burnt for the truth” he demands your admiration and respect. It was only natural to connect and empathise with him as an actor. It also helped having a passion for the political and philosophical subject matter that preoccupied Talbot, so it didn’t need to be faked.

Talbot is a huge role to learn, act and rehearse with the cast, so it was split between Andy Singh and myself. I took so much from developing the character with Glen and Andy and interpreting the brilliant Myth script. I also got a lot out of seeing how Andy approached Talbot in act two to adapt my own approach for act one. It was a unique process and a fabulous experience.

What advice would you give to anyone considering auditioning for the ensemble?

Glen is partial to a red wine 😉

Seriously though, I would suggest following the recommended Darlo path and doing Actor’s Lab first, because you will come out of it a much better actor to be at your best for the Ensemble.

The Ensemble is a big commitment, so ensure you (and your loved ones) are ready and available to give it your all. If you are ready to commit to it, it will give back a thousand times what you put in.

What advice would you give to someone considering doing any of the Darlo courses?

Do it… because the alternative is a lifetime of regret. I personally wish I had started on this path a lot sooner.

Go to every class. That’s actually what you pay the fees for, right?

The more work you put in early on to get off-script will pay big dividends, as you can spend more time finessing your performance. Not knowing your lines also puts extra pressure on your scene partners and the whole cast, so put in the work out of respect for them too!

Everyone gets busy, so make sure you prioritise and allocate time to learning your lines as often as you can. Use the line learning apps. They really do work and they give you more opportunities to learn lines while you are doing things around the house, exercising or while on the road.

Lastly, during the Ensemble I reflected on my days as a guitar student when I once had to be reminded not to stop “playing” guitar, because it’s the playfulness that helps you learn new tricks and provides most of the enjoyment. The same is true of acting. Don’t forget to unleash your inner child, laugh, have fun and don’t take the “play” out of the play!

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