Lime interview - Theatre
This Christmas Theatre Royal Stratford East will be transformed into a magical winter wonderland as they present their adaptation of the Panto favourite Robin Hood.
Combining the timeless story with a contemporary and fresh script and original music. It’s a show that reflects the dynamism of London’s vibrant communities, something that is guaranteed to capture new audiences through its innovative storytelling.
Lime caught up with Stratford East newcomer Oliver Wellington who takes on the heroic role of Robin Hood. Here he shares his excitement at winning such a pivotal role, revealing what its like to work with such a diverse and talented cast and how working with a film and TV legend fresh out of drama school was an exciting yet daunting experience.
Congratulations on winning the role of Robin how did you feel when you won the Part?
It felt great and I am actually really exited and looking forward to it. I have never done Panto before so to be offered a lead role in one that is so original and so diverse has been an amazing experience, something I can really get stuck into. It’s the biggest theatre role that I had so far and It’s great to work with actors that have been given characters that are really out there, confident, charming, and optimistic.
How is the cast coming together?
We are all coming together brilliantly. One of the major things about this version of Robin Hood is the way this production has been cast
They have consciously selected a cast that represents London and most of the UK. All our different personalities and quirks work well together and everyone has really made there part their own. Basically we are like a misfit bunch!
Describe a typical working day when preparing for the show?
We start at 10 o’clock, and then do a physical warm with an amazing choreographer called Omar and he gets us jumping around the place. If you weren’t a wake before the warm up, trust you definitely will be by the time he’s finished with you! Then we do a vocal warm and then we do a run through the production straightway and after that individual characters will go and work on specific parts of the show.
What are the highs and lows of your job?
I think the highs are working with great people. On this production we cry with laughter at least once a day. Everyone is so funny, especially Michael Bertenshaw who is playing Prince John, he is absolutely brilliant and he cracks us up every single day
If there are any lows and there aren’t many, it would be the challenge of doing something that you have never done before. The challenge is in Panto in itself, I have no idea what it is going to be like, I’ve heard it s going to be quite a vocal audience. With kids shouting out allsorts, I’m kind of apprehensive about that but excited at the same time. So I’m not sure if that is a low.
You’re from Manchester and you trained at the Oldham Theatre Workshop can you name any alumni who has studied there and went on to do really well?
There are loads of people that have come from the Oldham Theatre Workshop, Marsha Thomason, Anna Friel and Sarah Lancashire. Most of the past and present cast from Coronation Street.
What was it like to work with film and TV star Brenda Blethyn on the hit serial drama Vera?
That was an amazing experience. She was so good. It was quite scary because I didn’t meet her beforehand I met her for the first time about 5 minutes before we done our scene together. I found myself just watching her; she is so professional but also really down to earth. One minute she was just laughing and joking with her phone out being quite crude with the crew and everyone and then she would just switch into character. It amazing to see the way she can focus so quickly.
That must have been quite daunting as one of your first jobs straight out of drama school?
Yes it really was, because your first thought is oh god I wish this had happened a bit later on in my career as I would have been more on it, but now I think it was a great thing that I was thrown in at the deep end with someone as great as that. I’ve seen how its done and done well first hand if I could hopefully take just a pinch of some that experience then I know I will be alright.
If you weren’t an actor what would you be doing now?
I really liked English when I was at school. We had this school newspaper that people who wanted to write wrote for I really enjoyed doing that.
I’m quite a political person as well. Most actors that I have ever met have something that they want to say or something that they want to fight for. We are all very passionate people. I think I would have still had that same drive but it would have been expressed in a different way. If I didn’t get into drama I think I would have trained as a journalist.
Who inspires you?
I don’t have any huge out there role models but people from everyday life inspire me. Nadia Albina who plays Marion is such an inspiration. She has part of her right arm missing but that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing a career in acting. She is also a busy mum of four and she hasn’t let anything or anyone hold her back. She’s my biggest inspiration at the moment and I have only just met her. I find that people with big ideas that just go for it inspire me.
What advice would you give to anybody trying to make in the industry?
I would just say be kinder to yourself because you might face a lot of setbacks and a lot of rejection but you always just have to believe un yourself and work hard. That’s what I have learnt from being a year out of drama school it’s something that I have had to teach myself.
Even though you will be working throughout Christmas do you have any other plans for the festive season?
No not really, just making sure I eat lots of turkey on Christmas day and get plenty of sleep! And then get back in the theatre the next day.
Will you on your own this Christmas?
Yes my family are in Manchester so I will be spending Christmas alone for the first time, but I am gong to meet up with a couple of actor mates of mine who are also doing shows. We are probably going to have a big semi grown up Christmas!
Finally what are your plans for 2016?
Get in the gym more that will probably last about 3 weeks!
Robin will run at Theatre Royal Stratford East from Sat 5th Dec 2015 - Sat 23rd Jan 2016
Actor Lucian Msamati takes on the role as the foreigner in his homeland.
Paul Trouble Anderson