HOW DID I GET HERE?
Before venturing into the performing arts I spent several years working in the financial markets, but in 2008 the financial crash provided a trigger for me to pursue a new career path. A chance chat with a friend resulted in me signing up for a short course at a London drama school and being encouraged by an offer of a place on the full time acting course, I began to look more seriously at career options outside the corporate office.
After a couple of months regularly swapping the sober suit and formulaic interview answers for audition apparel and Shakespeare monologues – and becoming far more excited and energised by the latter – with a little soul searching, support and encouragement from my wife and enthusiastic well – wishing from close friends, I hung up the suit and accepted an offer of a scholarship on the MA course at ALRA (Academy of Live and Recorded Arts).
12 months later I emerged enthused, inspired and eager to explore where this next life chapter might lead. I soon found myself touring the length and breadth of the UK having secured my first acting job on the back of my end of year showcase. Small beginnings, but I was delighted to be making my professional debut in Shakespeare’s Richard III.
Even prior to training, Shakespeare had always had huge appeal – with universal themes both relevant and timeless; flawed, complex characters, powerful speeches and intricate, detailed and challenging dialogue, I’d been engaged and stimulated from an early age. To find myself at the culmination of the UK tour, performing Richard III at The Tower of London with a view of my former office, The Canary Wharf Tower, in the distance, was both fitting and satisfying. Shakespeare undoubtedly formed the backbone of my interest in the performing arts – his works are something I could never tire of, being open to such different interpretations and production styles; and having played Shylock 3 times I can definitely vouch for that.
People often ask if the career transition was a difficult one and certainly arriving in a new workplace, later in life than most, has thrown up various hurdles. I was very much behind the curve – in terms of graft – and to earn your place at the table, to build contacts and a respectable CV all takes time. My work, initially all stage-based, has gradually moved into screen and significantly into audio. My voice work in particular covers a wide variety of genres from corporate and commercial voiceovers to a diverse range of character roles that are always extremely enjoyable to work on.
Back in the day, desk-bound and confined to the screens in front of me, I don’t think I ever seriously considered a career that would see me creating the voices of Frankenstein’s monster or The Dwarven God Duma or in one fun animation series; an Owl Professor, a dog, a morphing chef and a bizarre inhabitant of a kids’ board game…..unpredictable, demanding and occasionally chaotic – on second thoughts perhaps not such a stark contrast to working in the financial markets!
TWO CAREERS COLLIDE
Undoubtedly one of my biggest challenges thus far has also been the most exciting. In 2018 I was cast as understudy to Adam Godley in the National Theatre’s The Lehman Trilogy. The sheer scope and scale of the piece as well as being in the rehearsal room and observing Sir Sam Mendes with a trio of Stage Greats; Sir Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam developing character and story, provided a thrilling experience accompanied with a fair amount of fear and anxiety. Being an understudy brings an additional set of challenges in any circumstance but having to be primed to step into such big shoes in such an acclaimed production at a moments notice added an extra adrenalin shot!
I am asked occasionally if I miss “The City” – and I can genuinely answer that I don’t – I’ve been fortunate to enjoy both of my careers but I have certainly never had thoughts of returning to the former. It was however oddly ironic to be revisiting my old world to tell the story of the rise and spectacular fall of Lehman Brothers Bank a decade after its demise, marking at the same time the 10 year anniversary of my decision to leave all that behind.
I live just south of the Thames with my wife Dawn, very close to the heart of central London. We’re both keen walkers and cyclists and have completed several lengthy charity bike rides in recent years. Other leisure time is filled when possible with regular gym sessions, the odd game of tennis, if we’re lucky the occasional trip to the ski slopes and also as many cinema and theatre visits as I can make time for!