We spoke to drama student, Newbury Youth Theatre graduate and Hampshire local, James Schofield ahead of his performance in Bristol Old Vic Theatre School's Under Milk Wood this June.
How did you first get into acting?
I was quite an awkward and attached child so my lovely mum decided to put me in a drama club to get my confidence to come out a little. Turns out it worked. I was taken in by the adrenaline of it all and carried on from there.
You were part of the Newbury Youth Theatre – do you think that this helped in your application to Bristol Old Vic Theatre School?
Absolutely. The relentless work that Tony and Amy Trigwell-Jones and Robin Strapp do is brilliant. The sense of play and storytelling I learnt at Newbury Youth Theatre were such useful skills and the experience of Edinburgh with NYT was incredible. There is no doubt that Tony and Amy's teachings helped shape me as a performer. I should probably tell them that.
You have performed at the Corn Exchange before – tell us a bit about that. Are you excited to be back?
The Corn Exchange is a lovely venue, last time I was here I was doing The Curious Incident of the Uglie Wump and before that Just So Stories. Both with Newbury Youth Theatre. Many happy memories. Hopefully the old piano is still sitting in the green room waiting for a pre-show tinkle.
What character do you play in Under Milk Wood?
My character is a tourist, namely Jack, from the south of England who comes to a pub in the welsh village of Laugharne - where Dylan Thomas wrote Under Milk Wood. From there I become involved in telling the story of Llareggub, the fictional welsh fishing village in which Thomas created his world. I also get to have a play jumping in as Willy Nilly, the notoriously nosy Postman who reads all the post, and Dai Bread the baker with two wives!
Do you feel like you personally relate to your character at all? If so, how?
My base character Jack who was created in rehearsals, really has a love for the language and an endearment to the characters of the play. This is something I really relate to being a Thomas fan myself. To be honest the tourist is really just a more refined version of me! As for the other two... I'm not so sure. I suppose I share Willy Nilly's love for a cup of tea.
Under Milk Wood was written by a Welshman, and is set in a Welsh fishing village – do you perform in a Welsh accent?
A little. The majority of the cast are welsh throughout but alas the tourists are strangers so I reside mainly in the home counties with my accent. However I certainly get a fair crack at the natural sing song of the welsh.
Why do you think Under Milk Wood is such a popular play?
It's a piece that encapsulates what's beautiful and charming about the simple things in life. Partly written as a reaction to the horrors of the Second World War, it serves as a reminder of love and life and humanity. The characters are eccentric, relatable and loveable. It was Thomas' life work, a time capsule of his experience of home and has a place in so many people's hearts regardless of where they're from. Not to mention the language, so many brilliant quotes to get your chops into!
Of all the characters you have ever played, which one has been your favourite and why?
Hmmmm.... I took part in a 24 hour plays event at Bristol Old Vic. Bea Roberts, a hugely talented young writer wrote a brilliant comedy script overnight. She generously handed me line after line of excellent one liners. That was a lot of fun.
On the more serious side of things, Konstantin from The Seagull will always have a place in my heart. Along with a cold hearted Lieutenant in Widows, a play set in 1970s Pinochet Chile.
So sorry, that's three.
Looking forward, if you could take on any acting role on stage, what would it be and why?
Richard III. Because who wouldn't want to be a murderous little sh**?
Big question – what are your plans for the future?
Well next year is my final year at BOVTS, I'll be sad to go, but onward to hopefully signing to a good agent and getting some good work. London's calling, I expect moving there would be a wise move for me.
You can catch Bristol Old Vic Theatre School's Under Milk Wood at the Corn Exchange on Tuesday 27 June, 7.30pm.