LAMDA

(RE)PRESENTED - Ben Whybrow by Kieran Knowles

The sixth of our chats with actors who left drama school without representation but have gone on to achieve incredible things is with the brilliant Ben Whybrow.

Name: Ben Whybrow

Trained: University of Bristol and LAMDA

What is your current/ most recent credit? 

Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More in Shanghai.

How did you find leaving Drama School?  

Daunting and exciting.  Drama School was a useful, and at times frustrating, developmental experience where you are told you have permission to fail - but it didn't particularly feel like that permission extended into the final year.  I left without an agent and it definitely felt like a personal failure at the time.  I had a single meeting with a high profile agent at the beginning of the year, but in the meeting I was totally overawed and then couldn’t get arrested for the rest of the year. Fortunately a lack of agent interest kickstarted some proactivity and set me up for a lifetime of engaging with my own career development.  I left knowing I had a job beginning in August, so that was quite exciting.

How did you get your first professional job?  

As well as letters to agents, I wrote to loads of casting directors during the final year and managed to land a general meeting with Jerry Knight Smith from the Manchester Royal Exchange.  I was angling at an audition for a small role in an upcoming production which didn’t materialise, but a month later, just prior to graduation, Jerry emailed me with a direct offer to ASM/understudy the Exchange’s national tour of The Glass Menagerie directed by Braham Murray and starring Brenda Blethyn.  It was touring the UK for a few months, was a full equity contract and I had nothing else on the horizon.  I loved the play and thought the opportunity to get paid observing a professional rehearsal room beat any temping.  I was understudying LAMDA alumnus Mark Arends, and meeting Mark ended up having an instrumental effect on my career.

What’s been your favourite job so far?  

Ben Whybrow operating puppets in  Something Very Far Away

Ben Whybrow operating puppets in Something Very Far Away

I’ve worked on some amazing projects and I couldn’t single one out. Certain jobs stand out though:  Something Very Far Away (NT Studio/Unicorn/Melbourne Festival) a live animation puppet show which Mark (Arends) asked me to be a part of as a devisor and performer was filled with such warmth, tenderness and inspirational people. It was totally magic and the collaboration with Mark has led to continued projects with his company Make Mend and DoThis Will End Badly (Edinburgh/Southwark Playhouse) a remarkable play by Rob Hayes, directed by Clive Judd was hands down my best experience as an actor; Clive is a brilliant, rigourous director and I don’t know if I’ll ever get offered a play and part as challenging.   Working with Punchdrunk on The Drowned Man and now Sleep No More has also been a hell of a ride; I will have lived in China for 14 months by the end of 2017 and it’s a ridiculous adventure.  In all these projects (and a handful of others) I’ve made lifelong friendships while making theatre with real artistry.  I think that’s what marks out the special ones.

What is the advice you would offer to young people leaving drama school over the next few weeks or the advice you’d give yourself looking back?  

I wish the Bryan Cranston clip about auditioning being the actors job had been available when I graduated.  It’s great.  With or without an agent you will have to audition, so make being good at it your focus.

Also, don’t let people pigeonhole you.  A lot of chat at drama school and in the industry is about defining what your casting is.  It’s a very screen oriented mindset, but in theatre, develop as broad a range as possible.  Look for projects where you’ve not done the same thing before.  It will be very useful and more interesting in the long run.

Ben Whybrow in  This Will End Badly

Ben Whybrow in This Will End Badly

Some other basics:  Exercise, read, write letters to directors, find "your people”, stay curious and do something useful in your community.  I know it’s hard but don’t worry too much about the agent if you don’t have one.  They will be there when you really need one; and you only want a good one anyway. It took three years before I teamed with my first agent, and then another three years before my current agent. One of the most exciting actors from my year didn’t have an agent for about 7 years and she’s absolutely flying now, consistently working on really thrilling projects and seriously respected by her peers - she found her people: young, interesting directors and writers who were also looking for a break.  Just like actors, the big player creatives of tomorrow all have to start somewhere and most of your work will come from people that know you and your work already.  I think its worth remembering that there is also some value in learning your craft outside of the spotlight; the great older actors all talk about learning their trade and making their mistakes in the Rep system.  Most of us don’t have the opportunity to experience that, but if you can find a way to make it work financially, the fringe is your friend.  I believe that talent will out, but you need to be dogged.  Finally, your mental and physical health are more important than acting.

What do you think of (RE)PRESENTED as a project (is it something you’d have gone for)? 

First and foremost it’s a great opportunity for unrepresented actors to get audition experience for a paid job and get feedback.  Why wouldn’t you take that?  Also, new writing is the lifeblood of theatre and the opportunity to have a character written for you is like gold dust.  Why wouldn’t you want that?  It’s a great opportunity to do a show in London and have your work seen.  Isn’t that pretty obviously a good thing?  I’d definitely have applied if it had been running a decade ago.

Ben Whybrow is now represented by Hatch Talent

To apply for (RE)PRESENTED please click here and fill in the online registration form. Applications are open until 1st November 2017.

 

(RE)PRESENTED - James Marlowe by Kieran Knowles

The Fifth (Five - We're flying!) of our interviews with actors who left drama school without representation but have gone on to achieve incredible things is with the brilliant @jamesjmarlowe

Name: James Marlowe

Trained: LAMDA

What is your current/ most recent credit?

I’m currently appearing in Touch at the Soho Theatre.

How did you find leaving Drama School?

I found it pretty difficult to be honest.  One minute you’re smashing it in school and the next you feel like you’ve failed as you haven’t got an agent. It feels like a real value judgement when it actually isn’t.  Thankfully, the further you get from it, the easier it is to put that difficult period in perspective.

What was your first professional job?

My first job out of school was The Captive at The Finborough.

What’s been your favourite job so far?

Tough one! So many of the jobs I’ve done have a real place in my heart.  Primetime at the Royal Court, Blue Man Group and The Play That Goes Wrong were all incredible experiences. My favourite character would be Liberty Valance in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

What is the advice you would offer to young people leaving drama school over the next few weeks or the advice you’d give yourself looking back?

Haha, wow there is so much! I’ll try to focus on a few points related to unrepped graduates.

  1. Get over your White Horse Syndrome as quickly as possible. This is the idea that someone is going to ride in on a white horse to save you, and say “Follow me to the career of your dreams!!!”. As an unrepresented actor it’s up to you to graft your way to the career you want.
  2. Stay strong. You’re likely to feel a combination of anger and huge devaluation if you have left without an agent. Both of those are natural and will subside, remember this is a long game. Put that energy into creating projects and staying tenacious. Be happy for your friends who are doing well.
  3. Be an indispensible badass – Without representation you rely heavily on your reputation. Be early, be prepared and be awesome. Make sure anyone who you work with, would want you back for their next project.
  4. It is possible to work without an agent! It’s hard work but it is possible. You have to make realistic targets and stay involved with theatre including a lot of Fringe work. You will be writing letters to get auditions (you’ll have to write a lot of them), and it’s much easier to do that when you genuinely love the work they do AND HAVE BEEN TO SEE IT.  
  5. Approach agents in the right way – The last thing you want to become is that harping voice at an agents ear all the time. Don’t be scared to write, just be smart. From an agent’s side, they want some momentum so they can get you through the doors of casting rooms. So write when you have a show in an accessible location, a really solid show reel or something they can use. Also read up on that agent – on their websites there is often info about their preferred method of contact, is it email or hardcopy? Are there any articles online about them and their advice to people? What is their name, specifically why them? Etc. Then whatever you do, don’t put the letter in the wrong envelope!

What do you think of (RE)PRESENTED as a project (is it something you’d have gone for)?

This is a subject I feel very passionately about. It is very easy for really solid, talented graduates to slip through the net and end up struggling for work so I think it sounds like a really interesting and important project. I would have jumped at it as a recent graduate.

 

James is now represented by Sally Hope Associates.

You can catch James at the Soho Theatre in Touch until 26th August 2017. For more information or to book tickets click here

To apply for (RE)PRESENTED please click here and fill in the online registration form. Applications are open until 1st November 2017.

 

(RE)PRESENTED - Jack Baldwin by Kieran Knowles

Jack Baldwin Represented

The third of our interviews with actors who left drama school without representation but have gone on to achieve incredible things is with the brilliant @JonnyJonJack

Name: Jack Baldwin

Trained: LAMDA

What is your current/ most recent credit?

I’m currently appearing in The Play that Goes Wrong in London

How did you find leaving Drama School?

I found the whole of the third year a bit strange - you're a big fish in a small pool but you're very aware that you're going into an ocean. I thought that as long as I could get some work somewhere it might all be ok.

How did you get your first professional job?

Spotlight audition for a show at the Finborough.

What’s been your favourite job so far?

The current job is fairly fantastic. I've always loved whatever I've done when I've done it. Even stuff I knew, deep down, was terrible.

What is the advice you would offer to young people leaving drama school over the next few weeks or the advice you’d give yourself looking back?

Jack Baldwin The Play That Goes Wrong Represented

Don't take too much advice to heart as every career is different; don't try to emulate anyone else's career. Which is not to say don't listen to advice. Try to have fun when you do work. Be open, don't be a diva, work hard enough that it looks easy & don't be one of the fucks.

What do you think of (RE)PRESENTED as a project (is it something you’d have gone for)?

I think it sounds excellent, It's the sort of thing my year were crying out for, only we didn't realise it. This job can grind you down and you don't realise how lonely you can feel. There's nothing wrong with that but remember that everyone, regardless of what stage their career is at, feels pretty much the same. So, meet up for a drink every now and then to keep sane.

There's no such thing as rejection. In an audition, everyone on the panel wants you to be the answer. If you don't get the job, it's because of so many reasons out of your control that there's no reason for you to worry about it. Keep doing what you do.

 

Jack is now represented by International Artist Management.

You can catch Jack in Mischief Theatre's The Play That Goes Wrong on London's West End. For more information click here

To apply for (RE)PRESENTED please click here and fill in the online registration form. Applications are open until 1st November 2017.