First published on 3 Aug 2012. Updated on 8 Aug 2012.
Jamie, The Spear Carrier was slated for Ensemble Theatre’s 2011 season but cancelled. What happened to your leg?
A week before rehearsals were due to start I snapped two ligaments in my knee jogging in the park. The ground was a bit uneven, I stepped the wrong way, my knee bent in a most unnatural way and the ligaments snapped like dry twigs. We toyed with the idea of doing the play in a leg brace but it felt a bit Richard the Third, so the whole show was cancelled until this year.
After a knee reconstruction and months of rehab, my knee feels great. I feel like I could run a marathon on it. Not sure how the rest of my body would hold up though.
Tell us about your character Nathan in The Spear Carrier.
Nathan is a bit of a loser. He’s an actor who’s only ever played small parts – the eternal spear carrier. He’s a nice guy who just never had the chips fall his way, and now he’s got to the point where he’s prepared to do something a little desperate to get noticed.
Would Nathan really be able to pull off the role of Hamlet?
He definitely has an over-inflated view of his acting prowess. And perhaps a slightly misguided view of how he’s perceived in his profession – and his everyday life. But let’s face it, this is true of most actors. It’s not the most pragmatic job choice.
Could Nathan ever really play Hamlet? Apart from being too old, I think the actors dream of playing it appeals to him... but actually pulling it off is just out of poor Nathan’s reach.
Uncle Monty from Withnail and I put it best when he said “It’s the most devastating moment in a young mans life, when he quite reasonably says to himself, ‘I shall never play the Dane.’ It is at that moment that all ambition ceases to exist.”
That experience is one many disgruntled and aspiring performers will be able to relate to. How much do you yourself relate to it? Ever been lumped with playing an embarrassingly small role yourself?
You’ve heard the expression ‘There are no small roles, only small actors’. Well that’s crap. I’ve played plenty of small parts and guest roles, and it’s pretty unsatisfying. It’s like being at a party where you don’t know anyone and everyone else is having a better time than you. It’s much more fun playing bigger parts where you can really push and test yourself.
I did once play Donalbane & Various Attendants in the Scottish Play and spent most of the play trying to make my fellow cast members laugh. Boredom sets in after a few weeks of a run, and as a spear carrier you get desperate for ways to liven up your night.
So you have felt the urge to upstage your fellow actors and steal the show?
Never! Despite my previous answer, a show only works when the entire cast are working for the same goal, supporting and pushing each other to perform at their best each night. There’s no room for anyone to try and steal the limelight. That’s why I enjoy doing one man shows...when you start hamming it up, you’re not upstaging anyone but yourself!