Alex Austin, who’s set to star in Ellen McDougall’s production of Idomeneus at the Gate Theatre, speaks to Theatrefullstop ahead of press night!

Alex Austin

The show Idomeneus has its UK Premier at the Gate Theatre, opening on June 19th. It has been directed by Gate Associate Artist Ellen McDougall. I spoke to cast member Alex Austin about the show and his career… 

You are currently working on Idomeneus at the Gate’s Head Theatre, how are the rehearsals going?

Its good thank you, we’re in the fourth week of rehearsals, getting ready to get in to tech for next week. There’s been a lot of exploring and that but it’s going good.

How would you describe the overall rehearsal process?

It’s very ensemble focused. We spent the first two weeks working very closely with the director, Ellen (McDougall) and the design team. They’ve been in rehearsals for a lot of the time so we’ve been working very closely as a group creating the language of the play, which flips between narrating and characters. It’s exciting it’s the UK premiere and it’ll be wicked to be a part of that!

You recently have been filming “Interceptor” for the BBC, do prefer working in theatre or filming?

I dunno, whoever pays me I’ll be there (laughs). I got in to acting through theatre so there’s a big part of me that has a real fondness for theatre. I watch a lot of theatre and I really enjoy the medium of it. But it’s all experience really, I’m starting to do a bit more TV and Film stuff and there are a lot of similarities as there are parallels between the two. It’s just great to be working, I think what you should strive for is to find scripts, characters and stories you’re excited about and whether that comes in theatre or film or TV is irrelevant.

You didn’t have traditional Drama School training, how did you get in to professional acting?

I went to Sixth Form College in Islington; they had a strong connection with the Almedia Theatre. The Almedia has an education department that worked in schools and an external youth theatre which I was doing whilst at college, which got me into thinking professional acting was something that I wanted to do. We did a project called ‘Lab’ where we did a show called ‘Encourage the Others’ written by John Donnelly and got to work with professional director, Lu Kemp. I didn’t get into drama school when I was 18 and auditioned and was going to go to university to study English Lit. I was talking to the writer, director and the people who worked at the theatre and thought it (would) be a shame to pass up on the opportunity to give acting a go. They helped me draft emails to agents and casting directors to come watch the show and I got snapped up and have been working on and off since!

What advice would you give young aspiring actors trying to get in to the industry?

I think the main thing, this (is) going to sound corny but I heard Derek Jacobi say “You’ve got to need to do it rather than want to do it” and there’s some truth in that. But the main thing is wanting to be other people and that you’re interested in other people. There’s so many ways to do it but if you immerse yourself in it, be inquisitive, read lots, see a lot of theatre, get involved in Youth Theatres and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If people can see you’re willing to take risks, I think they’re more likely to take a risk on you.

Interview by Lucy Bishop.

Alex Austin will be starring in Idomeneus at the Gate Theatre from Thursday 19th June. For more information on the production, visit here…

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