Tuesday, 9 September 2014

INTERVIEW: Tony Clay, currently in Albion at the Bush Theatre

Tony graduated from Arts Educational School of Acting in 2013. For television, his work includes Foyle’s War; and for film, The Second Coming and An Ordinary Life. He'll be playing Jayson in Albion at the Bush Theatre from 12th September. 

Would you please tell us a little about the plot of ALBION?
The plot of the play follows the story of two brothers who run a pub in East London named The Albion & primarily focuses on the far right political & non-political movements throughout Britain & throughout the world and what happens when these particular parties are able to learn a language in which they are deemed to be accepting of diversity. With a few karaoke classics in there aswell. 
What would you say are the most important messages in the play?
For me, the most important message of the play is that no matter your views or beliefs, everyone has a right to be heard. From the most liberal person to the furthest of the far right, everyone has a voice & should be allowed the freedom of expression to voice that. It can be so easy to shut down and censor people but it can be a very dangerous thing when those people feel abandoned & feel they no longer have a voice to express how they feel.

This is only Chris Thompson's second play. What makes it so special?
What makes Chris’s play so special is that it focuses on topics that are happening now, not only in this country but throughout the world. It’s incredibly hard hitting at times and deals with subjects that could be uncomfortable for many and challenges the audience in so many different ways, but intertwines that with beautifully funny and touching moments that really bring the play to life. It’s an important piece & I’m privileged to be a part of it. 
 Where do you find most of the inspiration for your character, Jayson?
My inspiration for Jayson comes from a whole range of people that I’ve met throughout my life, particularly from growing up in South East London. We all go through a stage where we make decisions that could shape our lives and this is where Jayson finds himself in this play. Torn between a far right party that has become his family and someone that is desperate to take him away from that. Many friends of mine are still finding themselves and working out what it is they want from life and some also feel lost in a society that they feel isn’t listening to them. He’s based on a mixture of a whole load of things really!
The Bush Theatre is an iconic venue. How does it feel to be working there after having graduated so recently from Arts Ed?
 Working at The Bush is an absolute dream! I genuinely feel very lucky and grateful to be involved in this play at such a fantastic theatre so soon after Arts Ed. The place is run to perfection and is constantly breaking ground for new writing and I’m incredibly proud to be there working with an amazing cast & team. Hopefully they feel the same!
Throughout your time at Arts Ed, what was the single most valuable lesson you learned?
The most valuable lesson I learned at Arts Ed was to be confident in everything you do, believe in yourself & take risks. But most of all to just be a decent human being! The staff instilled a lot of that in to us and was a fantastic place to train. 
What advice would you give to anyone trying to get into performing arts as a career?
My advice would be to try and see as much theatre, film & TV as you can and to believe that you’ll get there. I’m only just starting out professionally myself really and I’m always learning from other actors, be it on the stage or screen. Try and read plays from a whole range of different playwrights, don’t be a pain to people! Most of all though, surround yourself with good people, be true to who you are and try to enjoy it really! It gets tough but when the good times happen they’re great!
Do you have a pre-show ritual you always stick to? 
Most of the time I just try and get in the space and take it in on my own, warm up vocally and physically but I don’t have a specific ritual I stick to. I try not to eat loads before a show as it’s definitely not about performing on a full stomach! 
You're currently working with Natalie Casey and Delroy Atkinson who both have exceptional credits in Theatre. Have either of them offered you any useful words of wisdom you'd be willing to share with us? 
Natalie & Delroy are both amazing people and brilliant actors and it’s been great for me to be working with a whole cast of people who’ve done so much in film, TV & Stage. I often speak with Delroy & Natalie about experiences they’ve had working all over & I’m just quite enjoying listening to them at the moment and hopefully I’ll be able to do something equal to what they’ve achieved in years to come. 
Is there a practical joker in the cast? Who is most likely to try and make you laugh during a scene? 
Natalie is fantastic & she does have me and all of us in stitches at times. She’s a pretty special dancer. Everyone has their moments though & in a play that deals with quite intense issues it’s golden when someone provides that little moment of magic to bring everyone’s spirits up after an emotional scene. 
What's your dream role?
I’m a big Pacino fan but that really is a dream to work with him but I am also a huge lover of British drama. To land some good parts in the constant brilliance that is British film and TV on something such as Luther, Tyrannosaur etc. I’d be buzzing. I also would have loved to have been in The Godfather. What a film. 
Do you have any upcoming projects for the future beyond ALBION?

As of yet I don’t! But hopefully something will come up after!

Tony is currently in ALBION at the Bush Theatre, it runs from the 12th September to the 25th October 

Interview questions by Harriet Langdown
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