In front of the a proscenium arch, there is the forestage, with a door on either side which can be used as an entrance. Come through one of these doors, and you might as well be in the auditorium. In fact, two of the boxes are pretty much on the stage. What I'm saying is that you can't ignore the presence of the audience here, and it's this that guides much of your own performance.
How does working here compare with other theatre spaces in which you've worked?
It's a real “playing” space. It make you want to almost show off to the audience. It reminds you that, no matter how serious the piece, you are here to perform and entertain. However, because of the structure of the building and the proximity of the audience, you must be true and exact and specific, and that makes it a very exciting place to work.
What are the (other) highlights of your career?
Singing the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel's Messiah on the Olivier stage at the National as the finale to Coram Boy. A glorious ending to a great show. And burning down Grange Hill school.
How did you become an actor, and where did you train?
I'd enjoyed being in a couple of school productions and joined the county youth theatre. That summer, we went to a youth-theatre festival in Berlin and had such a crazy time I didn't want to stop. I'd quit school early, but returned to finish my A-levels and changed my selection to include theatre studies, giving myself the chance to discover if it really was something I'd like to pursue. I applied to the two drama schools of which I'd heard and was accepted by RADA the day before my A-level exams, which did nothing for my results.
Young actors nowadays seem to have their training geared towards television rather than stage work. Good thing? Bad thing?
Is that true? I beg to differ.
What advice would you give to young actors starting their careers?
Well, looking for and being out of work are major factors in any but the most fortunate of actors' lives, so patience, mixed with a healthy dose of self-belief, is essential. But there are many ways of using your skills within the industry, so I'd suggest keeping an open mind when considering in which direction to head. You never know where the result of an unusual decision may take you.
[Nicholas Tizzard} is appearing in the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds productions of Much Ado About Nothing and Dangerous Corner.