British actor Ed Skrein recently starred as the central antagonist in the hit movie Deadpool, and has previously appeared in Game of Thrones and Kill Your Friends. He is also one of the patrons for The Big House charity, which helps troubled teenagers across London through the medium of theatre.
Skrein recently went into rehearsals for Phoenix Rising, The Big House's next show, which follows a young man leaving care and his struggles in poverty. Later he chatted about his work with the charity and what organisations like The Big House mean for British theatre.
Why are companies like The Big House so vital?
I personally went to a lot of community classes and groups similar to The Big House when I was a teenager and they were places I learned self-confidence, expression and formed friendships that have lasted 15 years later. The short and long-term impact of a Big House project on young people's lives and minds cannot be understated.
What did you want to get out of the rehearsal process with the performers?
I hope my advice and experience is beneficial to them. I have always enjoyed the process of problem-solving and 'finding' the scenes and characters' truths so the rehearsal process is always fascinating for me. I get so much out of the experience myself, I always leave feeling inspired and I hope the cast feel the same way.
Has working with new performers or leading rehearsals made you reassess your own methods on stage and screen?
It is very illuminating to watch other people rehearse and perform, I've learnt a great deal about my own approaches through theirs. I see a lot of myself in them so the whole process feels very symbiotic.
Why do you think grassroots theatre companies are so important?
I feel the arts should be inclusive to all, so of course, it is vital that companies such as The Big House are supported. All mediums, not just theatre, should represent all of society, therefore both participants and audiences should reflect our culturally and socially diverse society. The Big House gives a voice and platform to people who may be seen as traditionally outside of the theatre world, but this only serves to enhance the theatre experience for audience and performer alike.
How does it feel being a patron for the company?
I am incredibly proud to be a part of The Big House's past, present and future, both as a patron and mentor. We have a great relationship and share many creative and moral core values. I hope I can continue to contribute to The Big House's development in years to come.
Phoenix Rising runs underneath Smithfield Meat Market from 13 November to 2 December, with previews from 8 November.
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