Interview: Jamie Steele

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When did you first get involved in acting?

I remember doing the small school plays that everyone had to do, including my breakout roll as ‘Peter Dancer no.3’ in the nativity play which I still don’t understand. My first proper production was playing Oliver Twist when I was 11 which ignited my love for Musicals that I still hold dear today – old photos I recently found revealed the shy, red-faced and extremely nervous little boy I once was. It is still, however, a memory very close to my heart that introduced me to the wonder and unique experience that can only be found on stage.

What’s been your favourite role to date?

Every role I have taken up has moulded me in some way or another and provided for some truly wonderful memories. But my all-time favourite has to be playing Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps that was on in the first term of this year. I had never really done comedy before so it was all new territory for me but I must say I have never had such a great time rehearsing and performing in a play. The enjoyment you feel and hear from the audience is unlike anything else I’ve encountered and the nature of the play means each night is different from the last so you can just keep performing it and you’ll never get bored. What more could an actor ask for?

What’s been your best memory at Uni?

Such a difficult question and so many to choose from! Aside from every time I’ve had takeaway Dominoes Pizza or cheesy curly fries after a night out, one of my favourite days at Uni so far was at the Campus Fest last term. All of my favourite people in the world had gathered into one place including theatre friends, housemates and my parents. I had two performances, one after the other, meaning I had to run from one stage to the other while getting out of costume and performed a Disney mashup with the A Cappella Society which was the culmination of so much hard work I’d put in and in front of a surprisingly large crowd. Then buying doughnuts for everyone after. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Who’s your biggest hero?

There are many I could mention but Christopher Nolan has to be one of them. His ability to create original and incredibly creative screenplays with his brother as well as direct them is unbelievable. Furthermore bringing together the soundtracks and film into a beautiful marriage of the senses takes rare skill, dedication and organisation that I will always aspire to.

Trapped on a desert island, 1 film, 1 album and 1 book?

If you know me choosing a single film is almost impossible but I’m going to be serious and say Watermark. It’s a documentary looking at how water shapes humanity. Instead of a narrative film that I would most probably inevitably become bored of, this film makes you think. It also has some of the most beautiful shots I’ve seen. An album (again impossible) would have to be A Different Ship by Here We Go Magic. I have listened to that album for quite a few years now and still love it to pieces. I must admit I’m not an avid reader but if I took one book, that wasn’t a desert island survival guide, I think Life of Pi would be a pleasantly ironic read.

Do you and Tony have much in common?

I wouldn’t say I’m as idealistic as Tony, hopefully a bit more realistic about meeting a girl after one day and whether we should marry or not. However, he fights for what he believes in and I really admire him for that. Also I don’t tend to break out into song every time I meet a girl, might come off as a bit weird.

Favourite moment in WSS?

Finally nailing the first song I have, ‘Something’s Coming’. I’d almost had nightmares of reaching the high notes and then when the Musical Director and I had a meeting literally a few days before the first performance it just all came together and I finally felt I was ready and could aim to meet the expectations of audience and director alike. Also, of course all the backstage shenanigans during each show.

LUTG Edinburgh Show?

So every year LUTG take a play up to the Edinburgh Fringe, one of the largest arts festivals in the world. This year we are doing an original adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s Tales of Peter Rabbit by one of the students and also creating and improvising parts of it as well. It is mainly aimed at children and should be a lot of fun to perform with an unpredictable crowd of kids. I am playing both Benjamin Bunny (Peter’s cousin) and Samuel Whiskers (a rather round and smelly rat), each pretty different roles. Surprisingly for a children’s book though there is a lot of room for humour for both kids and adults which makes it accessible for all.

How are you feeling about your first time at Fringe?

Cannot wait! I absolutely love the city and have always wanted to be a part of the festival. It will be an unforgettable experience and because the show is in the afternoon I’ll be able to go see all the prime-time evening performances elsewhere and take in the incredibly rich diversity of cultures and ideas that takes over Edinburgh each year.

How do you prepare to go on stage?

It can depend on the show. There are always focus exercises we do as a group to get in the zone but there is the quiet period just before a show starts where the tension and anticipation is incredibly high. To stop myself from crippling under the pressure I just run over my entrance over and over to get into the character and make sure it all starts with a bang which I can then use as the foundation for the level of energy of the rest of the show.

Tell me about The Importance of Being Earnest?

A classic comedic play by Oscar Wilde where two men pretend to have two separate identities at the same time. Jack invents a brother, Earnest, whom he uses as an excuse to leave his dull life behind to visit Gwendolyn. Algernon decides to take the name Earnest when visiting Jack’s young and beautiful ward, Cecily. Things start to go wrong when they end up together in the country and their deceptions are discovered. Another comedy for me and a great contrast from West Side Story which was a vast play with simple dialogue. This, meanwhile, has an incredibly dense script that you can really dig into as an actor as well as the subtext of each scene.

What are your plans for after Uni?

This is a scary question because, like many others, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do after University. My course of Economics & Geography allows me a huge scope for possible employment. However, over the course of this year acting has gradually become the clear passion I have and would want to use to its full potential, so a career in theatre, film or TV is a wildcard I may take. But also, I feel that since I did not have a gap year the period after Uni is the perfect time to travel and see the world before the real responsibilities of being an adult kicks in.

Marvel or DC?

Marvel. I mean Batman is awesome in every way but it’s got to be Marvel overall.

Never eat Ben & Jerry’s again, or never eat Nutella again?

I have an extremely deep-rooted love for both foods so I hope this catastrophic situation never presents itself. But in the event that such an evil arises I would have to choose Nutella because it is a necessity. While Ben & Jerry’s is a thing made in heaven, it can only be enjoyed in large quantities (ie. eating the entire tub) every now and again.

Who’s your favourite actor or actress?

Grace Kelly is my favourite actress just because she is so incredibly elegant and has such a presence on screen. While my favourite actor would be a showdown between Bryan Cranston and Kevin Spacey, both have had such a wide range of roles and are extremely devoted to their profession.

If you could play any character, who would it be?

I have always wanted to play the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera. He has such powerful songs and is both brooding but tender and vulnerable at the same time.

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