News from the front: actors inspire students about professional acting

Actors from the Actor’s Equity Association, Graeme Malcolm and Raphael Nash Thompson, both of whom are performing in Connecticut Reparatory Theater's upcoming production of “King Lear,” spoke to students Thursday afternoon in the Nafe Katter Theatre at the University of Connecticut.

Malcolm, who is cast as the title of role of Shakespeare’s tragedy, alongside Thompson, cast as the Earl of Gloucester, fielded questions from students in the department of dramatic arts about the theatre industry, working in film and how to be a professional actor.

 Raphael Nash Thompson will play the Earl of Gloucester in KING LEAR onstage at Connecticut Repertory Theatre.  Tickets and information at crt.uconn.edu. (Courtesy/Connecticut Repertory Theatre)

 Raphael Nash Thompson will play the Earl of Gloucester in KING LEAR onstage at Connecticut Repertory Theatre.  Tickets and information at crt.uconn.edu. (Courtesy/Connecticut Repertory Theatre)

When asked about the industries of theatre and film in regards to the differences between when they entered these industries and the shape of it today, Nash said “The biggest change to my thinking is the influence of the internet. Back when I began, you always had to physically show up or you missed opportunities. With things being online, they don’t need to see you–produce it yourself, get a camera etc, –I’ve gotten a lot more work that way.”

Nash followed by explaining that the most optimum approach is still being seen in-person. “It’s the best and helps you get a feel for who you are working with and establish your presence,” said Nash.

Darren Brown, a fifth semester graduate acting student asked the two actors if they had a set idea for their career paths at any point.  “No,” said Graeme, “there was no choice, when the one job came up that was the work.”

Graeme Malcolm will star in the title role in KING LEAR onstage at Connecticut Repertory Theatre.  Tickets and information at crt.uconn.edu. (Courtesy/Connecticut Repertory Theatre)

Graeme Malcolm will star in the title role in KING LEAR onstage at Connecticut Repertory Theatre.  Tickets and information at crt.uconn.edu. (Courtesy/Connecticut Repertory Theatre)

Following Graeme’s response to Brown’s question, Thompson said “Don’t say no to anything–a reading, a student film, etc. – try to do whatever you can, you never know where something can lead. Plus, you get experience.”

Thompson reflected on his training as an actor when Carly Polistina, a third semester sophomore acting student asked the two, at what moment did they find themselves an actor and not just trying to be one?

“Going to classes in New York and learning Shakespeare. It was fun, but I became comfortable. In those classes the teachers would ask why I wasn’t working, that’s when,” said Thompson,

For Graeme it was a different experience. He said “The UK requires more specificity than here [the US]. After being a teacher for a few years, I got my equity card-that was when I was a professional, that’s the line in the UK when I was coming up.”

Generally speaking people may tend to think that an actor is juggling multiple shows at once, but according to these two professionals, that is simply not true.  In saying this they debunked the notion for those in attendance, dismissing the idea also that one can just walk in, as if on the fly.

“The talk they gave was fascinating. As a student, this is really my first experience in real theatre. I dabbled in high school, but this is really my first time,” said Andrew Smith, a third semester acting sophomore.

“To get the point of view from the people who have lived it was invaluable and they are still working at it.”



Matthew Gilbert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.gilbert@uconn.edu. He tweets @wickedlouddude.