Hugh Bonneville calls on budding actors to ‘show us what you’ve got’

Hugh Bonneville, centre, with members of the NYT West End REP company (Picture by Andrew James)
Hugh Bonneville, centre, with members of the NYT West End REP company (Picture by Andrew James)

The National Youth Theatre are coming to Derry for the first time and has called for anyone with talent and passion to get involved.

The NYT has launched an Auditions Access Fund which will benefit young aspiring actors across the UK in response to the decline of drama provision.

Hugh Bonneville (Picture by Stuart McClymont)

Hugh Bonneville (Picture by Stuart McClymont)

Derry has been chosen as one of 10 areas for the Auditions Access Fund after the NYT investigated areas most in need.

The fund is open to budding actors aged between 14 and 25.

The NYT will visit Derry between January and March next year to host a workshop on audition technique and on the following day holding auditions.

Successful auditionees will become members of the NYT and receive bursaries to travel to London to attend a prestigious NYT summer membership course, following in the footsteps of famous alumni including Hugh Bonneville, Daniel Craig, Helen Mirren, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Zawe Ashton and Matt Smith to name a few.

Hugh Bonneville, who is a patron of the NYT, told the ‘Journal’ this is a chance for budding actors from Derry to ‘shine’.

The actor, best known for his roles in Notting Hill, Downton Abbey and Paddington, said his experience with the NYT ‘was a really important part of the decision making process about what I was going to do next’.

“Even if I hadn’t gone into the profession all the skills that one learns there in putting on a play - collaboration, discipline, communication, expression - one uses in all walks of life.”

Hugh said that there was a real social mix when he attended the NYT and he met people from all across the UK.

“There is a perception access to the arts is out of reach for many. Provision of the arts is diminishing, certainly for anything that is funded through local authorities or government.

“It’s a dangerous spiral because if you have fewer people engaging in the arts then you are going to have fewer people introducing arts to the next generation.”

Hugh said this was a deciding factor in the NYT visiting areas that have had tough economic times so that it is not out of reach, either geographically or financially.

“We reached out and asked why we should come to your area. Colleges, youth groups and community groups have written back saying we are starved here and not getting the opportunities we used to have. We have some really talented kids and you should come and have a look at them.”

“We are aware that Derry has had some tough economic times, like many places across the UK, where people feel I cant do that.

“This is a message to the mums and dads of Derry and the brothers and sisters. You know someone who has got that talent and burning passion and feel they are shut out.

“This is a chance to show us what you have got.”

He said the NYT is not a ‘stars in your eyes’ experience, but is a ‘disciplined and fun way to put on a play’.

“It’s about bringing together people who have a passion and enjoy the experience of putting on play. It’s not about finding the next Daniel Craig, Helen Mirren or Ian McKellen. The NYT didn’t make them stars, but it allowed them to explore the first steps of their journey into the profession.”

Hugh said his time with the NYT was extremely important and he is passionate about his role as a patron.

“It was so important to me. I had huge opportunities when I was kid because my parents loved the arts. It was part of the diet of my childhood.

“I am very fortunate to have made a living out of this profession and I am just giving back.”

Hugh has recently finished shooting the movie of Downtown Abbey and is looking forward to it’s release next September.

“Downton Abbey wrapped a couple of weeks ago and it was a very happy reunion. It was weird getting the band back together three years later but it was like putting on a favourite jumper. Hopefully next September the audience will get out of their armchair and come to the cinema to see it.”

He is also writing and developing other projects tor television.

Hugh encouraged anyone who is interested in the NYT workshop and auditions to visit www.nyt.or.g/aaf for more details and for updates on date and venue.