So, as few of you know already Caroline and myself used to work at a giant cinema chain in the heart of the UK. It was at this cinema that we first met and became close friends. It was also here that we met the aspiring artists, models and actors that wanted anything to work near film.. whilst also completing their studies. Drew Sheridan Wheeler was one of these aspiring actors. But Drew isn’t just one of these thousands of wanna be stars. He has something so special that makes him so watchable, so heartfelt, so sincere. I really do think that this young man will go far in life… Here Drew answers a few questions for his old friends from the cinema.
Hi Drew! Firstly, I want to thank you for taking time out by being interviewed for The Story of Us. We want to promote young talent in people such as yourself and take note to how much hard work you put into your dreams.
So, how old were you when you realised you wanted to act for a living?
First year of sixth form, I had started Art and truly thought that was where I wanted to head for, portrait freelance work and game concept art. However, my mum sent in an application to the great Royal & Derngate Theatre, ‘Classial Actor’s Company’. Sure, I was angry with her for putting me in but I went for the audition, did it and got a place. When I began acting my life opened up a lot, allowing me to know where I wanted to go, what I wanted to be. And if it was not for my mother, who knows where I would be?
What was your first acting experience?
The first time I stepped in front of an audience was as Demetrius from Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus’, here my entire life was transformed. All my life I’ve loved the variety of thoughts that effect me emotionally, from observing performances of all types. These varied feelings, immeasurably multiplied, is how I feel when performing in any performing forms. There is so much to be created, life, love, stories, conflicts all from the imagination, being propelled and absorbed.
Can you tell about a time that things didn’t turn out how you expected them to on stage?
The first ‘thing’ that comes to my mind when someone mentions ‘something not turning out as expected’ would be mistakes on stage. There have been many of these, indivdual or cast-sized mistakes. The most obvious to the audience would have to be in 2010, when I performed in the National Connections Festival, in a piece called ‘Bassett’ by James Graham. It was set in a class room, a set built from the ground up, thus replacing the stage. It is about a group of school kids who are locked in a school room, discussing from the newest Call of Duty game to their feelings on the repatriation. It deals with racism, sexuality, bullying and how parents influence their children. Real nice piece.
Anyway, so we have a projector and laptop in the room which are controlled by the ‘technial manager’ from the outside on his phone. It was our first performance and the projector is set to come on a certain cue, but sadly, his phone crashed and the project dazzeled the white board with colors, numbers and all abnormal technical issues. The whole cast, all of us improvised for 10-12minutes, before the director had to pause the show. We did entertain the audience with a sexual innuendo, school version of hang man though, successful comedy either way.
You spent a long while teaching younger kids how to act and to build upon their skills (whilst rehearsing and slogging your heart out yourself).. do you miss it?
I will admit that I struggle to teach at first as the kids were so young and I had just began tutoring, directoring, script writing and attempting to show some control. I do miss it and I will eventually go back to it once I have got all my training done, I really would like to focus on performing for now and then move on to specializing in other areas like directing, lighting. My thoughts on tutoring are that when I am prepared to say ‘right, now my acting years are over and I want to direct, produce, write and most important of all, teach in a drama school and pass my experiences, knowledge and understanding on to someone who was just like me at one stage.
The dream would be to set up a drama school with better funding loans for anyone who struggles to pay the costs, I think everyone will agree that it is unbelievable what you have to pay and even though it is worth every penny, some of the greatest talent may never be found because of this and I would hate for that to happen to me, well, anyone.
What was the most rewarding thing about teaching?
See those children who you know will go on to be commited, inspriational and develop great amounts, because they are not just there for social games or chats, they were their to have fun but do it with a professional attitude that scared me slightly. Not to say that you can not just go to acting classes for confidence, socializing but at an age of nine to thirteen, shining with passion of acting and determination ‘only slightly’ a give away of their intentions. I do intend to go back to Royal & Derngate for a few workshops hopefully soon, give a few classes sampling drama school and I hope to spread some inspiration and light for those unsure about university or drama school, or to just chat generally about anything, thats appropraite.
If someone came up to you tomorrow and made it so films, tv and the stage didnt exist.. What could you see yourself doing instead?
Creating films, T.V and Theatre.
You are currently studying at Richmond Drama School. Do you find time to audition?
Most drama schools ensure that you are not going to castings, only focusing on your training but at RDS we are encouraged to get out there, audition, get experience and work where, if we end of with a job that intefers with our training at RDS, they help us to work around it. One of the students, Rich, is currently filming in the new ‘Snow White’ movie at Pinewood Studios. A lot of us are on agencies or casting sites, so we all do try. I have been able to do films, and have been casted for a production in December, there are so many jobs out there and you learn so much from just going to them, its where you are going to end so why should we be stopped from going there now? or touching on it atleast? Its more understandable for the three-year courses in other drama schools, so until then, I always will be auditioning, getting myself out there.
How vital is the auditioning process to you at the moment?
It is a large percentage of me developing as an actor and person, as it gives me the know-how of castings along with giving me the opportunity to do what I love, profressionally and get paid for it! It is madness, being paid for what you love to do. I am concentrating on my training, as that is why I came to London, however if I can fit in castings, which I can, I will go to them.
Do you sometimes wish there were more hours in the day?
I had this conversation with my best friend sometime ago, we thought to ourselves ‘Imagine if you did not need to sleep, you could just plug yourself in like a battery and be re-charged in minutes, you’d get so much more done’. I am still waiting for someone to create this, until then, I will just have to dream of being able to plug myself in to a socket and be a battery.
Alive or dead, who would be your dream dinner party guests and why?
Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare, Orsen Welles, there are too many but none can compare an intimate night at a dinner party with one of the most beautifully complicated women. Marilyn Monroe. Her stories, talents, beauty, that irresistable charm she had, it would be wonder as to how she actually managed to tempt ever man she wished to.
Who inspires you?
This is a question I hate, as there are too many people who influence me. Right now, Ralph Fiennes is in my head. An actor who can have that presence that controls the audience, on stage or T.V to film, is naturally made to inspire, that person keeps acting progressing and gives back what it gave to him. I adore him, I have seen him both on stage and screen and he is a different man in every role, down to the smallest details. I find it hard to go on without seeming too much of a ‘groupie’, but he shows commitment to get kids in to Shakespeare, to keep it going, that’s how I am and will always be.
Where would you like to be in 10 years time?
The almighty question, ideally I would love to be performing professionally, full-time. We all know that this is a slim chance, either way if I am not, I will be performing, tutoring, directing, somewhere in the performing arts industry, working professionally. Fingers crossed that it is not the latter, but the first answer.
Watch this space. Drew Sheridan Wheeler is a name you will want to remember…