Tim Cook

tim

When did you first realise you wanted to act?
I was in my early 20’s when I got into the National Youth Theatre. It was something I’d wanted to do for a very long time (being a avid film fan), but I probably lacked the confidence to try it. It’s a strange one, because even though I’d never done any acting previously, I had this belief that I could do it and that I could potentially be good at it. Being part of the NYT gave me a boost and a sense of identity. I just continued from there and tried to learn as much as I could really.
What excites you about theatre?
New writing and new ideas. New writing is my lifeblood. I love writing that reflects how we live now and writing that poses difficult questions to its audience. New ideas are important, especially with classical texts. I don’t believe that every production of Shakespeare in London is fully merited. So I’d say I’m a big fan of originality basically. If theatre doesn’t offer something new, then why should we see it?
You went to a RADA, what do you feel your training equipped you for in the ‘real world’? 
It gave me a methodology and it taught me to take the work I do seriously. That’s important I think. If you want to succeed in the industry then you need to take it seriously. Also as an actor it gave me something to fall back on. I remember before I trained getting frustrated if I couldn’t hit a certain mark as an actor. I feel like I have more control as a performer now. One thing it definitely didn’t prepare me for was the reality of living life as an actor. The world of drama school is a bit of a bubble.
As training becomes unfeasible to a lot of people with raising costs of fees and london living, what advice do you give actors looking for alternate routes?
I certainly don’t view traditional acting training as the be all and end all of everything. There are so many different routes into the industry these days. Try to find people who are doing good work and do whatever it takes to work with them and learn from them. Don’t audition for everything, but look for plays or short films that really give you the chance to showcase your talents. Also it helps to take classes and see lots of theatre. Meet as many people as possible.
What do you think is the most important quality for an actor in todays industry?
Perseverance 
You write also, a man of many trades, how did you come about writing?
I started out writing for film at university, but a lot of my ideas were focused on dialogue, rather than the visual side of things. I realised as a writer I tend to think more rhythmically than visually, which lends itself well to playwrighting. After uni I was living in New York for a time and I started writing something, which could’ve been anything really – it could’ve been a novel, or a film, or a short story – but it ended up becoming a play. And so I turned into a playwright almost overnight, and now it feels like the most natural fit for me. I love people watching and eavesdropping on conversations and that’s reflected in my writing.
Can you tell our readers about your new play ‘Tremors’? 
I’ve been working on Tremors for a long time. I actually wrote the first draft shortly after the student protests in London in 2010. It’s about a rising star of the Labour party, who becomes involved in a scandal in a hotel room. In an attempt to salvage his image he then returns to his seaside hometown to make amends, but he gets caught up in a community dispute. Ultimately, he has to decide whether to save his career or the community he grew up in. Even though so much has changed in politics since 2010, I feel it’s very relevant to what’s going on now. We want and need more from our politicians.
What are your plans for Tremors?
There are big plans for Tremors in 2017, but I can’t reveal anything yet. Watch this space!
You are heading the new literary team at Drayton Arms?What is the plan with the team?
It’s been really exciting so far, being able to form a Literary Department from scratch. I want us to offer something different to other theatres in London. We can’t compete with the larger theatres in terms of offering an unsolicited script service, but what we can offer is a more hands on experience to writers. They’ll have the opportunity to workshop material at the theatre, and we can provide them with a support network of actors, directors and a dramaturg to help them. We’ll also be running a regular scratch night on the theme of Existentialism.
What advice do you give budding writers?
Seek out every possible opportunity to get your writing in front of an audience. Be open to feedback. Keep honing your craft. Don’t give up.
How did your company Broken Silence Theatre come about?
I founded Broken Silence Theatre with a friend around 6 months after graduating from RADA in 2013. It took me a few months to figure out what I wanted to do in the industry. I decided the best way forward for me was to create my own company and only do work I really believed in. It’s been the best and most liberating thing I’ve ever done. In just over 3 years we’ve staged over 10 full productions and each one has grown in terms of quality and scale.
What is your ethos?
We care about new writing. We care about promoting unheard voices. We care about the here and now. It’s that simple.
What is different about Broken Silence Theatre to other companies?
With our work we want to create a sort of ‘Royal Court on a budget’. We have very high standards and we seek out the best scripts we can possibly get our hands on. A lot of the scripts we’ve produced have been developed at larger theatres such as the Royal Court or the Soho or the Tobacco Factory. We want to start from a really strong place and then carry those standards through to production.
You also co-produce Scene Gym at Old Vic New Voices, which is a great way for actors, writers and directors to collaborate. Can you tell our readers about that?
Scene Gym is a great new initiative founded by Julia Taylor. It brings together the best writing, directing and acting talent, and puts everyone together in one room. It’s a really wonderful and hugely collaborative experience. It differs from similar new writing events because every single person in attendance is involved in one of the pieces. I think that really helps the writers receive fair and constructive feedback, because everyone is literally in the same boat. Even though we only launched in August it’s been a great success and I’m looking forward to developing Scene Gym further next year. 
Thank you Tim

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