The cast of this year’s Marlowe Theatre pantomime Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, are busy in rehearsal, getting ready for opening night (Friday 27th November).
We managed to find some time to speak to Craig Garner – who’s playing the role of Cheeky – and he gave us some pointers on how he’s built a successful career as a short actor – some serious, and some, not so serious. Over to you Craig…
- Learn to handle rejection. On the law of averages you are going to be rejected more times than you are accepted for a part. Remember that it’s not all about talent. Although I admit that I’m still devastated after being rejected for the role of Bond!
- Respect. There’s a definite hierarchy in films and theatre which is clearly identifiable by the size of someone’s dressing room or Winnebago. Most of the actors that I have worked with have been amazingly respectful, Sir Ben Kingsley and Chris Hemsworth are probably two of the most respectful, generous and supportive people that I have worked with. It’s important though, to recognise that everyone has a part to play and deserves equal respect. Personally I can’t stand divas. I like to keep my rider simple. White roses, white towels, a constant supply of Veuve Clicquot, no eye contact from the crew, the usual stuff.
- Study your industry. If you want to be a film actor watch as many films as possible; if you want to be a performer, go to the theatre as much as possible. There is no better way of studying technique. I particularly find the soaps a good source of material and like nothing more than “furthering my art” by studying Ken Barlow’s timing whilst my partner cooks me tea, does the ironing, makes the bed…
- Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. There will always be natural actors (doesn’t it make you sick!) but generally the better rehearsed you are, the more confident you are and the better you perform on stage. It’s even more important to rehearse for smaller parts and to ensure that you get the most from the few lines that you have been given. You should have seen my performance as Tommy the Cat at Sheffield’s Dick Whittington last year. I had the audience eating out my paw!
- For films, less is more. For stage, more is less. If only I had known that at my Bond audition when I turned up in my sequinned suit with my favourite audition piece of Goldfinger!
- Seek out specialist agencies – because of my height I use ‘Oh So Small Productions’ who specialise in short actors.
- Pitch for roles that may on the face of it seem totally unsuitable – I’ve played the giant in Jack And The Beanstalk and an ugly sister in Cinderella. Directors are always looking for something different so don’t be afraid of putting yourself forward for a part that you would like to play.
- Be confident – at 4’1” tall and only six stone it would be very easy to be ‘overlooked. Use your voice and even your elbows if necessary!
- Don’t expect to be given a part because of a disability – we aren’t owed anything and I certainly wouldn’t want to be given a part because a director felt sorry for me. What matters is ensuring that you are properly prepared for an audition or properly rehearsed for a part.
- Extend your skills – having more skills increases your chances of landing a part. I love musical theatre and have regular singing lessons and tap classes. I also brushed up on my horse riding skills for Snow White And The Huntsman.
You can see Craig and the rest of our cast in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs at our theatre between Friday 27th November and Sunday 10th January 2016. Tickets are selling very quickly, to get yours visit marlowetheatre.com (bkg fees apply) or phone 01227 787787 (bkg fees apply).