Gavin Ross of the King's Head Theatre production of Trainspotting talks to The Pickwyck about his beginnings, his character in this production and why you should run to go see it!
Tell us about yourself, where did you grow up? How did you start acting?
- "I grew up in a mining community on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Even though it's not that far out it's a whole different atmosphere. The scars from Thatcher's regime are still visible; teaches you a few things about community and camaraderie that I don't think you get anywhere else. My love for performing stems from a young age, always wanting to make people laugh. I applied for the Acting courses at Telford College after "leaving" high school and fell even deeper. I was hooked."
Tell us about your acting education at Edinburgh's Telford College, what was that experience like? Was there any invaluable advice you received from an instructor there that you have carried with you?
- "I genuinely believe if you study there for three years, you are better prepared for the industry more than, say if you had attended one of the university's that offer the course. I mean, having a degree is nice, but it stands for little in the audition room. I learned so much, the most basic tools an actor needs and will never forget. Steven Wren (our voice tutor) taught me to look at dialogue, dissect it and bring it to life. Our head of department, Scott Johnston, taught me to find the joy in performing and if you enjoy your time on stage it will show in your performance. A very nice environment to learn."
What is your dream role?
- "You'll laugh, but it's Spider-Man. He's the most interesting of all superheroes as he's motivated by guilt. That, and it would be pretty cool climbing up skyscrapers! Seriously though, I'd love to work with Sir Anthony Hopkins. I lap up every word he says."
What is your favorite TV show, movie and book?
- "The Sopranos always stands out for me. It was so engaging, finding the absurd balance of life in the Mob and family values. My favourite film is Tombstone. I have fond memories of watching this over and over with my family. It's obscure, but I love it! Irvine Welsh's Filth is the greatest thing I've ever read. Hands down."
What is your guilty pleasure?
- "I have a penchant for cheesy music. Just gotta have a dance around to Bon Jovi every so often!"
What is your favorite play/playwright and why?
- "I'm a huge fan of Steven Berkoff. The language used in East fascinated me and boosted my interest in Theatre. However I'm going to go with the overly Scottish answer and say Black Watch is my favourite play. It's funny, it's powerful and every time I see it, it gets better. Can't complain!"
What are you most passionate about in your own life?
- "I'm a life long supporter of Hibernian Football Club, regularly attending home games. We've had some tough seasons lately but we're picking ourselves up with new talent and a great head coach. The Hibs go marching on!"
What attracted you to Trainspotting as a production?
- "Every single thing. But most of all it was the opportunity to perform it in the immersive style. Getting right in people's faces with the the language and uncomfortable subject matter has been tremendous."
What was the rehearsal process like for this production?
- "Interesting, as we've performed it one-hundred-and-one times we have to find new avenues that we might have missed. We've essentially been smoothing over the cracks."
Tell us about your character in Trainspotting?
- "Renton is an interesting character. You feel sorry for him even though everything that happens to him is a direct result of his drug use. Finding that balance has been the challenge for me as an actor, having half the room hate him, the other half love him and at the end? Don't want to give too much away!"
What is it like working with this ensemble of actors and this theatre? Have you worked with anyone prior?
- "The most rewarding thing about this production for me personally is the fact that I'm performing with my pals. Doesn't happen often in this industry. You meet many people and have working relationships but very few friends. Every single person in this show I have the privilege of calling them friends. I've known most of them for years. Chris Dennis, who plays Begbie was in college with me, three years straight. It'll be strange to eventually work on a play without him!"
Have you ever seen a production of Trainspotting prior to joining the company? Did you read the book in preparation for the role or prior?
- "I had never seen the stage production but I've always been a fan of the book. I first read it when I was fifteen years old and I'd never read anything like it. I fell in love with Welsh's work from that point. In preparation not only did I re-read the book but also the prequel, Skagboys. It helped me develop a better understanding of Renton's life and what drives him. I'm a bank of trivia when it comes to Welsh's characters, something that's pretty useful to my fellow cast-mates!"
Why should people come see this production?
- "They'll never see anything like it, I can guarantee that. A true immersive theatre experience that includes the audience from the get-go. Plus there's, sex, drugs, casual violence and a rave, all that good stuff!"
The elements of this story work very well with this style of theatre. What would you like audiences to leave with after watching this performance? What is your favorite part of the performance?
- "If your audience leaves the building feeling something then your job is done. The tricky thing with this show is the range of emotions certain people will feel is huge. The events that happen in the play are relatable (maybe not in a literal sense or directly) so it's difficult to predict. In the fringe we had tears, anger, joy and over twenty-seven people fainted. For the most part people enjoyed it, so I'm happy with that! Personally I love every second of this show. The cast are great at what they do and we owe it all to each other. I could perform this show for the rest of my life."