With the Olivier Awards 2018 this evening, theatre editor Daniel Perks looks back at some of the Off West End Awards winners for 2018.

The weekend of the Olivier Awards 2018 is upon us – the best and brightest of the West End and its affiliate theatres will descend on the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate the last 12 months of theatrical talent and tenacity. But only five weeks ago, another award ceremony was held. It’s one that Miro Magazine are proud to have covered, one that fits much closer with our ethos of championing the emerging creative. These were the Off West End Awards 2018, or the Offies.

The Albany played home to this year’s ceremony, now in its seventh year. 91 nominees resulted in 26 awards across the spectrum – plays, musicals and young people’s theatre; directors, actors, playwrights and designers. Here at Miro, on the weekend that celebrates UK commercial theatre at its brightest, we wanted to shine the spotlight back on a selection of the winners from the fringe theatre scene.

Off West End Offies 2018

Next up is the winner of the Best Supporting Male In A Play AwardTom Rhys Harries for his performance in The Pitchfork Disney at Shoreditch Town Hall. I caught up with Tom to chat about the awards, the production team and working on both Off West End and West End stages:

The Pitchfork Disney Shoreditch Town Hall

Tom Rhys Harries

Congratulations, Tom Rhys Harries! How does it feel to be an Off West End winner?

“Wicked. We worked on The Pitchfork Disney this time last year – it’s quite surreal to work on a project that is so all-consuming for a period of time, before you say goodbye to that world. I feel like I’ve revisited something, I got to go back to that place.”

Tell me about your experience of working on The Pitchfork Disney.

“As a young actor, I was very aware of Philip Ridley‘s work; there’s something really engaging about that generation of writer and the In-Yer-Face movement. The text is really dense, but with really good writing I still turn back and wonder if there’s something new to discover in there.

We see the tree, but the roots go everywhere

Jamie Lloyd is one of the most freeing directors I’ve ever worked with – he facilitates an environment that allows all of his actors to explore and play, with as little fear as is possible. You have to personally push through a lot. You might look really daft – we are really polite as a British society and that can be really limiting. What Soutra did with the set was amazing too – that all has an effect on you as an actor when you’re playing in that kind of space. I completely invested in that project and part, Cosmo Disney, so it took me a bit of time to recover from it.”

The Pitchfork Disney Shoreditch Town Hall

Jamie Lloyd (image courtesy of Matt Humphrey)

You’ve performed on both the Off West End and West End stage – do you see a difference between the two industries?

Mojo and The Pitchfork Disney are difficult comparisons, because Ian Rickson (the director of Mojo) & Jamie, and Jez Butterworth [the writer of Mojo] & Philip are each very different. But both teams leading the projects had similar sensibilities; as an actor, I didn’t approach them differently at all.

“It all boils down to the foundation, which for any piece of work is the writing. If writing is really good, it’s hard to fuck it up; if not, the cracks start to show. TV, Film, Theatre – it’s all storytelling.”

If the story’s got legs, then it will work.

Why and how did you become interested in acting in the first place? 

“I did a lot of music, I used to write and session sing – I come from a musical background. We did a lot of musicals in high school – I always played baddies, I’d never get the lead roles.

“I like that it seems impossible, it’s such a hard industry to get into. Having been here for five or six years, what I initially thought I was getting into is not what it’s turned out to be thus far – for the most part, for positive reasons. I genuinely feel very lucky to be paid to be able to explore different worlds, cultures and countries. Our industry is full of really special, open and hard-working people.”

The Pitchfork Disney Shoreditch Town Hall

Who, or what, are your inspirations?

“Some of the best things I’ve ever seen have been really simple – Simon StephensSea Wall that Andrew Scott performed was beautiful. I love Andrew’s work, I remember seeing him in Cock while I was at drama school and tried to imitate what he was doing.

“But I have loads of people that I respect and would love to work with. The more time I spend in this industry, the more what I want to do changes.”

If you’re right for the text and, equally importantly, if the text is right for you, then something will happen.

Do you have any future/ upcoming projects that you’d like to highlight?

“I rapped a film at the end of last year called Slaughterhouse RulezSimon Pegg and Nick Frost‘s new film with Margot Robbie, Michael Sheen, Finn Cole and Asa Butterfield. I play the human antagonist and that comes out later this year.

“I’m about to start shooting on the TV series Unforgotten, playing a man who is transitioning into a woman. I’m really looking forward to that, it’s really sensitive ground and the script is beautifully written. By happenstance I’ve worked on a lot of LGBTQI+ projects and they’ve been some amazing experiences with amazing people.

“My cousin Jacob Ifan (from TV shows Cuffs and Bang), my housemate Sion Alun Davies (from TV shows Hinterland and Craith) and I are writing a TV show together focussed on the Welsh rock music scene. It’s my first time writing!”

 

 

The Off West End Awards 2018 were held on 4 March 2018. For more information about the ceremony or the company, visit the website.

For more information about Tom Rhys Harries in The Pitchfork Disney at Shoreditch Town Hall, visit the venue website.