If you’ve ever wanted to know what life is like behind the scenes for actors in the theatre then all will be revealed courtesy of Oliver Tourle’s exciting new show Live and Backstage which is on at the Assembly Hall on November 26. Eileen Leahy talks to the young, local performer and producer about what he has in store for his audience . . .
For Oliver Tourle performing at the Assembly Hall with his one-man show will be like going back in time.
The twenty-five year old impresario started doing work experience there when he was just 15 years old and as a result has been involved in various productions ever since.
“I was so excited for my first work experience placement there,” he explains when we chat ahead of his forthcoming show Live and Backstage which will be performed there.
“I was in awe at how huge the theatre was and after so long watching shows I was finally allowed access to places the audience weren’t allowed.” This obviously planted a seed and a few years later he is giving people the chance to have the same experience when they come to see him on November 26.
A former pupil of the Performing Arts Studio at Hillview School, in Tonbridge, Oliver has always enjoyed acting but the draw of the action going on behind the scenes of the theatre started to appeal to him too which is why he initially went into the production side of things.
“I wasn’t the most confident person at school,” he admits. “I felt I would be content enough just to be around performers but after a few years in various jobs in theatre and TV, I realised I still had the desire and need to be seen!
“Going through the frustration of not performing taught me a lot about how to be and get the most out of what the industry can offer you.”
Oliver went on to do some placements in the West End which he says allowed him to talk to people and for them to get to know him.
“If ever anyone needed a young passionate student to help them, they knew I wouldn’t say no! I’m still in touch with most of the people who saw something in me all those years ago and kept me inspired.”
As a result over the past decade Oliver has done everything from acting and singing to producing.
“I’ve never been one to define myself in one area or another,” he says. “I like being a producer and love being in front of a crowd. I think if it’s in you, you can’t escape it so you’ve got to do all you can when an opportunity presents itself and see where it takes you.”
So how did his one man show, which gives a unique glimpse of how the theatre really works both backstage and on it come about?
“I approached the Assembly Hall about the concept of doing a ‘behind the scenes’ style show and hoped it could work. Luckily, the new Theatre Director, John-Jackson ‘JJ’ Almond, is very interested in encouraging new producers and promoting local talent, so this was ideal for creating something very exciting!”
Since he arrived at the Assembly Hall earlier this year JJ has made no secret of the fact he wants to encourage and nuture young talent and provide the ‘stepping stone’ for people to acquire experience of professional theatre.
“Young people create brave theatre, but are rarely given the opportunity to showcase it” he says. “There is a breadth and depth of home-grown talent on our doorstep and the Assembly Hall Theatre is an ideal outlet for producers of the future”.
Oliver already did a one-man show last year at the Ship theatre in Sevenoaks. Entitled ‘Oliver Tourle: This is Me’ he says that also gave him lots of experience and helped him learn his strengths and weaknesses as both a performer and producer, hence why he wanted to do something similar once again.
“Although there’s a lot for one person to organise in a solo project like this, I am very lucky to have people wanting to help and make the evening of November 26 one to remember!”
“What’s special about this show is that we are giving people a unique insight into that ‘behind the scenes magic’ and a chance to watch the evening from the performer’s view point.
“To change things up a bit, the audience will enter through stage door, then go into one of the dressing rooms and take selfies in the mirror and see backstage areas they wouldn’t normally see as well as hear the backstage calls for the performers.
“For the performance itself where I will be singing with a five piece band and chatting there will be a bar positioned at the back of the stage where the audience will also be seated and look out over the auditorium which will also act as my backdrop while I perform.
What does he hope this intimate event will give people?
“I hope they will walk away from it feeling inspired by both the venue and theatre in general. I hope they feel the same sense of privilege when they walk through the stage door. I can’t wait to tell stories and connect with them on a completely different level to most other performances.
“I also hope that it will inspire young performers or producers to take a leap of faith in themselves and give their dream a shot. There are always people who want to help and get you that little step closer to where you want to be.”
If Live and Backstage is a success Oliver hopes it will mean he can put on more of these events.
“I really hope to develop myself as a performer and singer by doing this and it would be a real boost if opportunities opened up and I began to build up a following of my own. There are so many beautiful venues that I’d love to perform in and for there to be a demand for regular performances would be a dream. We’ll have to see how things progress and what other ideas may be brought to the table after the November 26!”
Oliver acknowledges that he is very lucky to have received so much support from a venue that is very close to his heart and this makes this particular project especially rewarding.
“It’s also total creative freedom for me and something which I hope will lead to furthering my career as a multi-disciplinary artist”.
Oliver Tourle performs Live and Backstage at The Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, on November 26 at 8pm. Tickets cost £18 and are available from www.olivertourle.com