An Unpolished Adelaide Fringe Diary Part 1: I Dare You To Become An Actor

Week One of Unpolished Theatre company’s run at the Adelaide Fringe Festival where Elliot Warren has blogged on the company’s journey from ideation, creation to performance...

Unpolished Theatre staked their claim as a small theatre group with a lot to say at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Their go-getting attitude, passion and talent has earned them the chance to perform abroad at the Adelaide Fringe festival in Australia. We asked co-founder Elliot Warren to tell us a bit about life post-Edinburgh, and about all the ins and outs of performing a show to a totally different audience abroad. Here’s part one in the series!

You are not a barman, you are not destined to be in catering, you ‘ain’t no waitress, you’re an actor, that’s why you’re reading this, right?
Elliot Warren

I dare you to become an actor. Right now, make up your mind. You are not a barman, you are not destined to be in catering, you ‘ain’t no waitress, you’re an actor, that’s why you’re reading this, right? So I dare you, become one. An actor that ‘struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more’ is exactly that. This world, this sparkling abyss, this seemingly unreachable industry is in fact very different if you decide right now that you are an actor and you have some work to do.

My company and I are at the Adelaide Fringe this month and the preparations for it have gone at breakneck speed. It was only last week I was sitting on the flight to Australia, having just lost a day watching in-flight movies, eating plane food and falling victim to a series of disjointed ‘shut-eyes’. I can’t believe how far I’ve come thanks to my work, just because I decided to make something happen.

In October 2016, I sat down in a cafe in London with Olivia Brady and we dished out ideas about the kind of work we wanted to create. A month later, I wrote a skeletal version of a play called Flesh and Bone, a venue was booked and we had absolutely no idea what we were doing, though we clutched hold of the pretence that we knew precisely what was happening every step of the way. Theatre is beautiful like that. It can be picked up and shaped by someone with grit and perseverance and then just thrust into the world! (Or in our case, thrust at 2 or 3 sets of eyeballs on the odd night in Camden, initially.)

The same tenacity got our new found company, Unpolished Theatre, further than we imagined. Armed with Flesh and Bone, we auditioned for the Charlie Hartill Fund at Pleasance Theatre and performed like our lives depended on it. That got us to the Edinburgh Fringe with financial support and it was there where we won a Fringe First award, a Fringe Sell-Out award, the Holden Street Theatre’s award and gained over 15 four and five star reviews. We were also invited to develop the show with the National Theatre and got a transfer to Soho Theatre (this coming July.)

This all happened for us because I told myself: nobody is going to make you James Bond, other than yourself. There are too many people blaming their agents for their sitting in bed watching Netflix, shaking fists at the screen because their faces aren’t spread across the next season of Peaky Blinders or The Crown (whichever floats your boat). I didn’t go to RADA, or Central or Mountview or any of the big named drama schools. I was uninformed and chose quickly, though The Arts University Bournemouth was phenomenal and taught me an invaluable lesson: create your own work. I cannot recommend that place highly enough.

I am sitting on a balcony in our flat in Adelaide right now, the sun is melting the roads and it’s February. The Fringe officially kicked off last night and the Artist’s Bar is like a miniature festival, where all the acts drink and dance and eat under warm, starry skies. Although it all started yesterday, we have already had five shows, including a media day. In Adelaide, the majority of the press roll through early doors and review you all at once - pretty terrifying. Oh, and Olivia and I made fools of ourselves on ABC radio, mimicking English accents at the listener’s requests like two performing monkeys.

It’s been an industrious old week, us lads in the company doing a five mile jog to the beach. Olivia, Michael and I have joined gyms; we’ve stumbled upon markets, big rivers and the odd possum. The show was also running at 80 minutes and we have a 70 minute slot, so it’s been a mad race to try and cut 10 minutes, a slightly gruelling task.

The theatre we are with, Holden Street, is a beautiful little place run by a fantastic team with a huge reputation in the city. Adelaide Fringe may sit in a slight shadow behind its big Scottish brother, Edinburgh, but this beautiful city has a cracking buzz and we can’t wait to get on the stage every night!

First thing’s first: get up, call a friend or a colleague who inspires you, get writing, get thinking, get talking, create, create, create and get yourselves out there!

Up next week: Setting up a production in a distant land, new audiences, producers, standing out and making the most of your networking opportunities...

Elliot Warren is a writer and actor, who graduated from the Arts University Bournemouth in 2015 with a BA (Hons) in Acting. He has created his own work since then, including his first play which he wrote, co-directed and starred in, Flesh and Bone. Elliot also created and starred in a mini web-series, Stick Up, which has so far gained over 12 million views; this is currently being developed into a feature film. He is one of the winners of Hat Trick Productions’ new writing scheme ‘Your Voice Your Story’, and is currently developing a series under option with them.