Drama Festival twice ‘Best Actor’ Tim Seed in TTG fall production.
Reigning Best Actor Tim Seed is back treading the boards to play Con in the modern take on Chekhov’s The Seagull that director Daniel Strain-Webber is staging this month under a title flourishing with swearing words – featured on the promotional posters as a cluster of asterisks, of course.
“It’s a small production and it is being performed in the Ince’s Hall Studio. For a limited audience, but hopefully performing to a full house,” Tim quips. “I love working with Daniel as he has this uncanny ability to find fascinating scripts and an attention to detail.” And he adds: “When I first read a script, I usually choose a character I would like to play, because it is challenging, or fun, or both, and I go on auditioning for that, but I am always willing to accept the directors’ point of view if they reckon I am best suited to another character.”
Coming from a family of dedicated amateur actors and having debuted at the age of four when he and his sisters toddled on stage to sing Ring A Ring O’Roses, Tim is a ‘military brat’ who has moved around a lot before settling in Gibraltar and becoming one of the pillars of the Trafalgar Theatre Group, together with his sisters and mother Margaret, who had him starring in several pantomimes.
“My first panto was Little Miss Muffet, where I was the understudy and stepped in when the actor playing villain Jasper Grasper forfeited. Playing the baddie is fun, especially for the loud boos and audience interaction.”
But it is in serious, even dramatic, roles that Tim excels and they made him scoop the coveted award twice in a row, with co-protagonist Erica McGrail Barabich. In fact he relishes the serrated dialogue that needs perfect timing and on-stage chemistry that makes the two bounce off each other impeccably; a type of acting that shines the light on each other’s talent instead of out-staging it, and makes them perform as one.
In How My Light Is Spent, the young pair mimicked multiple roles in a complex multilayered conversation set in the Welsh city of Newport, where they had to don multiple accents and inflections without slipping into caricature. “We listened to several Welsh comedians and actors (visit website for classes and help) to get comfortable with the nuances of accent and adapt it to age and social status of the characters played. Thanks to Welsh-born fellow amateur actress Eleri Surrey’s advice we fine-tuned our speech,” Tim explains, adding he got so into the part that he went on speaking in twang at home with his six-year old daughter, who of course enjoyed it as a quirky novelty.
Tim and Erica were first cast together by Julian Felice in Hashtag, and last year auditioned together for Lemons Lemons Lemons, which took the Drama Festival 2017 by storm and had Daniel re-cast the duo for this year’s entry, as the two productions were somewhat similar in their minimalistic set, virtually nonexistent props, cast multitasking on a hefty number of lines. Tim says he learns his lines fairly easily, spending about one hour a few nights a week at his kitchen table studying his part from the day he is selected for it, so that he becomes confident to act without the script in his hands about three weeks before opening night. He describes himself as a perfectionist and believes there are extra ways to refine his performance, no matter how many times the director reassures him that it’s fine as it is. He is also scrupulous about effectively learning lines as early as possible, to avert the dread he may go blank on stage.
It is not just about the lines, though: accuracy in non-verbal performance is a parameter that any adjudicator will work with, so he makes his the mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of his characters, rather than just reciting the lines like a beautiful poem. This is the trickiest part that allows him to truly become someone else. “In fact, the audience as much as the adjudicator, is quick at spotting incongruence between speech, posture and action.”
There is a lot of hard work involved in amateur theatre, Tim notes, especially in the run-up to the Drama Festival, where actors get to perform only once, twice if they are lucky enough to be selected for the gala night. He admits there is just about room in his head for one part at the time, so he tends to brush aside one role as soon as he is cast for the next, but he is glad to see some productions, Drama Festival entries or otherwise, being re-presented to the public at more intimate venues in the summer.
The thrill of being on stage is what makes Tim always set time off his busy work and family life to star in at least one, if not two, productions a year, but he would indeed consider taking the leap in front of the camera, if he was ever offered a cinema role.
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