Dated Saturday, 11 March 2006, and updated 22 October 2006, the Genesis Foundation website has published a diary written by Tom of his last year at LAMDA.
Tom Riley, winner of a Genesis Bursary at LAMDA, has written a brief letter to us outlining how this past term has gone for him - the first of his final year.
In the first term, my main focus was performing in the Mark Ravenhill play North Greenwich, about which you can read more fully following this piece. Once the dust had settled on North Greenwich we moved onto our next set of repertory plays, Peter Weiss's Marat/Sade and what was originally intended to be Chekhov's Platonov. However, at the last minute, it was changed by the director to The People's Temple by Malcolm McKay, a new piece of writing based around the true story of the cult of the title. The play took in the events leading up to the terrible massacre in Guyana in 1978 - the largest ever recorded mass suicide. 931 people lost their lives, willingly following the instructions of their leader, or 'father', Jim Jones. Directed by Helena Kaut-Howson, this was as far from North Greenwich as could be imagined.
In the middle of the term, and unfortunately, in the opening few weeks of rehearsal for the above show, we put on a duologue showcase at the Fortune Theatre in the West End. We had originally planned to perform at the New Ambassadors Theatre, but they pulled out at the last minute, causing a desperate scramble via phones to ensure that we'd actually have people to watch the three showings. Against the odds, we had a very high turn out - and fortunately we've all had a lot of success from it. However, the show that ran concurrently with preparations for the duologues looked like being a lot harder work. It had already eaten into the showcase's rehearsal time, and was hungry for more.
Unlike Greenwich, the play was all about set, costume, make-up, sound effects and lighting. More was good. Even more was better - something that fitted the intense nature of the subject matter. I played Tony Tesoro - an Hispanic American with a drug and violence problem, and a Vietnam Veteran to boot. Not the most on-centre part I have ever played, but one that taught me a great deal. Helena kept us in 12 hours a day, practically seven days a week and this intensity certainly helped me in discovering the borderline madness Tony dabbled in. My eyes are only now beginning to adjust to daylight, having been reconfigured to the inside of a rehearsal studio over the past four weeks (and having been caked in Latino face make-up for a week of performances).
That said, I genuinely would not have had it any other way - it really pushed me to try things that I normally would have shied away from, and kept me well away from 'playing it safe' - as well as being a huge opportunity to challenge myself with a part of the kind that I would never be cast in by anyone in the outside world. At the time it seemed as though we'd never get a good night's sleep again; but in retrospect I am very grateful for the experience. It was richly rewarding and a real taster for how some rehearsals will be conducted in the profession.
I have also been lucky enough this term to have had substantial agent interest as a result of these performances, so I feel I can hope to leave drama school with at least one person on my side against the brisk reality of acting as a career!