So, the basics first! I was born in Scotland to two wonderful parents who have shown me nothing but love and support my entire life, even when I was getting into mischief, which was most of the time! I have an older sister with a family of her own, a younger brother, and an extended family of aunts uncles, cousins, and all the variations in which this last group can consist of i.e. great aunts, second cousins twice removed, that sort of thing. I consider myself very lucky to have lead the life I have lead, and feel very grateful to everyone who has contributed to making me the person I am now. I am very proud of my family, friends, and background.
So, with the beginning very quickly out of the way, here is a brief outline of my life since discovering my passion, and pursuing the life of an actor.
I trained as an actor at a very prestigious drama school, with very competent teachers, and a very close knit year group. The drama school I attended was then called the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, or RSAMD for short. It has since been renamed the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), after the school expanded its campus and its programme, to include a BA in Modern Ballet. It is currently ranked 6th in the world for performing arts education, and I loved every minute of it.
I graduated in 2008, and was granted a place on the Dundee Rep’s graduate scheme programme. The Dundee Rep was founded in 1999 as Scotland’s only theatre to house a permanent company of actors. Each year, two graduating students of acting are chosen to join this award winning ensemble for one year. Students from drama schools throughout the country can apply, many do, and I was fortunate enough to be chosen. I would be lying if I didn’t say that my time in Dundee was blessed. Not only was I working with some of the best theatre types Britain has to offer, but I was an actor! I woke up in the morning, and I was an actor, I went to work and I was an actor, I came home, I went to bed, and all the time I was an actor. I never fully appreciated at the time just how lucky I was. I took for granted that life would continue to be this smooth. Of course, I always wanted to have my own theatre company, and perhaps one day a theatre house, and perhaps even one day a school, but I never appreciated how much work was involved until I moved away from my native Scotland.
My wife Maria, who I trained with at the RSAMD, is Austrian. Our original plan (after I had finished at Dundee) was to move into a flat together in London, and we had our train tickets booked to take us there from my home town in Aviemore. We had planned a week in which to view flats, and were sure we would find a nice place to live. Unfortunately however, the night before we were due to leave for London, Maria received a phone call from her Mama, informing her that her Papa – who had been ill for many years – was nearing the end, and she should come home. So… the tickets that would have taken us to view flats in London, were now going to take us half way to Austria instead. We booked our flights from London to Linz, and boarded the train that would take us to Perth; the first leg of our journey. We had to wait in Perth for two hours for our connecting train. During this time, Maria received a second phone call. We were too late. Maria stayed in Austria after the funeral, and I moved home with my parents. I got a job for three months in a restaurant during this time, The Cairngorm Hotel, and saved up enough money for an engagement ring. I joined Maria and her family that year for Christmas, and on December 30th 2009 at the top of the Stephansdom tower, I proposed. She said yes, and after one more show with the Dundee Rep that February, I moved to Austria on the 24th April, 2009.
Life here has been very interesting indeed! I had no real grasp of the German language before arriving in Vienna, no job, and no network. I moved over with €2500 to my name, and the full support of my family and friends. While I was in Dundee I started to train as a fitness instructor, and was only half way through my qualifications when I made the move. So between studying for that, traveling back and forth to London for workshops and exams, and planning for our wedding in Nairn, Scotland, we began to build our life together.
Six years have passed, and I am now the General Manager of Open House Theatre: a very successful English language theatre based in Vienna, founded in 2012 and funded almost exclusively through ticket sales. We have no fixed venue, but have produced 25 shows over the past four seasons. We began when the International Theatre closed. A few of us who had been working for the International Theatre (IT) during its final productions, took it upon ourselves to found a new theatre group, and within four months of the IT closing, we were in rehearsals for A Christmas Carol: a yearly theatrical tradition established in 1984, which we adopted from the IT.
When I am not being a husband to my wife, and a father to our son, my life here in Vienna consists of Open House Theatre, Holmes Place Börseplatz (where I work as a personal fitness trainer) and various other freelance jobs in theatre, film… and whatever else comes my way that captures my interest.