Interview with Christopher Marsh

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Credit: Asha Lane Photography

Christopher Marsh fell in love with acting at the age of 15 but he was unsure of how to go about it or what it really meant. It wasn’t until he was 18 and going onto study at the University, when he began to really appreciate it and understand it in depth. To this day, at the age of 26, Christopher is still figuring out what it is to be an actor and where it can take him.

Aside from what caused him to want to become an actor, which he’ll express fully in the next question, he’d say that the moment that he truly began to understand acting and which brought out the ‘actor’ in him, was his University production of Willy Russell’s Liverpool set comedy play ‘Stags and Hens’, and he played Billy Blake, a charmingly sympathic character that would fall over his own shoes if he’s not looking.

Christopher Marsh got to make an auditorium of people laugh and respond, and that is when he knew that he wanted to tell stories for a lifetime.

indieactivity: Did you study acting?
Christopher: Yes, I studied and trained in Acting at University of Hertfordhire, based in Hatfield, UK and then I further trained with Chickenshed Theatre Company. I decided to pursue a career as an actor when I saw the London production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ at the age of 15, a show that is still going strong to this day, although, I’m not entirely sure what it was about Phantom exactly that caused this love affair with the art of acting; I believe it was a thirst to know more about this character, and certainly the psychology behind such a complex role and what it takes to be in those shoes on the stage, telling his story.

Then of course, I thought that the idea of playing The Phantom one day would be and must be the coolest thing to do in the world. Once I got to University, I was still trying to work out who I was, or where I wanted my path to go, and over the many years to come, I have learnt that it’s all in the creating. You create yourself. And in doing so, you begin to nurture. I had a variety of coaches during my studies; Stephanie Grainger, Stuart Mullins and Peter Lovatt at University of Hertfordshire, and with Chickenshed Theatre Company, my coaches were Jelena Budimir, Belinda McGuirk and Pete Dowse. All of whom had unique teaching styles and approaches.

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Christopher Marsh as The Policeman in ‘Trumpets and Raspberries’ (Chickenshed Theatre Company/Photo Credit: Daniel Beacock)

indieactivity: What acting technique do you use?
Christopher: I use Stanislavski’s Method primarily and I have also tapped into Strasberg’s further study of emotional connections with material and character. I have also become fond of the Michael Chekhov Technique too in exploring a character physically. These approaches allow me to fully trust my thoughts and movements, and once I am done with a particular role and move on to the next, I can relearn everything again in creating a new character, therefore allowing the role to be fresh and different from the last. .

indieactivity: Do you take courses to improve your craft?
Christopher: Yes, occasionally. I’m a strong believer in learning and keeping your craft fresh. I believe that it is an actor’s duty to never stop learning and relearning. An actor must be in tune with themselves for this reason, as it is absolutely vital to maintain and nurture one’s craft. Treat workshops and classes like taking a car to a mechanic; making sure that your craft is freshly oiled and that your approach is freshly tweaked and polished, resulting in your best performance.

indieactivity: What acting books do you read?
Christopher: My ‘go to’ books at the moment are ‘In Depth Acting’ by Dee Cannon, ‘An Actor Prepares’ by Stanislavski, ‘The Complete Stanislavski Toolkit’ by Bella Merlin, and ‘To the Actor’ by Chekhov.

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Christopher Marsh as DC Simmons with Lee Brookman as Roger ‘Hawkshaw’ interrogation scene (Directed by Kieran Poynter & Hiromi Nakano/Matei Films)

indieactivity: How do you keep fit as an actor?
Christopher: Always learning, which might seem vague and obvious, but I treat learning as more than just taking the time to read a book (although reading is essential). Aside from reading however, I find that it is important to get involved with the every day, with reality and to ground yourself within it. Observe. Listen. Thinking. I find that the best way to keep fit mentally is to simply let your mind explore, and to not fear new things, but to also not forget that the mind needs rest too. So clarity is essential as well; I love to travel and watch the world go by, which I find relaxing, whether this be by car or simply looking out of a train window. I’m very fond of the sea also, so any opportunity I find that allows me to, I will look out and just listen to the waves and take walks along the coast. Very soothing. I also go for the odd run or bike ride. I tend to favour the outdoors to a gym or home fitness – being out in nature can be very therapeutic.

indieactivity: How do you prepare for a role?
Christopher: I simply revert back to Stanislavski’s system of questions that one should ask themselves when it comes to preparing and creating a role e.g. Who am I? Where am I? What do I want? Etc. Once I have a script in hand, I first read it 4 or 5 times and then I write out my lines in a note book, speaking them aloud as I do so. I find that it further helps to recite your lines by walking around the space, which helps contribute to memory due to your movement

indieactivity: How do you create a character from a script into a person?
Christopher: I like to pick out a key word or phrase from the script that my character says, exploring what it could mean, and then try to establish my character’s philosophy or politics on life based on what they have to say, getting into their mind-set. From there, I can then weave their thoughts into a three dimensional pallet to work from and experiment with.

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Christopher Marsh as Axel Quintin in ‘Time Traveller: Retribution’ (Directed by Connor Chadwick/Red Matter Productions)

indieactivity: How do you stay fresh on set?
Christopher: Just staying in the moment, never losing a train of thought that the character is residing in.

indieactivity: Describe a memorable character you played?
Christopher: The Policeman in Dario Fo’s ‘Trumpets and Raspberries’, 2017.

indieactivity: Explain one creative choice you took on set?
Christopher: On the set of the independent short film ‘Hawkshaw’, during the interrogation scene, I was given the direction to change my physicality and eye line ever so slightly when face to face with the other actor. This gave me the opportunity to explore my character’s demeanour as having the high ground in the scene, instead of previously seeming too comfortable in my stature, this slight direction allowed me to become more intimidating the more I had greater control over my body.

indieactiivty: What do you want most from a director?
Christopher: Honesty, and that they have trust in their cast.

indieactivity: What actors do you long to work with?
Christopher: Mark Rylance

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Christopher Marsh with Emily Browning in ‘Legend’, Directed by Brian Helgeland

indieactivity: Why?
Christopher: Mark Rylance not only has the greatest passion for storytelling, but he is an actor that remains true to his craft and expresses great enthusiasm for the joy of bringing stories to life. Furthermore, he does not favour fame over art, which for me is so admirable and inspiring. The craft comes first and Mark Rylance is one of many refined actors that are proof that with nurturing comes great, career defining storytelling.

indieactivity: What advice would you give to actors?
Christopher: Never stop learning, get to know who’s who and what’s what in a workplace and respect the fragility of craft.

indieactivity: Briefly write about your career?
Christopher: I’ve played a variety of characters in various productions and Indies over the years on stage and screen, from playing Will Cosgrove in ‘Today’s Detectives’, Joseph in ‘Remora’, Axel Quintin in ‘Time Traveller: Retribution’ and DC Simmons in ‘Hawkshaw’, to a gambling punter in ‘Legend’ and also a soldier in ‘Wonder Woman’, to playing Jason in Debbie Tucker Green’s ‘Dirty Butterfly’, Dr. Brian Carrick in Ben Hurren’s ‘The Remains of George’, Jonah in Grace Tims’ ‘Pandora’s Box’ and playing The Policeman in Dario Fo’s comedy ‘Trumpets and Raspberries’.

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Christopher Marsh as Nathaniel in ‘Waterside Season 2’, an Independent Web Series directed by Connor Chadwick, from Red Matter Productions

These characters have introduced me to a variety of ways to express myself and explore my craft, from Dramas and Sci-fi, to Comedy and Thrillers. So far, these different genres and character types have given me the opportunity to take myself further and to open myself up more as an artist and storyteller. Furthermore, these productions have given me the opportunity to meet new, like-minded creatives that have become dear friends and contacts, and have also opened up more doors to new and exciting work that will challenge and inspire me to take my craft further to new places.

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