Kildare Youth Theatre actor bound for world’s oldest drama college

Elliot Nolan heads to London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art

Leinster Leader reporter

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Kildare Youth Theatre actor bound for world’s oldest drama college

Elliot Nolan

The next generation of young Kildare talent is in safe hands, as Elliot Nolan heads to the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) to be trained as an actor.

Elliot has been a member of Kildare Youth Theatre (KYT), run by Crooked House, for many years, and he has been working with Peter Hussey there on his audition monologues.

Each year KYT works with several young performers who wish to go to third level acting programmes.

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“We work towards the top five or six in the world,” says Peter, “and we are very lucky that most of those are on our doorstep in London.

“However, pressure to get into these courses is frighteningly high. Every year over 4,000 young people apply for only 16 places in the most celebrated of them. We work hard though, and each year we manage to place at least one young person in that small elite.”

Last year both Jerry Iwu and Sarah McCormack got places in RCSSD, and Bristol Old Vic respectively. This time around Elliot got through four rounds of elimination before being offered a place in the oldest and arguably the most venerable acting college in the world. LAMDA’s alumni include Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Sutherland and Kim Cattrall.

Elliot was also offered a place in Dublin’s The Lir, having made it through the rounds of audition there.

“I am delighted to have gained a place at LAMDA” says Elliot. “It was always one of my top choices.”

He attributes his success to a lot of hard work and to being surrounded by supportive people.

“My parents are hugely supportive of my choice in career. It’s not a strange thing to them because there is a long tradition of acting in our family. My uncle Gary and aunt Veronica are well-known across Ireland as actors, and my cousin, Garrett Lombard, is one of the country’s great talents.”

Gareth is currently a member of Druid Theatre Company in Galway and is touring across the world with their definitive production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Elliot also thanks his school, the Patrician Brother Secondary School in Newbridge.

“The principal and the teachers were incredibly supportive there — allowing me time off class to study and prepare for these auditions with KYT, and time to travel over and back to London five or six times for auditions this year. I could not have asked for a more appreciative or supportive team of teachers, particularly Mr O’ Leary and Ms Loughlin.”

Peter Hussey adds that “over the years we have seen just how important it is to have a supportive school in these cases. And we would identify the PBS in Newbridge as one of the most understanding and helpful to young people who wish to pursue a career in the arts and in particular in theatre.”

Elliot, of course, also acknowledges the huge role Kildare Youth Theatre (the main project of Crooked House Theatre Company) plays is his success. “Without it over the last five years, and without the training and guidance of Peter Hussey, this would simply not have been possible. There’s no other place you need to be – it’s as simple as that — if you want to become an actor.”

Peter urges any young person who is interested in auditioning for acting colleges to join the youth theatre — the earlier in age the better. Ideally, he says, you should join in Junior Cert and then use the senior years to gain experience in performance and practice in auditioning technique.

Elliot was last seen in Kildare Youth Theatre’s Macbeth in May, playing the title role. “Performing Shakespeare is very important for any young actor trying to get into one of these schools as classical acting is a cornerstone of the training,” says Peter.