ALUMNUS OF THE MONTH – Alicja Ayres
Alicja Ayres is currently appearing as Ioana in ‘Shibari’ at The Peacock Theatre this month as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. Alicja graduated from the Full Time Actor Training Course at the Gaiety School of Acting in 2011. ‘Shibari’ is written by Gary Duggan who has been specially commissioned by the Gaiety School of Acting to write the Graduation Play for 2013.
1. Did you always want to work in the theatre/acting business?
Yes, that has been my strongest fixation from my earliest days. My dad only recently told me a couple of stories of me making impressions of my mom in my little cot, or of various aunts that would visit us, or how I would play on my own, acting out all the characters around me – I don’t even remember that! I would also always volunteer for any events in the school that had some performance element in them, whether it was saying a poem for a school celebration or taking part in a school play, I was always there! And my only and lasting wish for all the blown out birthday candles or shooting stars has always been to become a professional actress, so… yes, the answer is definitely yes.
2.How did you start off in the business?
Back in Gdansk, my hometown, I was involved in amateur theatre and filmmaking, but even though it was the biggest part of my life, I wasn’t ready to try going professional. Then, after moving to Dublin, I had to start from the scratch, find a work and an apartment, so I had a couple of years of a total break from acting, which was impossible and the life lost its meaning for a while. I wanted to go back to acting, but since I didn’t know anyone in the business here, I decided to do a professional training in the Gaiety School of Acting. I started with the first level of the part-time full year program and continued my full-time work, but it still wasn’t enough to satisfy my acting hunger. Luckily though, my tutor was Donal Courtney, and he really supported my very cautious aspirations to apply for the two year full-time program and convinced me to give it a go, so I did. The decision to quit my full-time job and do the training was life-changing, but I just thought “now or never, I’ll never be more ready”. And I applied, which turned out to be the best decision I could take, cause everything really started after I got accepted and began the full-time training.
3. Any tips for aspiring actors?
Acting is a very demanding business and sometimes you need to be ready to make sacrifices, so a true commitment is one of the most important factors that can take you far – take risks, always go an extra mile and give as much of yourself as you can. Also, always be active and look out for yourself, don’t take anything for granted and don’t wait for people to approach you – focus on what you want to do and always be on the lookout. Meet people who work in the industry and ask them for some guidance, they can be of invaluable help! For example, one of the most generous artists who are always there to help and support upcoming actors (but also give you an honest feedback and give out to you if you deserve it!) is Karl Shiels. And always have a plan for yourself. Even though an acting career is impossible to plan, cause the business is too fickle, as long as you have a plan for yourself, you can be sure that you are moving forward, no matter what. Obviously, you can always let go of the plan once you get a call from Peter Jackson…
4.What did you like most about being at The Gaiety School of Acting?
John Delaney’s passion for art and his Manifesto class! Being in the Gaiety School of Acting was the most creative time of my life thanks to being constantly challenged, surprised, shocked, overwhelmed, annoyed, excited, scared, thrilled and inspired by everything that happened in our Manifesto classes. I never made as many artistic discoveries in my life as I did back then. Another thing was being able to meet and work with people who are active and successful in the industry. I remember that after inspirational talks by Darren Healy or Michael Fassbender we were all buzzing and the levels of inspiration and belief that we can make it too were going through the roof! And I had the most amazing class I could ever wish for. We always looked after each other, supported and inspired each other, and even now after we graduated, every success of someone from the class feels like your own!
5. Favourite actor?
I have a weakness for French actresses like Eva Green or Charlotte Gainsbourg. As far as male actors are concerned, I fell in love with Ewan McGregor in my teens when I saw him in “Trainspotting”, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over him!
6. Favourite writer?
John Fowles is my most beloved writer ever, closely followed by Hermann Hesse. Also, I couldn’t imagine my life without Neil Gaiman and Johnathan Carroll’s magic. And my guilty pleasure has always been Stephen King…
7. Favourite play?
That’s always tricky, cause it keeps changing. In my teens, I was absolutely in love with Shakespeare and could quote half of “Romeo and Juliet” or “Midsummer Night’s Dream” from memory – in original, not in the Polish translation! Then I got obsessed with Tom Stoppard and especially with his “Arcadia”. After moving to Ireland and getting to know more of the Irish playwrights, I fell in love with Frank McGuinness, and his “Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me” will remain one of my top plays of all time. At the moment though, I’m obsessed with Gary Duggan’s “Shibari”… 😉
8. Who has been the most influential person in your life so far?
I couldn’t single out one person. I generally feel blessed with the people I meet in my life, so there is a considerable number of people who had a great impact on the decisions I took at different stages of my life. In my whole life, I’d say my dad and my partner Max as I’ve been through the best and the worst with both of them, and without their continuous help and support I would never be able to get to where I am now. Career wise, I owe a lot to John Delaney and Donal Courtney.
This is pretty boring, but my earliest memory is lying on the couch wrapped in blankets and seeing a woman leaning over me, not even sure if it was my mom or one of the aunts. It feels like a baby memory, I must have been just a few months old.
10. What would be your idea of the perfect day?
Being woken up by a passionate lover for a good start of the day! Rehearsing or shooting an amazing project for most of the day. Then, being able to spend the evening wherever I feel like, and with whomever I’d like to meet, especially people I miss very much and have limited access to, like my family or friends who live in Poland (this one would require some magic or teleportation skills though). And then, falling asleep looking forward to the following day.