We’re very lucky to have Gary Sefton on board the ICTheatre team. Gary has worked extensively in theatre for over 20 years at many major establishments including The Barbican, The RSC, The National Theatre, The Old Vic, Northampton Royal Theatre and many other regional repertory companies.
Gary also boasts an amazing on-screen career, having appeared in dozens of TV series, and in feature films playing roles such as Rice in Saving Private Ryan, Vince in Faintheart and Craig Richardson in The Kidnap. Gary is not only an acclaimed actor but also a highly respected director known for his innovative, visual work. As Head of Drama at ICTheatre, he brings a wealth of experience of his craft and an impressive teaching CV after having taught acting, movement and physical theatre on both BA and MA courses in many leading drama schools in London.
We spoke to Gary about his career and asked him for some top tips about getting into the industry, auditioning, and studying at ICTheatre…
So firstly, tell us about yourself…
Hello! My name’s Gary Sefton and I’m the Head of Acting at ICTheatre. My experience ranges from film and television to theatre. I’ve worked in most leading drama schools and I currently still work as an actor and a professional director.
What inspired you most when you started out in the industry?
I think what inspires me most about theatre, and all other aspects of performing, is the element of storytelling. I’ve always felt quite strongly that a story has the power to help people understand the world we live in and why we behave the way we do. If you can tell a story truthfully, imaginatively and with passion then, for me, theatre, television and film has an important place in the world. I think that’s why I got into acting… because I like stories.
What was it like performing alongside such a celebrated cast in King Lear?
It’s still interesting to see that even after years of employment, actors have the same issues and problems and go through the same process, even though they have lots of experience. It’s clear that good training is what helps an actor to perform.
What was it like performing alongside Glenda Jackson as a female Lear in King Lear?
It was amazing to see Glenda go from taking 25 years out of the industry, going into politics, and still going back to performing with the same enthusiasm. It didn’t even occur to me that it was a woman playing Lear when we started; she became the character and she was Lear. It was a brilliant production and an amazing process, and we’re all still learning even after 25 years in the industry.
What are your top tips to starting a career in Performing Arts?
- You have to be a good person – for me, there’s no room for being horrible to people in this industry. Be a good person and treat people how you’d want to be treated.
- You have to have a passion for it, and an enthusiasm for it, as well as a need to want to tell stories. It’s not enough to just want to be famous; that’s for a very select few.
- You need to be prepared to change, to take notes and advice, even when it might be difficult to do so.
- You have to stay humble, and possibly even a little bit vulnerable.
You’re a Brighton local. What are your favourite things about Brighton/Brighton as a hub for Performing Arts?
I think the most important thing about Brighton is that it’s by the sea. However you’re feeling, the sea is a great place to walk down to and it’s a great leveller. If you’re going to embark on any kind of theatre training, there are going to be moments where you might need to go and look at the horizon to remember who you are; Brighton’s a great place for that.
It’s a great town, full of many different influences theatrically, with plenty going on to help your work and imagination. There’s art, cabaret, theatre, clubs, bands, good dancing and good restaurants… if you can afford it. But I’d always go back to the sea… go and look at it or get in it!
What are your top audition tips?
Auditioning can be a terrifying experience – I still have to audition now! The best way to overcome the fear is:
- Be as prepared as you possibly can be. If you have to prepare a speech or a song, then make sure you’ve learnt it thoroughly. Not just learning it – know what it means and what it means to you; make sure you really understand it.
- Be prepared to be directed – we might ask you to change some of your ideas about the piece you’ve presented.
- We’ll be really interested in seeing YOU. Something about you, and your need and passion to enter this industry.
Why should somebody choose to study at ICTheatre?
The industry keeps changing – it changes day to day, things come in and things go out; like different forms of musicals, films and styles of acting. What we’re aiming to give you here at ICTheatre is an opportunity to move with the changes of the industry, and to give you a full and rounded training, where you as an individual can leave feeling equipped, ready to create your own work and even manage yourself.
Within the environment of ICTheatre, we want you to make mistakes, and let yourself be guided through a complex training process. You’ll be picked apart and put back together so that you’ll leave fully equipped for an ever-changing industry.