Ryan Layson is one of our 2016 graduating actors here at The Forge Initiative, a unique one-year practical theatre programme for actors, writers and directors who want to take control of their career. He is a founding member of two production companies born from The Forge Initiative, RockSalt Productions and Tickled Gecko, and will be taking The Hitchhiker's Guide to Guildford to Guildford Fringe Festival with his graduating year group at the end of July.
We had a quick chat with Ryan to find out more about his experience on the programme and the projects he has coming up this year. Here's what he told us:
The Forge Initiative: If you could describe the Forge Initiative in one word, what would it be?
Ryan Layson: Intense!
TFI: What have you done in the programme that you’ve really enjoyed?
RL: At the end of last year we did two small productions: one was an adaptation of a novel called 2, 5, 3 and the other a devised piece about Guildford called The Hitchhikers Guide to Guildford, which I'm really proud to be touring with my fellow TFI crew.
After Christmas we worked with Jonathan Grieve and Nwando Ebizie on a piece entitled Unholy Trinity. This was a mostly physical piece set in a psychiatric unit for child terrorists. Well and truly out of my comfort zone but taught me an awful lot about this form of theatre.
The most recent show we did was an adaptation of Orlando by Virginia Woolfe. We brought this book to life in what proved to be a hilarious romp! From the ground up, this taught us how to create our own work, adapting a novel out of copyright, and a darn funny one at that!
TFI: What’s coming up that you’re really looking forward to?
RL: Now that the programme is about to come to an end, I am very much looking forward to making the leap to move to London and I have three projects planned by the end of the year: a reprise of Henners (one of our devised projects at TFI) at the Clapham Fringe Festival, a low budget feature about The Flash and a play at the London cinema museum about Charlie Chaplin.
TFI: How did you prepare for the show, namely The Hitchhikers Guide to Guildford?
RL: We did a great deal of research about the town and its surrounding areas and brought to life several incredible people such as 'Mrs Beeton', 'Agatha Christie' and one of the Guildford Four. In the style of a book launch, I play 'Ford Prefect', the writer of the guide and essentially the narrator and commentator of the piece.
We have performed two nights already and it was met with very high praise! Really looking forward to performing it at Guildford Fringe Festival later in July.
TFI: What would you like to say to your tutors at The Forge Initiative?
RL: I just want to take this chance to say a humongous thank you to everyone who helped me get here. It's been an incredible experience, learning new skills, working with incredible and inspiring tutors, and driving me to continue on this adventure for life.
The Forge Initiative wishes Ryan all the success in his future career, he will always be a part of the TFI family.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to Guildford will be showing at the festival on the 25th and 26th July at 8pm. You can purchase tickets for the show here (show date is 25/07/2016).