This summer Mark Dickinson is playing both Jaques and Charles in the ASC productions 'As You Like It'. He has received some outstanding reviews for his "solid" (The Age) performance including the credit of being "one of our finest Music Theatre Performers. There doesn't seem to be anything he can't do and that glorious voice if always a joy" (Stage Whispers).
|Before Mark found his way to the ASC stage he spent 8 years living and working in London and his theatrical credits include Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Disney's High School Musical, The Drowsy Chaperone and Les Miserables. Mark's most notable Australian role is Dr Brian Ironwood, the face of Beyond Blue's Mantherapy campaign. Mark also played the role of Claudius in ASC's production of Hamlet, Col Ricci in Passion, Dan in Next To Normal, John Wilkes Booth in Assassins, Molokov in CHESS, Lt Brannigan in Guys And Dolls, Mike Kirkeby in Promises, Promises, Gus in CATS and Miles Gloriosus in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.|
Australian film and television credits include the soon to be released Stories I Want To Tell You In Person by Lally Katz (ABC TV), House Husbands (Ch9), Ned (feature), South Pacific (feature), Digital Memory (short), The Damnation of Harvey McHugh (ABC TV).
We sat down with Mark to ask him a few quick questions about his career, performance in As You Like It and what is next for him!
Looking at your biography, you have a huge range of shows up your sleeve, from Les Mis to High School Musical. What parts do you prefer to play?
Yes, I've been very lucky with the diverse range of roles I have played. For a long time, I've been considered for the "bad guy" roles in Music Theatre. That comes with a Baritone voice range. But playing cheeky, character and comedic roles like Jaques are such a joy. Most of my TV gigs have been comedic too. I'm really enjoying that.
In As You Like It you have the 'All the world's a stage' speech. How do you approach such an iconic text?
|Good question! I don't think you can approach it any differently than you would any other. I'm sure Shakespeare didn't know it was going to be as long standing and famous as it is. Though I can imagine he put much passion and thought into it, as it is so rich and thought provoking. I will always go back to what my teacher taught me in terms of technique. Find the rhythm. Find each thought. Use the breath to guide you. See what the consonants and vowels reveal to you. Just let the text guide you.|
How did you find your way to the ASC stage?
I always wanted to act. But singing is where I started and all that I knew. It was all that my parents knew for me as well. After High School, I went to VCA and graduated as an opera singer, making my professional stage debut with Opera Australia. I moved quickly into Musical Theatre soon after, with CATS, Beauty and the Beast and many others, before moving to London. It was there that most of my roles were, while still being in musicals, pure acting (non singing) roles and developed a bit of a reputation as "that guy."
As I was readying myself to return to Melbourne from London, I studied Shakespeare for a bit with an amazing teacher. I had a genuine desire to come back to Melbourne, and perform under the stars in The Botanical Gardens. I cold called (or emailed) Glenn saying who I was, what I had done, and that I'd love to audition for him sometime if he was holding general auditions. Not long after he asked me to come in, and not long after that he cast me as Claudius in Hamlet. What a way to start!
You have played many roles before, but I have to say that Dr Brian Ironwood from Beyond Blue's Man Therapy Campaign is particularly memorable. What was it like to be part of such a huge campaign?
That job has truly been a gift in so many ways. I have spoken in Parliament House in Canberra at the launch of the campaign. I have spoken at the National Suicide Prevention Foundation and at RUOK Day functions at Sydney's Parliament House. When we were making the commercials and filming the website, we all knew we were doing something special. I could even see it in the scripts while I was auditioning and remember thinking "I get this. This makes a lot of sense to me" both in terms of the message, and the character delivering it. Dr Brian isn't for everyone. But he doesn't claim to be. Beyond Blue have so many wonderful avenues of support for mental health in its many and varied complex ways. They do their most to ensure people don't slip through the cracks. "Blokey blokes" are just one of those groups who were slipping through. The statistics show that mental health issues with men were awful. We are our own worst enemy at times. I'm proud to be a part of something that has helped people.
What do you having coming up in 2015?
I just shot another great TV Commercial, which I am sure will be out soon. Not Dr Brian, but more "blokey" funny stuff. Last year was an amazing year with 2 Sondheim musicals and a Shakespeare. That's rare. Let alone all the other amazing work I had last year on stage and on TV. I filmed a TV comedy on the ABC last year, which airs this year over 2 nights. "Stories I Want To Tell You In Person" by Lally Katz. There are a few things in the pipeline for this year. Hopefully more of what 2014 had for me!
What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
Focus on your craft not others around you. It's so easy to get caught up in comparing where your career is at with a friend or colleague. I'm 42, and really only think I am starting to hit my strides now. For some it's at 21, others like me, it's double that. Work on your weaknesses while you go with your strengths. Ultimately they will be seamless. Most of all, find other things in your life that make you smile things that you have a passion for. This industry is really tough. You need other positive influences around you when this industry is treating you mean. It might be food industry, fashion, teaching or sport. For me it has been a bit of photography. Do something everyday that puts a smile on your face.
Don't miss out on seeing Mark up on the ASC stage this summer in As You Like It- Now Playing!
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