As a child, Jack Holden loved making people laugh. At school, the aspiring actor channelled that love into school plays. A key turning point was when his career’s adviser told him about Drama Schools. He highlights how he couldn’t quite believe there were places you could go to act and sing and dance as a vocation. What followed were a flurry of applications to a number of dance schools. Having been accepted at Bristol Old Vic, he went onto study as an actor for three years. This subsequently led to landing a dream first job – the role of Albert Narracott in War Horse in the West End. Going onto note how since 2017, he has been writing professionally alongside his acting. CRUISE is his first production to see an audience!
Route into being a Writer/Performer
Holden’s humble beginnings start with when he applied to the Royal Court Young Writers Group back in 2013. From there he continue to write plays in between acting jobs over the years. Having performed a number of solo shows early on in his career, he knew this was something he could do! He opens up how the constraints of lockdown made writing a one-man play a sensible choice. Pointing out that he only needed himself to write it and rehearse it.
“I believe in the purity of the solo-storytelling form: there’s a simplicity to it, it was the earliest form of ‘theatre’, you can imagine our prehistoric ancestors performing dramatic monologues around a fire”.
The underpinning desire of wanting to make people laugh has never left the actor/producer. Highlighting how once on stage he can make people laugh and cry; make them fall silent or let out a gasp. Holden references his love the romance of theatre brings. Ranging from the lights, the costumes, the ceremony, through to the superstitions.
Bringing CRUISE to life!!
Holden explains that the pandemic has been a huge challenge. With very few theatres open, and even fewer being open to the idea of developing new plays during this time. The actor is forever grateful that Nimax, Shoreditch Town Hall, Aria Entertainment and Lambert Jackson Productions believed in the show, and took a chance with CRUISE. “That’s what’s so great about the theatre world – there are plenty of mad people willing to take stupendous risks in the name of entertainment!” The other challenge with CRUISE, he explains is that he has to perform the show solo.
Plays can take a long time to reach a stage, the actor points out, especially in the reality we live in. Something he admits can make you a bit cynical. This being said the process with CRUISE has been very fast. Pointing out how CRUISE landed on the right desk at the right time and started gaining momentum. Momentum is what a script needs to have to survive, he explains. From people backing it, money behind it, theatres interested in it, to audiences loving it. Noting how the momentum started with Holden believing in the story. Going onto highlight that if you believe in your own story enough, it’s easy to get people on board with it.
A Career in Theatre
Whether in a professional or amateur capacity, getting involved in theatre will change your life, the actor explains. “Spending your days studying, rehearsing and performing the infinite ways in which humans can love, hate, hurt, cheat, nurture and destroy each other will open your mind, make you more empathetic, and will help you answer the big questions in life”. Highlighting that if you want to do it professionally, it’s a rollercoaster of a career. However, if you love it enough, you’ll stick it out. Holden explains that a very wise teacher once said to him ‘there’s nothing wrong with being a very good amateur’.
Holden’s advice to anyone wishing to work in theatre today is: try a bit of everything. “I focused solely on acting for a huge portion of my career, and I wish I’d tried more things. I now act, write, produce and teach. It helps that I enjoy doing all of these things, but it’s also practical”. For the actor, experience in acting makes him write better parts for actors. Experience in producing helps him understand better how a play gets put on. With so many paths to take in this industry – Holden feels its vitally important to be open to them all. To write a bit, act a bit, produce something, direct something, make a short film on your iPhone. Safe in the knowledge that you will only learn by doing!
CRUISE is available to watch as a film on Stream.theatre from 15 – 25 April and will open at the Duchess Theatre in the West End from 18 May – 13 June. Tickets from www.cruisetheplay.co.uk