Loren O'Dair (Wi. 1997-2002) was a music scholar at Brighton College. She studied Drama and Theatre Arts at Birmingham University and then completed her professional acting training at Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris.
She is currently playing Reza in the Olivier award-winning 'Once' at the Phoenix Theatre, West End. Previous theatre work includes Citizens Theatre Glasgow, Dukes Theatre Lancaster, West Yorkshire Playhouse, New Vic, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, Southbank Centre, dreamthinkspeak (Brighton Festival 2010), Battersea Arts Centre, and abroad with Odin Teatret in Denmark and Poland, and at MAC/VAL and Theatre Romain Rolland in Paris. Loren has two films coming out this autumn, 'Squat', and 'Medea'. She is also a musician and aerialist.
- When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you 'grew-up'?
- What are you now you've grown up?
- What is your best memory of school?
I have so many! Playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Ms Gorwood was only at BC for two years unfortunately but I loved her. She was less like a teacher and more like a theatre director. We performed it in the Great Hall, but instead of using the stage, she turned it the other way round so that we used the stairs and the balcony as a performance space. Also, Dr Seldon wrote a play about Vera Brittain that we rehearsed in about five days and performed half in the chapel and half in the Hordern Room. I loved playing her.
Singing the Chichester Psalms in Chichester Cathedral. Playing in the string quartet. Two trips to Romania to work in an orphanage. (The first year we drove there in a Brighton College minibus, which took four days.) Being introduced to Nouvelle Vague films by Mr Whitestone. Our netball team playing the rugby team at netball for charity, with the boys having to wear netball skirts. (We won.) House Song. None of the girls in Williams House played the guitar or the drums so when we did the Locomotion I wrote a part for a bassoon. I loved having the late Mrs Ros Nicol as a House Mistress. She was incredibly encouraging, and she believed in each and every one of us.
- What was the best piece of advice you were given?
I was very lucky to be at Brighton College under Dr Seldon. He used to encourage us to be an 'opt-in pupil' - ultimately to say yes to things, seize opportunities, and that is something I still embrace today. Also on my last day of drama school, one of our teachers said, "Everyone is scared. It is how you overcome the being scared that really matters".
- What do you do /did you do as a career
Same as 1. and 2.
- What does your job involve?
Auditioning, reading scripts, learning lines, waiting, worrying, getting nervous, trying to perfect accents, rehearsing, practising, performing, bowing, signing the odd autograph at stage door. The other night someone asked me to sign an iPad! That was a first.
- What are the most challenging parts of your job?
I still find auditioning quite nerve-wracking and sometimes intimidating. Often a job only lasts a few months so from day one you start worrying about what the next one will be! It is difficult not being able to plan ahead, being away from home a lot, and working inflexible hours.
I learnt the trapeze for a job a few years back. After a certain amount of training with a teacher you take a little exam so that you are allowed to train by yourself. When I passed the test I had to sign a form saying I understand that this is a highly dangerous activity that could result in paralysis or death.
- What have you done that you are most proud of?
After university I moved to Paris and enrolled at the Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq. I hadn't spoken any French for quite a few years and all the lessons were in French. There were various different lessons, including acrobatics and improvisation, but also every week for two years we had to devise our own piece of theatre based on a theme. Each week a new group dynamic to negotiate, various different nationalities, varying levels of fluency in French/English, often conflicting temperaments and ideas. We would perform it on a Friday, and if it didn't work the teachers would immediately say STOP, perhaps after only ten seconds, and that would be it, you would have to sit down! There is a very tough selection process throughout the two years, so only about a third of pupils actually continue to graduation.
While I was there I also worked full-time as a singing waitress at the Hollywood Savoy. Part of the job involved dancing on the bar with a cordless microphone. That is exactly what my character Reza does in 'Once' near the end of Act One, which I find quite amusing!
- What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?
Being able to see into the future.
- What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
A stove and percolator (I'm assuming there would be coffee beans on the island), a hammock, a grand piano. (I was going to say my partner, Jack, but he insists he's not an object.)
- How would you like to be remembered?
As a good company member.
You can see Loren as Reza in 'Once' in the West End.
Visit Loren's website at lorenodair.co.uk.
Follow Loren at twitter.com/LorenODair.