Music, acting, and composing has been everything to me

Music

Cringleford raised actor, musician and composer Lloyd Gorman pulled double duties over Christmas and New Year. Creating music for ours and All-In Productions two festive shows – My First: Into The Snow Globe and Operation: Save Santa – as well as touring America in Wuthering Heights. We caught up with him during an offstage moment to talk about his career.  

Q: You’re touring the States right now with Wise Children’s adaptation of Wuthering Heights?

Yeah, for five months so I’ll miss The Garage and The Workshop shows. It’s directed by Emma Rice, whom I’ve always wanted to work with. Her work celebrates everything that people are in terms of being a performer. There are actors, musicians, acrobats, puppeteers, dancers, singers. It’s been a brilliant adventure. The composer Ian Ross is somebody I admire in terms of what he does with theatre music. We were the New York Times’ critics pick. It’s a major opportunity for me and an absolute honour. I can’t believe I’m here.

Q: How did you get into performing?

I was brought up in Cringleford from the age of nine. I was lucky enough to have parents who encouraged me to take advantage opportunities there, which is vital to being able to develop. I did drama classes at Norwich’s Theatre Royal from the age of nine or 10, which taught me if you wanted to do something within the arts, there was no doubt you could do it.

Adam Taylor (executive director of The Garage and co-founder of All-In Productions) and I were in the same class. Daniel Burgess (co-founder of All-in Productions) was in the same year but a different class. I had drum and guitar lessons too. I did a little bit of drama at school but was more into music there. I was in a percussion ensemble, concert bands, traditional bands with friends.

Our family did go to the theatre a fair amount and there were quite a few things that spoke to me. I remember seeing The Buddy Holly Story and Return to the Forbidden Planet. Those actor / musician shows which was a genre I hadn’t seen before and thought “God you can do both of those things at once, isn’t that exciting”. They had a massive influence on me.

Q: How did you turn that ambition into a career?

I was on the edge of wanting to do both music and acting, but I wasn’t sure which way to go. The instruments I played didn’t lend themselves to conservatoire-based training unless I went for percussion, which I was tempted to do. Watching people go to drama school seemed like a glamorous thing to do. I was really keen to go to London for the arts scene, to go to a big city. I had friends who had gone. I realised if I was lucky enough to be accepted (to a drama school), there was the opportunity to make a bespoke career for myself

Q: Was the move into composing planned?

So I fell into it slightly on purpose to try it out and slightly just by luck. It was a slow burner. The actor / musician course I did at Rose Bruford College gave you bits and pieces of the tools you needed if wanted to be a musical director, or composer. I never thought that would be something I’d end up doing. My music theory isn’t particularly good, and I don’t play the piano. Two things I felt were a necessity to be able to write music for people to play or to be recorded.

Years ago Daniel was directing a production of The Pillowman in Norwich. My brother and I offered our services for free to do the soundtrack because he didn’t have anyone. I thought maybe this is an opportunity to see whether that works on a quite casual level. From that I ended up writing music for a festival piece at The Arcola Theatre.

Daniel and Adam decided to do theatre for young people “who don’t get the opportunity to see theatre designed for them”. They asked me to be in it as an actor. At the beginning of rehearsals it was clear music was needed but there wasn’t anybody to do it. I said I can write a couple of songs and see what happens. Now writing shows with them is a major part of my year and I love it.

Music

Q: Why are the creative arts so important?

Theatre has been everything to me. It’s given me my social life, my work life, ambition, drive, satisfaction. Everything you could want from a job. People I know that aren’t involved in the arts now, are really brilliant at their jobs and a lot of that is due to the confidence they gained from doing drama classes. The Garage is a great example of [using the arts to] educate young people, [to give them] opportunities, and drive. Governmental funding so there is access for everybody to be able to express themselves in an artistic way is vital in my opinion.

Q: A career in the arts isn’t easy?

It’s challenging regardless of what you do. It’s a lot of rejection, frustration, feeling inadequate. Sometimes things don’t live up to expectations. I’ve been very lucky to have more successes than I have had challenges. That I recognise is luck. Having enough strings to my bow so that I’m employable. Early on the rejection was tricky. Of course I get disappointed if I’ve worked and wanted something, but I’ve learnt how to deal with that in a healthy, positive way. Any of the challenges you face are often for the right reasons.

Q: Who or what inspires you?

There’s a few people I admire. Daniel Mays and Ben Whishaw as an actor. In terms of theatre music I love Benji BowerSally Cookson… I couldn’t start any process without looking for inspiration in all sorts of different places whether that’s writing, or art or music.  We’re blessed, currently content-wise.

Q: Do you love writing or love having written?

I like the writing [part of the process]. The thing I enjoy less is physically writing down. I’ll record something quickly with just me playing most of the instruments. Then half the time is me going back trying to work out what I meant and laboriously writing out music or vocal lines for the performers. It’s all a luxury to be able to do [all this] though.

Q: What keeps you coming back to The Garage and All-In Productions?

I enjoy the process. I enjoy working with people who are colleagues and friends. As an ambassador for The Garage I’m passionate about making sure it has support from people working in the industry and I’m happy to contribute to that. It’s the only time I’m on the other side of the table from being onstage and I like that challenge.

Q: Two shows over Christmas and New Year?

We were trying to be more bespoke in what we offer to multiple age groups. Operation: Save Santa’s music was quite synth-based. I was watching a lot of Stranger Things at the time. My First: Into The Snow Globe was for younger children so the music was very fun.

Q: Have you ever had an embarrassing or funny experience on stage?

I fell off the back of the stage in a version of Faust. I was meant to be suave and cool which is not something I particularly am, so was trying very hard. At one point in Wuthering Heights, the characters meant to be my children are played by puppets. I tried to give a puppet’s hand a high five but missed and slapped it in the face.

We have more than shows here. In case you missed it, our spring term of classes began today. You can find out more about those here.

If you’re considering a career in the creative arts like Lloyd, you can find out more about our HNC Programme in Performing Arts and our GCSE Dance and GCSE Drama courses here

Our friendly front of house team are happy to answer any questions. Give them a call on 01603 283382 or email info@thegarage.org.uk.

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