A Day in the Life Adrian Hall  

Adrian Hall is co director at ALRA, the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. As part of his job, he tries his best to ensure the budding young actors he sees are absolutely sure it is what they want to do. And this from the man who starred in the iconic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film when he was eight! LESLEY FINLAY spoke to him about his working day…

At least half of my working life is spent on the road because part of my remit is to work on the outreach programme. This suits ALRA’s profile because of the kind of work we do and the kind of students we have.

I live just outside Staines in the week and go to my place in Wigan at the weekends so a typical day sees me getting in the car and driving to a college or school somewhere to talk to them about ALRA and do auditions. I don’t eat breakfast but will have about ten coffees before 9am!

I start the sessions with a talk to the first year A level or National Diploma students, telling them about drama schools, about our work, and what life is like in the business. My talk to the students is not sugar coated. I ask them to go away and think about what else they might like to do. That’s in my head the whole time – a seventeen-year-old going in to a career that is so precarious they have to know what that means. The students are a bit shell-shocked but I tell them that I will audition 1,600 people and I’ve only got 40 places. Are they sure this is what they want to do?

I will then do a workshop to give them a flavour of the kind of work they would do in the first year of our course. There’s quite a lot of physical acting and impro work at the workshops to get them out of the jazz hands thing and to look at a more focussed way of acting. Then I’ll have a very quick eleventh cup of coffee and will spend the rest of the day doing auditions with second years.

It’s easier for students to audition in their own back yard – they feel more relaxed, and more importantly, they haven’t had the trip out so it’s cheaper. They could spend £50 on a train fare then it’s £35 for the audition so for most kids you’re saying £100 for the day. Most audition for five or six schools – to get a better chance and a better mix – so it ends up very expensive.

I wouldn’t be here I am today if I hadn’t done Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I went to Saturday stage school and that’s how I got the part of Jeremy. My mum was happy for me to do it because it was a big adventure. There was no way I was going to want anything else after that.

I want kids to understand that the razzmatazz is such a small part of the lifestyle. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang set me up but I was lucky because my parents said that if I wanted to be an actor, I’d have to study as I couldn’t just rely on something that happened six years ago.
At the end of the working day, I try to get back home. To relax, I go diving. I do see some plays but for me it’s a busman’s holiday. My night-cap of choice would be an iced rum and coke!

A few of my favourite things

Book: Narrow Dog to Carcassonne by Terry Darlington about a guy who sails his narrowboat from Staffordshire to the Mediterranean.

Film: House of Games directed by David Mamet.

TV: I don’t watch a great deal but must see television would be Manchester United playing live.

Painting: It was painted for me by Ken McClymont, a theatre director, as a leaving present at my last school. He asked what inspires me and that’s the Anthony Gormley beach at Crosby. I showed him a photograph I had taken so he painted an oil of his impression of my impression! A real treat!