Mark Philip Compton

Award Winning actor Mark Philip Compton has been acting for over 15 years.  He won the 2002 Best Actor & 2004 Best Supporting Actor Award at the Working Drama Festival for his roles of  "Arnold" in "Torch Song Trilogy" &  "Tom/Phyllis" in A.R. Gurney's "Sylvia", respectively.  To rave reviews, Mark recently finished playing "Carlos" in  "The Woodsman" at London's Old Red Lion Theatre.  Starting August 7, catch Mark at the 2009 Edinburgh Fringe Festival starring in a new play "Hayton on Homicide", but first catch the previews in London July 21, & 22 at the Tristan Bates Theatre and July 23 & 24 at ADC Cambridge.  For tickets and showtimes visit: http://www.haytononhomicide.co.uk/tickets.html

2. When did you realize you wanted to become a performer? I realized I wanted to be a performer at a very early age 3 or 4 - I remember being at my grandmother's house and getting her to sit and watch while I would pretend to be the circus ringmaster with the various clowns, acrobats, lion tamers etc and introduce and then be the act as well.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? Who inspired me is difficult - partly the reason I have answered question 2 first is because the when is easier. I am not sure any one person inspired me when I was so young - certainly being taken to see a circus was an influence. However as I have got older I find I am influenced every time I go to the theatre - watching Kenneth Branagh recently in 'Ivanov' in London was mesmerising; seeing Nathan Lane in 'The Producers' and watching him play an audience and know how to win them over; Ian McKellen playing Widow Twankey (a pantomime dame) in 'Aladdin' and seeing an actor just have enormous fun and bringing great joy to an audience; Dame Judi Dench in anything she does; Glenn Close in 'Sunset Boulevard' and more recently in 'Damages'; Kevin Spacey in 'The Usual Suspects' - these are all among the many people I watch who influence me to be the best I can be as an actor - however this is just a small part of a very long list of great performances I have seen which influence me. I find watching actors tackle role - especially on stage - that are a challenge to them and also challenge an audiences perception of them as actors a great influence - I know it is one of the reason I became an actor to push those personal boundaries and those of the people who watch me.

3. What advice would you give yourself at age 16? My advice to myself at 16 would have been do not let anyone tell you that you cannot follow your dreams - a number of family, friends and teachers all said I should not go to drama school, become an actor because it is a precarious life. Maybe they were right and I was not mentally and emotionally ready to pursue this career at 16 which is why I did not complete my post grad until I was 30. But I would still tell myself to follow your heart and your dreams and if it does not work at least you gave it a go. You do not want to get to old age having not followed a dream and regretted it - always take the chances and opportunities and never regret anything.

4. What has been your best and worst experience in a show? The worst experience on a show is having another cast member tell me I am incompetent and that I am a disgrace to acting - that is hard. Going through that kind of reaction from a fellow actor especially at the end of what I considered a successful first run and then having to transfer the play with the same company is hard. However looking back I think that there was a fear in the other actor and a lack of trust in their own ability and strength as well as a lack of trust in the other members of the company whereas I wrongly or rightly will trust the people around me in a production to support me and get me out of a problem on stage in the same way that I would if they were in trouble. As they say what does not defeat us makes us stronger.

As for the best experiences - there are so many - the first play I did at school playing Jack in 'The Importance of Being Earnest' and having so much fun that I wanted to go and repeat the performance with the rest of the cast straight away. Playing Arnold in 'Torch Song Trilogy' a play which was very close to me because I was not out at the time and there was a sense that I was bearing my soul and pouring my heart out on stage especially during the final part of the play knowing my mother was in the audience and the conversation I was having on stage was the one I wanted to be able to have with her. Then winning a best actor award for the role just made it even better. Taking a show abroad for the first time to Toronto in 2008 and playing to audiences who have no idea who you are because you are still early in your career and getting great reactions. Having an opportunity as an actor to explore and challenge people - currently appearing in 'The Woodsman' by Steven Fechter (April 2009) and spending hours talking to people about the themes of the play even though they are very dark and it is very much a taboo subject. These are just some of the best experiences.

5. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? I don't believe I have any strange or unusual talents hidden away. I am reasonably fearless as a performer and have done to myself just about anything a director has asked - gained weight, lost weight, grown and cut hair, performed naked etc - but I don't think I have any unusual talent - however I am still waiting to see - so who knows...

6. Books or Magazines? Books - no question about this at all. Growing up we did not have a TV at home (my parents did not get one until I was about 23 and had left university and was living abroad) so as a child the house was filled with books and my flat still is. I read avidly and will always have a book with me. I read anything that seems to interest me from historical to action, fantasy to biography and everything in between - I can spend hours in a bookshop and will willing accept any recommendations for something to read from anyone who wants to suggest.

7. Favorite kind of sundae (ice cream flavor & toppings)? I am not a huge fan of sundae's - I had a dairy allergy being lactose intolerant as a child so these were always banned - however am partial to a good sorbet - lemon, mango or fruits of the forest my favorite.

8. Animal Crackers or Oreos? Again do not really have a sweet tooth and we historically have had neither Animal Crackers or Oreos in the UK although Oreos are now available to buy. So just from experience if I had to choose one it would be Oreos.

9. Superman or Wonder Woman? I have to say Superman - never got into Wonder Woman as a child and then we have had Bryan Singer's movie which has bought Superman back to the forefront of peoples consciousness. I think for me it was the ability to fly - something I would want to do if I had a superpower - the ability to fly wherever I wanted - WOW!

10. Boxers or Briefs? Boxers for me - not that I have anything against briefs but I just prefer the look and cut of boxers - specifically hipster style boxers (and also hipster speedo's as well).

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Jared Gertner

Jason Dottley