Walking past the numerous industrial units in a road on the outskirts of Bolton town centre, there is little clue to the talent which lies within one. Melanie Wallwork investigates.
HEADING up the red staircase of this unassuming building in Spa Road, you would never guess that upstairs lies a large training centre which attracts major industry players to share their expertise with would-be actors.
The Independent Centre for Actor Training was set up by Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) regular Simon Trinder, aged 36, from Horwich.
He first started the company eight years ago in London’s West End before moving back to Bolton with his wife Louise.
The centre’s advisers are Greg Doran, artistic director of the RSC, hailed as one of the great Shakespearians of his generation, and Mike Alfreds — Mr Trinder’s mentor, who was described by Sir Ian McKellen as one of the best directors in the country.
Mr Trinder, who lives in Barrow Bridge, said: “They lend their time to the course and help us shape the syllabus.
“There’s so much going on, I’m constantly here.
“I teach at night, three hours at a time or the afternoon as well.”
The centre runs a two-year course during which students learn skills in areas including voice, improvisation, Shakespeare, screen acting, as well as regular masterclasses.
Each year, it welcomes professionals such as Doctor Who and Casualty actress Adjoa Andoh; Ann Ogbomo, who appeared in Hollywood film World War Z; Jeannette Nelson, head of voice at the National Theatre; Casino Royale actor Joseph Millson and his actress wife Sarah-Jane Potts, best known for her role as Saint in Channel 4’s Sugar Rush, to share their expertise and prepare actors for the world of work.
Mr Trinder, whose television work includes Holby City and Dalziel and Pascoe, said: “We run masterclasses because the whole point is you are training with those who do it at a very high level.
“We have some incredible people coming to Bolton.”
Looking back on the highlights of his own career so far, he said: “There’s been loads. Probably acting with Judi Dench and Pete Postlethwaite.
“Standing in front of those two every night was quite something.
“I read an article with Steven Spielberg saying that the best actor in the world was Pete Postlethwaite and I was going on stage with him that night.
“I said, ‘do you know what Steven Spielberg said about you in an article this week? He reckons you’re the best actor in the world’.
“Pete said, ‘he must be drunk’!”
It was while at school, at Rivington and Blackrod High, that Mr Trinder discovered a passion for performing, appearing in plays with fellow pupils including Broadchurch actor Andrew Buchan and stage actor Alex Weaver.
Simon said: “I was rubbish at maths.
“I starting doing a bit of acting and got really passionate about it and just kept going.
“From being 16-years-old, in Horwich, I wanted to be in the RSC.”
He studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where he now goes back to teach, before getting work with the RSC, having been with the company for 11 years.
As well as acting work in London and Stratford, he would regularly perform in productions abroad before making the decision to return to Bolton and moved into the building last year after previously renting spaces including Bolton Little Theatre.
Mr Trinder said: “My wife Louise is based locally, she has a 12-year-old daughter, Jade. I decided that, these things are more important to me than work.
“I used to do 14 month contracts with the RSC.”
The pair also have a daughter Molly, aged one, and Mr Trinder says he loves spending his days teaching passionate and enthusiastic people, the youngest being nine and the oldest, 71.
He said: “I thoroughly enjoy being in a room with people that are passionate about it.
“It’s exciting, there’s lots going on.
“We are getting some great support from actors, directors, theatre companies, agents.”
As well as the youth theatre and over 50s classes, the centre also trains professional actors who want to keep developing themselves — a total of 70 adults and 20 youngsters climbing the red staircase every week.