Curious as to what the alumni from ICTheatre are up to now? Look no further – I’ve been chatting with them to find out all the gossip for you! Up next on our Meet the Alumni series we have 2020 Graduate Liam Ireland, who is about to take the world of Greek TV by storm.
“Hello, my name is Liam Ireland, I’m an actor that currently lives in Greece – and a fun fact about me is that I’m very tall, so I’m very hard to push over.” I mean technically that is a fact yes, but maybe not what I was going for? Ah well, great start Liam…
As is currently a running theme with this series, Liam is one of the graduates I trained alongside for three years – and while we all went through a journey of self-discovery and learning, the change in Liam is potentially one of the most noticeable. He went from a tall scary Greek man who didn’t talk all that much, to a wonderfully open and kindhearted actor who puts up with all of our nonsense (although he is still very Greek. And a bit scary. And tall, as he made sure we knew with his fun fact.)
Thanks to the craziness that was 2020, Liam went back to Greece to be with his family when the Pandemic started to take full effect.
“It was never in the plan to come back to Greece; when Corona hit I didn’t have a clue what to do. So I came back to Crete to be with my family while England ‘sorted itself out’ so to speak. And during those first few months, all I did was read, try to learn the piano and guitar, practise my singing – it was a time for a lot of self-focus and learning. Lockdown was never quite as bad in Greece, so I got to go to Switzerland and Italy for a while in the summer, I got to enjoy time with my friends – got to enjoy life quite a lot and develop myself, but the only thing that was missing was finding work.”
As someone who hasn’t left the country in over two years, I am very jealous of darling Liam…
It turns out Liam didn’t have to worry too much about the lack of work; it wasn’t long until his fortunes changed for the better.
“One day I received a message on Instagram from one of the biggest directors in Greece, Andreas Georgiou. He tells me we have people in common, and he’s considering me to play one of the lead roles in his new show.”
“I do my research, find out that he’s had many successful shows in Greece, and so I start to get a little bit excited – but play it cool obviously. We have a video call, he tells me about the part and the show, and from there he sends me a script so I can submit an audition tape. From that tape he sent me a message of directions, to see how I respond to change and being directed by him – and after that, I got the job!”
A big round of applause for Liam Ireland! He’s going to be a Greek celebrity in no time. Of course, the show is all in Greek – so unless someone jumps on Google translate, I’m not going to be able to watch it for a while – but the title roughly translates to ‘The Land of Olive’.
The story focuses on a family that sells Olive Oil, and Liam is the boyfriend of the daughter in this family. Like any good TV show, there’s drama and vendettas and romance – all the juicy stuff.
I had to ask what the experience has been like working on a full-time TV show.
“Listen, any job I have after this one will be so easy! There’s a lot to get used to when you start working on a full-time programme; for one, you can’t really find a routine in your life. Say you want to go to the gym at a set time every day? Yeah, that’s probably not going to happen. We only find out our shoot times the day before we film”
“as a lead role, I’ll usually be on set for 12 hours a day.”
“then I have to get home and make sure I know my lines for the next day – so it’s a very busy schedule to keep on top of. But it’s all worth it because it’s such a beautiful challenge.”
“For example, let’s say you have your schedule to shoot at a specific location, and on that day you might have to shoot 25 scenes. But four of those scenes might be from one episode, and two from another, and so on. So it can be a real struggle keeping on top of the continuity and your character development, and making sure everything makes sense. But as I said, it’s a beautiful challenge and a brilliant place to start. I’ve been thrown in at the deep end, so it’s teaching me a lot of discipline and I’m learning a lot.”
Sounds like a lot of fun! The programme was released in September and you can watch trailers over on the channel’s Facebook page.
I asked Liam his favourite part of the job.
“The crew and everyone involved working on this programme are magnificent. They’re so organised and helpful, and we have become one big happy family. We have fun and get on well, but also know when to focus and get the job done – which is something Gary Sefton always taught us while training, so it’s something I value very highly.”
I think Liam is living the dream – I’ll have to head to Greece for a visit (when he’s not busy with those 12-hour workdays of course). I couldn’t chat with Liam without asking him about his time at ICTheatre, starting with his favourite part of training.
“You know when someone goes to school, and they don’t like it and they don’t want to get out of bed in the morning? Well, sometimes I felt that a bit – but walking into the studios and being surrounded by wonderful tutors and classmates made getting out of bed worth it.”
“ICTheatre was a lovely environment to train in, and that made all the difference. It’s something I still miss – the training and the structure and the people have helped me be the actor I am now.”
On the flip side, we talked about something Liam struggled with (being Greek surrounded by English people didn’t count…)
“At some point, I think during my second year of training, I really started to lose motivation. I wasn’t in the best place mentally and anything ‘negative’ that happened I blamed on everyone else, without taking responsibility for my actions. It’s very easy to blame others, but it’s very hard to blame yourself, to figure out what’s going on.”
“Our acting tutor Gary Sefton was the one to help me get over that hurdle – although I only fully realised the lessons he was teaching me after we left. So those lessons, however late they may have kicked in, helped me overcome that place and get back to being the best actor I could.”
So if you haven’t realised by now, Liam is half Greek, and he moved from Crete to Brighton to study at ICTheatre in 2017. I asked him what the moving experience was like.
“It was a very different environment to come into. I’ve been surrounded by actors and artists in general ever since I was 16, so I knew the drill. But when I entered ICTheatre, it was just a very happy environment and I didn’t really know how to handle it.”
“I was never a really open human being – I never had a problem walking up to somebody and talking to them, but when it came to a crowd I preferred keeping to myself. So ICTheatre helped me with opening up in a way I hadn’t before.”
We had to end the interview with the most important questions; Liam’s advice for surviving drama school, and graduate life.
“My main advice is to focus on yourself – there’s no point being bothered by other people and their journey. Focus on yourself so you can improve yourself every day.”
“The only person you should be in competition with is the person you were yesterday. To survive graduate life, I think so long as you always have your goal in mind, you’ll always get there, even if things sidetrack you along the way. You may have to do other jobs so you can survive as an ‘adult’, but keeping that goal in mind will always lead you in the right direction eventually.”
Very wise words from a wise human being.
That concludes another Alumni interview! A massive congratulations to Liam for his amazing work over in Greece – I know we’re all very proud. You can keep up with Liam and his antics over on his Instagram @_liamireland.
Feeling inspired by Liam’s story? Check out our upcoming open days here and get ready to join the #ICTheatreMovement.
Author: Charley Morgan, ICTheatre Graduate 2020