Interview: George Potts
Graduating Footlight George Potts talks to Tom Powell about acting, getting into comedy and the perils of bad stout
by Tom Powell
Friday 22nd June 2012, 03:26 BST
George Potts is a graduating Footlight. During his time in Cambridge he’s played Long John Silver in this year’s panto, acted in Scrooge and Marley, written for PICK ME UP and acted in numerous other comedies and dramas.
You’ve just graduated and are going on the Footlights International Tour Show - what do you hope to do after that?
I’m hopefully going to try and work that out when I’m away on tour (which I’m ludicrously excited about). I’ve got as far as sorting out that I might be living in Tooting, which sounds marvelous. I don’t know London very well, but the word ‘Tooting’ makes me smile, so it’ll probably be great.
What first drew you to theatre, and to comedy in particular?
I did lots of plays at school, which I always loved doing, but when I first came here I told myself I’d pack up the acting lark and become a bit of a serious academic. But I did Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic, which was occasionally fascinating, mostly baffling, and either way I wasn’t very good at it. Then I realised that doing plays meant more to me than just having a whale of a time, and it all sort of snowballed from there. I think the focus on comedy was born out of people chuckling at the parts I played on stage in general, even when I was meant to be terribly serious. In the end I just gave in and put the silly faces and voices on full throttle whenever I could.
What was your proudest moment in Cambridge theatre?
It’s difficult to pick an exact moment, because I’ve been lucky enough to be part of so many fantastic shows, but the proudest moments have always been achieving something excellent and magical through your own creations; in particular, devised pieces like Babushka or The Red Shoes were incredible to put together and perform, especially since so little devised theatre gets put on in Cambridge, and it’s a real chance to stretch yourself as an actor. Putting together Scrooge & Marley as a two-man show with the ever-excellent James Swanton was also something I’m extremely proud of; doing a favourite story from childhood as a crazed cabaret with one of your absolute best friends in the galaxy is amazing fun.
What advice would you give yourself if you could speak to your first-term, fresher self?
‘Some people will tell you, young, speccy, pipe-cleaner fresher, that because you enjoy acting and doing plays, you are doomed to be a flouncy prat, and are a flake. Listen to them, a bit, so you don’t become a flouncy prat or a flake. But take heart! They will eventually turn out to be the biggest shower of rotters you know. So do what makes you happy. But again, don’t be a prat.’
What’s been your favourite part to play?
Without a doubt, Long John Silver, the villain in the Footlights Pantomime. It was unremittingly incredible to perform that character and do that show. 4-year-old me would be thrilled to know that eventually he would get to play a terrifying, singing pirate captain in a hilarious comedy.
Perhaps only that I didn’t try harder, sooner. I was too shy and retiring to start with, and the only thing that came of that was that I never did any plays, which was rubbish. You’ve got to be brave and get stuck in here I think.
An ideas or memories you’d like to leave us with?
My mate Graham throwing up in the middle of the ADC Bar after he’d drunk too much putrid stout. Just goes to show, no matter how many incredible acting experiences you have in that place, and you grow and develop and hone a skill ready to try and take out into the real world and have a go at living a crazy dream, all of this is still inadequate equipment to remove a Yorkshireman’s vomit from a carpet.