Interview: Mateo Oxley
Tom Powell speaks to Mateo Oxley
by Tom Powell
Tuesday 26th June 2012, 17:15 BST
Mateo Oxley has performed in a large array of roles during his time in Cambridge; he was Oberon in this year’s Arts Theatre production of Misdsummer Night’s Dream, Tom Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, and acted in the ADC Panto: Treasure Island, and the Marlowe Society Showcase.
You’ve just graduated; what do you hope to do next?
Well, I’ll be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer in CUADC’s production of ‘As You Like It’ directed by Charlie Parham, which is really exciting. Then in September I’m off to drama school to train for a year at Arts Educational Schools London (ArtsEd) on the MA Acting course. It’s going to be pretty intense from what I can gather and a far-cry from the rural life I’m used to in the sleepy green fields of Norfolk, but I’m up for the challenge!
I guess I feel I’ve absorbed the opportunities here as much as possible and I’m ready to pack my suitcase, hurl myself into something new and see what happens.
What first drew you to theatre?
It all stems from my childhood, really (cue swelling string section).
I had a lot of confidence issues, not helped by the presence of a sickeningly talented older sister! I spent a considerable amount of time avoiding reality to be of my ability by gallivanting around the garden with my imaginary friend Phillipe, a thoroughbred horse. My Mum thought that am dram might help combat my shyness, channel my worryingly wild imagination or at least place me in an environment where the neighbours wouldn’t stare. I made my (terrifying) stage debut as a wind-swept bucket, dressed entirely in black for an ultra-violet twister scene in The Wizard of Oz. Since then I’ve continuously enjoyed three things in particular about being an actor ; the escapism available (being a bucket is surprisingly enjoyable), the opportunity to draw from your experiences in life and the ability to move people in one way or another. It fascinates and baffles me.
What was your proudest moment?
Mustering the courage to go on stage in a hot pink, skin-tight Flamingo costume for the ADC/Footlights Pantomime, perhaps? (Thanks, Harry Michell). The Cambridge Evening News mentioned me in their review as ‘strangely alluring’ and that still tickles me when I think about it. Definitely one for the family scrap book.
But I suppose I’m proud of the variety of productions I’ve done rather than a single moment in one. I wanted to try my hand at a bit of everything in order to become a more rounded performer. Almost every production I’ve been a part of has sparked controversy or divided people in some way which I‘ve found to be both exciting and disconcerting.
What advice would you give yourself if you could speak to your first-term self?
Easy on the gin, there‘s plenty of time! Other than that, my advice would be to audition for absolutely everything, not just the things you’re familiar or most comfortable with. Try not to take it too seriously, it’s easy to get swept up in the politics but the most important thing is your enjoyment rather than the approval of others.
What’s been your favourite part to play?
That’s a tough question. Fragments of every character I’ve ever played still exist within me and there hasn’t been one I haven’t enjoyed. I suppose it’s a toss up between Tom in The Glass Menagerie and Moritz in Spring Awakening. Probably, Moritz when I think about it. The combination of singing, acting and dancing was particularly challenging and really pushed me to my physical limits.
I’d liked to have been a bit braver and done more comedy. Not because I think I’m particularly funny, but because the buzz I got from the ADC / Footlights Pantomime and the sheer madness of Cymbeline this May Week was absolutely exhilarating. It’s a totally different way of acting that requires sensitivity to not just your fellow actors but the audience too. I really admire the Cambridge comedians that do it so well.
Are there any other ideas or memories you’d like to leave with us?
Memories? I don’t think I’ll ever forget falling through a crate onstage in Treasure Island much to the amusement of the audience or Rosa Robson’s spectacular face plant onto stage in the finale when we were supposed to be performing a synchronised cart-wheel! (Someone please put that on YouTube and watch it go viral).
But on a serious and slightly soppy note, I’d like to thank all the directors I’ve worked with previously for the opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to have. I’ve met some wonderful people through Cambridge theatre and it really just has been the most colourful, exciting and busy time of my life. We’re so fortunate to have the theatre scene we do in Cambridge, my only pearl of wisdom is that one really ought to take advantage of it whether you’re an aspiring actor looking to follow in the footsteps of some of the ADC greats or just up for something fun and extra-curricular. Go for it.