Alex Chorley. Photo: WinkiPoP Media
Alex Chorley, winner of the 2018 Sydney Eisteddfod Actor's Championship (15-18 years), has been performing in Sydney Eisteddfod events for 12 years in both Speech and Drama as well as Classical Singing categories. Alongside his many Sydney Eisteddfod victories, this year Alex has also been nominated for both HSC drama showcase 'Onstage' and music showcase 'Encore'.
Despite his youth, Alex is a Sydney Eisteddfod veteran, who reflects on his experiences up until this point in time and the direction he is heading in.
Has your outlook as an actor changed over time? In what ways?
I’ve been entering eisteddfods now for 12 years, so my outlook as changed quite drastically I think! I used to concentrate so much on each movement and facial expression, but now I just see what comes naturally and take it from there. I also try not to take eisteddfods or any performance too seriously – yes, you can learn from the experience, but it’s best not to dwell on it if it doesn’t go to plan. As long as the audience enjoys what I do then I’m happy, because that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. I’ve learned it’s not worth worrying about – just get up on stage and have fun – that’s the main thing!
Have your acting techniques, preparation methods or acting style changed over time?
I tend to let a monologue develop over time and see where it takes me rather than finalising how it will play out in the early stages. I first performed my Hamlet monologue (one of my championship pieces) last year but it’s quite different now and it’s been interesting to see how the piece has grown. I also have a much better understanding of character now than when I was 13 or 14, so I can dig deeper to inform my performance. There tends to be a bit of me in everything I do too – I just hope people like it! Another thing I’ve learned over the years, when selecting a piece for eisteddfod, is to pick characters around my own age that I can actually relate to. This year I performed a monologue from ‘Five Finger Exercise’ by Peter Shaffer, playing Clive, a nineteen-year-old student, upset over his father’s lack of understanding as he seeks his own direction in life – a common problem for many teenagers I think!
Do you still sing or pursue any other talents in addition to acting at the moment?
Absolutely – singing and acting are both equally important to me (I have diplomas in both) and I would like to pursue both to the highest level I can. I took part in the all the 17-20 classical singing sections at Sydney Eisteddfod this year and came away with a few medals, which I was really pleased about, as I’m only 17, but I’m still working hard on producing a good baritone sound. I recently went on a music tour of the UK with my school (St. Andrew’s Cathedral School) where I had the amazing opportunity to sing in front of Prince William and Prince Harry at the Westminster Abbey ANZAC Day Service. I also sing in several school choirs, played a lead role in my school musical and give solo recitals from time to time, so singing is just as much a part of my life as acting! Aside from performing, I’m also a keen filmmaker (I have plans to direct my first feature film next year), as well as writing experimental contemporary music, so I’m pretty busy most of the time!
What are your plans next?
After the HSC I’m hoping to do a Bachelor of Music Performance in singing at the Sydney Conservatory while also keeping my acting (and even maybe a bit of dancing!) going on the side. I might study acting full-time one day, but I’d like to spend some time being a music student first and working on my singing before I consider a full-time acting course. I also think I need to get some life experience, so I have more to draw on when I play different characters; I’m still only a school kid, so not that much has happened to me yet! That said, you never know what might come along and I’m always looking for the next opportunity, so watch this space!
Have your career goals changed?
I’ve been thinking about studying acting in the UK if I can (I was born there), as I’d love to be immersed in the London theatre scene, but NIDA is a fantastic institution, so it’s a difficult decision to make. At the end of the day it’s really hard to get into drama school anywhere, so I doubt I will have the choice! Ultimately I’d like to combine my acting and singing in some way; as an opera singer, but also in musical theatre, plays, films - whatever comes my way - as you never know what opportunities might be on the horizon. I really admire versatile performers like Mitchel Butel and Anthony Warlow, who work across a variety of different genres and hope I can be half as good as either of them one day. I love comic roles and have been told I have great comic timing (I played Basil Fawlty in my school play last year which was hilarious) but I’m happy to give anything a go!
What keeps you focused as an actor?
Variety - every performance is different - even if you have rehearsed it down to a tee. I love the fact that you can get up on stage every night and perform the same show, but never really know what might happen or how the audience will react. Ultimately, it’s the audience who make or break a performance and it’s their feedback, along with that of my parents, singing teacher, Tim Collins, drama teacher, Judith Burgess and the many adjudicators I have performed for over the years, who keep me focused on the job!