Artist of The Month- February- Phillip Smith

Our Artist of the Month is Phillip Smith. Recently seen in "A Christmas Carol"  (Sweet & Sour Productions) and "The Wizard of Oz" (Aftec), Phillip will be playing the role of Oliver in the next Aurora Theatre's production, The Pride

Originally from Wales and relatively new to Hong Kong, the young actor tells us more about his background and his upcoming project. 



1. Name, birthplace, age. 

My full name is Phillip Henry Thomas Smith, I was born in the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales. I’m 27 years old. 


2. How does where you were raised affect your work?

Every now and again someone mentions to me that the Welsh have a strong reputation for performing and the arts in general and that does seem to ring true for me. My secondary school, Treorchy Comprehensive School has a strong ethos around performance. Participation in music and theatre were are taken seriously so without their support I can’t say my interest would have been very well nurtured. We had an annual school musical and productions throughout the academic year. In particular it was my drama teacher, Beverley Roblin, who really gave me the push I needed. Because of her guidance, I got opportunities and challenges that left a lasting effect on me. If it wasn’t for where I was raised, I can’t say I would be performing now. 



3. Where did you train?

Training has only seriously begun for me in Hong Kong and it’s ongoing. I would like to pursue an MA in acting in future, but for now, I enjoy learning from actors who are more experienced than me and taking as many classes as I can. My academic background is in Psychology, I suppose from time to time that provides a basis for understanding a character. 




4. What is your favourite style of theatre? Why?

Naturalism resonates with me most. To me, the most important aspect of performance is that it looks and feels real. I love watching people who can do that, and that’s the performer I want to be.  


5. What was the best show you EVER saw?

When I was twelve my mother took me to see the Oxford University Dramatic Society’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest. It was an outdoor production and the school grounds were beautiful, I can remember the sun was beginning to set as the play came to an end. That production left a lasting effect on me. Twelve-year-old me kept up with the story and laughed a lot. 



6. What was the best show in HK you EVER saw?

A dramatic interpretation of the poem Howl by Allen Ginsberg. It was directed by Welsh director Ceri Sherlock, and performed by the final year students of HKAPA. The performance was very abstract and provocative, I was amazed at their willingness to be so vulnerable. The theatre in the round staging allowed for some interaction between the actors and the audience, so it was fascinating to watch and be part of. I enjoy performances that make me think about how I can be a much better actor. It would also be unfair not to mention that I recently enjoyed Sweet ‘N Sour Production’s Hong Kong Love Stories. I laughed and laughed! 


7. What piece of work are you the proudest?

It was a long time ago but getting the role of Marius in Les Miserable was a turning point for me. We were a big cast between cast aged fifteen and eighteen and many of us had felt a shift towards really understanding and feeling what it is like to be a performer.



8. What is your process like?

I’m still trying to craft a process. It’s basic, but what I have learned recently is that decisions and certainty are paramount. So I start with that. 


9. What is your dream project?

That’s a great question. It’s a cliché but this month we’re doing The Pride and I couldn’t have asked for a greater opportunity. I had read for the part of Oliver some months ago. So for the production to come up, to have the opportunity to audition and then to get the role – it blew my mind. But okay, a “dream” dream production would be something dark like Harold Pinter’s Betrayal. 


10. What do you think about the arts and theatre scene in Hong Kong?

I’m a newbie, so to come here and find that there’s actually an art scene and you have so many opportunities to be part of it feels like something very special to me.  




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