As an actor have you ever felt unworthy? Do you wonder how you will ever stand out from the crowd? It was only when we figure out what we are truly good that we feel our self-worth. Come on in and hear David William Bryan’s journey to making one-person shows.
Did you start producing one-person shows as a way to take control of your career?
It was kind of a perfect storm. I had done the traditional acting thing. I had been able to crack everything I put my mind to previously in my life and I just couldn’t get traction. I didn’t know where I wanted to specialise either and in a hyper-congested market, you are going to lose if you don’t specialise. Those who specialise will always win.
About four years in, I got asked to do a one person play and the reaction I got from it was 100 times better than anything that I had ever done in my career and I just thought,
Holy shit! This is the thing! I feel completely at home.
My inability to willingly take direction and my below average ability to collaborate and all the things that have sort of held me back actually became a positive. I was there on my own, doing exactly what I wanted and the reaction was crazy and I was like,
I’m onto something.
The next year, I kind of delved into the business side of things. I learned a lot about marketing and how I could build a business around that and the last 18 months have taken off. Every theatre is booked and now I don’t do auditions. I don’t ever think about headshots and all that shit. I do a very profitable thing based on the thing that I do best.
It is just you. Do ever feel like you need to take a break?
I definitely get tired but I usually have most weekends. I spend time with my girlfriend as my weekends are for that. I may do a bit of work but otherwise I do Monday to Friday. It is the clarity of vision that gives me the advantage. Everyone else is sort of umming and ahing. They might think, “We should make this video.” and then a week later they haven’t made it.
What have you learned about yourself?
Self-awareness. It takes a while to figure yourself out and admit the things you are not great at. Even within acting, there are all these things that we want to be good at and we’re not. It was kind of disappointing to admit at first. I didn’t want it to be true. At most stuff, I’m okay but I am really really good at this one thing.
But actually, I thought if I specialise in this one thing, I will grow it so much that I will have huge leverage and monetary value. Because I sold out an entire Edinburgh run of my show, I can now go and do whatever I want and reach that level.
You can look someone like Mark Rylance who is an all-time theatre legend and he strolled into a blockbuster. It’s because he is Mark Rylance.
To me it’s about me doing what I love to do, which is one-person shows, building my business, building my leverage as a by-product of that. If, later down the line, I change my mind and I want to do a movie, it will be a hell of a lot easier if I hadn’t done that.
Tell me about gratitude.
Gratitude is everything. When you have everything you need, it’s so easy to give to others constantly. I am so unbelievably grateful to be in the position I am in. I have never been so happy and am in disbelief that I wake up in the morning and get to do this all day. I don’t know how I got so lucky. This is why I am passionate about helping anyone in anyway I can to do the same.
For me self-pity and entitlement were definitely there in the early years. The problem is you look at somebody on the West End and you think you can do that. It may be true but no one owes you it. Self-worth and entitlement are getting confused. You need to know that you are worthy of great things but no one owes you anything. This is one of the many problems in our industry at the moment. I don’t think people realise that all you need is a phone and you could be really fucking good at something. And it’s game over if you are willing to learn.
David, it has been an absolute pleasure getting to know you. Thanks again for stopping by! I can’t wait to hear how you get on with the rest of 2019. If you want to see David William Bryan in action, check out the tour details below!
See Fragility of Man at the Edinburgh Fringe, 31 July – 26 August, 2019 at The Pleasance. Book your tickets here.
See in ‘In Loyal Company’ on tour:
- May 3rd – Darwen Library Theatre – Blackburn
- May 4th – Rotherham Theatre – Rotherham
- May 11th – Corn Exchange – Wallingford
- May 17th – Cornerstone Arts Centre – Didcot
- June 7th and 8th – Swallow Theatre – Dumfries and Galloway – Scotland
- June 10th – New Wimbledon Theatre – London
- July 5th – The Stables Theatre – Hastings
- July 31st – August 26th – Pleasance – Edinburgh Fringe
- September 6th & 7th – East Riding Theatre – Hull
- September 18th – West End Centre – Aldershot
- October 4th – Red Rose Chain Theatre – Ipswich