From professional rugby player to falling in love with life, this week David William Bryan tells us how it all started and where he is headed.
You were a professional rugby player and then trained at the famous Stella Adler Studio in NYC. How did you go from rugby to acting?
When I was at school, you needed to play sports and I was good at rugby. Having played for Ireland at an international level, I then got signed to a professional club. Then a few months in the truth about that really hit me and I realised that I didn’t want to spend my life getting the shit kicked out of me for not very much money. I thought,
Well it’s now or never.
All my friends were ringing me from university going, “I’m hammered! It’s amazing!” and I was like, “I want to go do that!” So I went to Leeds Uni instead. Even then I didn’t go to the theatre the whole time I was there. It was only a few years after I left uni that I even considered doing acting. It was just on a complete random punt.
I also did a summer course at Stella Adler. I fell in love with it and went back and did the full-time course and I was there for three and a half years.
Which is more exhausting, playing rugby or doing one of your shows?
I used to get a hell of a lot of injuries playing rugby but I would say the show is a difficult, straight-up, hour long, physical work-out. You have more breaks in a game of rugby than you do when you are on stage on your own doing a physical show. There is definitely a trauma every time I do the show, whereas rugby stops when the ball goes out of play… and I don’t get injured as much.
Do you ever seek work?
I keep my eyes open. I know three shows in advance what I want to do. In Loyal Company is a true story about my Great-Uncle, Arthur Robinson, ‘Joe’. It came along at a time I was looking for a show. The next couple are very different again. I just see it as building a volume of work over time.
The people who end up being all-time greats, people like Shakespeare, Michael Jackson or Prince, the differentiating factor is volume. They churn out so much undeniable material that you have to look at them as an all-time great. That’s what I am aiming for as it produces prolific amounts of work. I have come from selling out 40 seat venues to regularly selling out 200 class seat venues and the progression is very tangible in the maths.
How do you balance ‘the producer’ and ‘the actor’ and ‘the person’?
It’s all me. I don’t get up and work. I get up and do what I do and I love every second of it. Obviously it’s hard and I get tired but I am just so grateful to get up and do what I love all day every day. I do the things that need to be done and document it on social media. It’s free and it fills my audience connection. It’s all very natural. I don’t feel I have to put on an act to please anyone.
If you want to learn more about David, stay tuned for part 3, David William Bryan: Lessons from The Fringe. You can also see him at Surviving Actors: London 2019 where he will be hosting a seminar on What To Do When Nobody Knows Who You Are on 9 February at 5pm. Book your tickets here.
See in ‘In Loyal Company’ on tour:
- March 1st – Saddleworth Live – Greater Manchester
- March 8th – Dorchester Arts – Dorchester
- March 16th – The Atkinson – Southport
- April 13th – Market Theatre – Ledbury
- April 27th – Everyman Theatre – Cheltenham
- May 11th – Corn Exchange – Wallingford
- June 7th and 8th – Swallow Theatre – Dumfries and Galloway – Scotland