It’s a noble profession, acting. Strange, that, as the actor is always pretending to be someone else. But, the best actors, they inhabit a character and realise that the only way a part will ring true is if the artist can find any piece of themselves inside the role. In short, it’s about empathy, grace and perception. All qualities the man we’re chatting to this week possesses in abundance.
Scouser Daniel Taylor is the envy of many of his contemporaries right now – he’s working with Alan Bleasdale. “I will never forget this period as long as I’m breathing,” he tells us, talking about his role as Mickey in the legendary playwright’s ‘Down The Dock Road’, playing now at The Royal Court. “Alan is so down to earth, that he’d probably hate me to start waffling on about how brilliant he is… but, he’s a genius, that’s all I’m saying.” Agreed. So, let’s get cracking…
When did the acting bug first bite you?
Doing drama in school, really. I was always told I could be a top snooker player… but then I found out I needed glasses. Obviously, I was never going to be world champion, so I didn’t see the point of carrying on! Before I knew it, I was 16 with nowhere to go and ended up on a YTS doing stage management… until I realised I couldn’t go up tall-a-scopes (those big ladders that reach the lights) as I was scared of heights! The show-off in me won out in the end and, after a few years in local youth theatre and auditioning for drama schools, I finally got into one in London and was lucky enough to receive a grant… I could never have done the course without that.
How important is teaching drama to young people?
Hugely important, massively so. To teach young people the skills to communicate and to have confidence in whatever they’re doing is probably one of the most important things you can take through life. Drama gives that freedom and the ability to express the best of your ability and pass it on to others.
Here, here. You mentioned how vital a grant was for you: do we miss out on lots of talent that can’t find help?
You will never see some of the greatest acting talent on stage or screen, sadly. I know, because I’ve taken ‘Blood Brothers’ workshops all over the UK, whilst touring in that very same magnificent show, and they’re out there. It’s ironic, really… if you told Shakespeare that drama was for the elite, he’d probably have laughed, some of his greatest players were mechanicals. Drama is for everyone – whatever shape, size, colour or background. How else could we represent what goes on around us?
True. Let’s lighten the mood – tell us about ‘The Tommy Cooper Show’ you wrote and starred in…
There will never be another quite like Tommy Cooper: unique, brilliant and hilarious. We wanted to celebrate his memory in a respectful way and for what he meant to so many, so we took the show up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and have performed back in Liverpool, too.
It garnered great reviews didn’t it?
It did… but the best one was from The Tommy Cooper Estate and Appreciation Society: they gave us their blessing from the start. They came to see the show in Liverpool – when we first performed it to our mums, dads and mates – and loved how the team and I presented him. He’s my hero!
What about acting heroes?
My biggest heroes and influences are my mates! They were all very good actors, but had the sense not to see it through! There are many local actors who I’ve held aspirations of being as good as, but not many are still at it unfortunately. I’ve always watched movies with people like Eddie Murphy, Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro – those are the actors that brought me to acting.
Alan Bleasdale is another hero to us all, I guess. Did you ever imagine working with him?
Absolutely not! For a start, I’m happy to just have a job in a very precarious industry and one that I love so much. But to work so closely with a writer like Bleasdale, right through the rehearsal process, is something I will never forget. I’m a lucky lad, I know, but those who matter to me know how much I’ve put in to get here.
What are you enjoying the most playing your part in ‘Down The Dock Road’?
Alan Bleasdale, Alan Bleasdale, Alan Bleasdale! I feel like I’ve struck the jackpot as the play is local and it means I’m not on the road with ‘Blood Brothers’ for the first time in ages – meaning I get to spend precious time with my partner, Shazza, and my five year-old boy, Sonny.
It’s not an easy game to achieve success in, is it?
Ever since my YTS days, I’ve had a real passion for theatre. I’d work for pittance, doing whatever, as long as I was in a theatre environment… I’m either nuts or just incredibly passionate about the whole idea of putting a show on for people!
Tell us a bit about what else makes you tick, Daniel…
Sonny, my boy, and my partner in crime, Shazza! I’m a massive fan of all kinds of music and have been writing and singing songs since I was 10 or 11. My idea of a good night is sitting in with my dad, playing all the old vinyls (Glen Campbell, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra etc) and talking about the great Liverpool FC teams of years gone by. Life is simple for me: I love my family, my mates, people in general, footy and making music… in that order!
‘Down The Dock Road’
Until April 9th 2016
Royal Court, Roe Street, Liverpool
Pic by Brian Tarr