The very first time I was on a stage was actually when I was four! I grew up by the seaside in Lincolnshire and our tiny amateur dramatics club used to put on pantomimes in a church hall (tickets £1.50!) I was a fairy in a Little Red Riding Hood and had to point offstage and literally say ‘She went that way.’ Fast forward to secondary school when I bagged the lead part in Calamity Jane when I was 16. It clearly had a big effect on me. I recently found a very melodramatic teenage diary I kept at the time with Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the front… obviously. In it I wrote ‘If in the future I get to act as a job I think I will be the happiest person on earth. Nic
Lamont is the lead in dark horror comedy Egomaniac directed by Kate Shenton. The film is screening in London at Genesis Cinema June 20th, Deptford Cinema June 25th and The Castle Cinema June 28th. Nic is also currently performing in the UK Tour of theatre parody Graeme of Thrones.
— Nic Lamont (@Nic_Lamont) February 17, 2017
indieactivity: Did you study acting?
Nic: After school I went to the University of York to study English, Writing and Performance, but outside of the course I got involved in lots of societies. It was a very fun and creative time as you could try your hand at drama, film, panto, musicals, comedy… I even ended up going to the Edinburgh Fringe with theatre companies we formed at York. After York I knew I wanted to perform but I honestly didn’t know if I had the guts to make a career out of it. I decided to audition for drama schools and see which way fate would swing. Three days before the course started, the Royal Central Speech of School and Drama got in touch and said ‘There’s a place for you if you want it.’ I packed up, got on the train, left Lincolnshire and headed to London without anywhere to stay! Fortunately my good friend Rachel let me crash on her floor until I found a place of my own. I took this turn of events to be a sign – I’m here now, it’s time to work, study and learn as much as I can.
indieactivity: What acting technique do you use?
Nic: During my York Uni time, two companies I worked with introduced me to techniques that still influence my stage work today. Belt Up Theatre with clowning, LeCoq techniques and mask work and No Shoes Theatre with improvisation, particularly the Keith Johnstone theories. Both involved improv and audience interaction meaning I’ve never been scared to be without a script! Also they encourage child-like play (something that I will use quite literally later in my comedy double act).
indieactivity: What wrong impressions do actors hold about acting?
Nic: That it will be easy. There will be massive highs, but also massive lows. Sometimes you’ll be promised things that won’t materialize. It’s about getting used to that and not taking it personally. In the down times, when there just aren’t the right auditions out there, I’m a huge advocator for making your own work. Adam Rhys-Davies and I formed The Twins Macabre as we were both at a point where the work just wasn’t around. We made a 2 minute pilot sketch and sent it to BBC3’s Live at the Electric. The very next day they asked us to come in for a meeting and months later we were shooting for TV! It’s something we did entirely off our own back. Making it happen is so important.
indieactivity: Do you take courses to improve your craft?
Nic: It’s so important to keep working on skills. Improv workshops are brilliant and recently I’ve been taking them with Free Association in London. As I’ve been doing more screen work, I’ve been taking sight-reading/casting workshops with Zoe Nathenson. Screen is such a different beast. For Egomaniac I asked Kate Shenton (director) to spend a day working on what level to pitch my screen acting at (if you’ve mainly done stage work, the temptation is to go too big or too small). Kate was a great teacher and it was incredibly useful.
indieactivity: What acting books do you read?
Nic: ‘The Golden Rules of Acting’ by Andy Nyman is brilliantly truthful, realistic and optimistic about the industry. I’ve recently read ‘A Screen Acting Workshop’ by Mel Churcher, and a great improv book ‘Truth in Comedy’ by Halpern/Close/Johnson.
indieactivity: How do you keep fit as an actor?
Nic: I think it depends on what you’re working on. For Shock Treatment, the musical I did last year, I got into a great routine of physical and vocal warm ups everyday before the show. For film it’s a different kind of stamina – I think it’s important to truly switch off in breaks, and make sure you eat properly! I’ve found Yoga, and techniques of Mindfulness to be useful in focusing on the one job in hand and not have a million thoughts swimming about!
indieactivity: How do you prepare for a role when you get it?
Nic: I like to work out what things about the character I can relate to and what is nothing like me at all. Then I suppose the trick is making those alien quirks natural to you. I use a lot of improv in rehearsal as it forces you to make quick, bold decisions. Usually your first instincts are correct, or at least they provide something to build on.
indieactivity: How do you create a character from a script into a person?
Nic: Again, I think it’s different from project to project. For stage, I love finding a voice for a character first. I’ve always enjoyed doing accents and impressions. I make them big and silly first and then boil them down into something more truthful, something that becomes 50% the character and 50% me.
indieactivity: How do you stay fresh on set?
Nic: For Egomaniac, it was my first time filming something on this scale out of sequence. I created this huge timeline (sticking four bits of paper together!) and plotted the narrative and what emotional state Catherine was in at each point. That meant before each take, I could easily check what’s already happened and what she would be feeling.
indieactivity: Describe a memorable character you played?
Nic: I’ll never be free of Ivy Macabre (The Twins Macabre), she’s a monster I’ve created! There’s something so liberating about playing a 10-year-old bratty, know-it-all who is also a psychopathic killer! It’s a pleasure performing with Adam too, as we met working on improv and on stage we have a lot of trust and a lot of fun. Since performing on BBC3 and BBC Radio 4, we’ve taken shows to many festivals and are really excited to be taking two shows to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
indieactivity: Explain one creative choice you took on set?
Nic: Kate Shenton originally wrote Catherine in Egomaniac as quite a hard, almost unlikeable character. I knew the Catherine was meant to be a version of Kate herself, so I disagreed! Kate just isn’t like that. We had a chat about it and both decided that actually, the audience needs to see themselves in Catherine, to sympathize with her and feel for her when she has to make all these compromises.
indieactivity: What do you want most from a director?
Nic: I think someone who knows what they want and has a strong vision, but allows you to find your own way of fulfilling that. The best directors I’ve worked with make you feel safe, that you can try any crazy ideas until one sticks.
indieactivity: What actors do you long to work with?
Nic: Tough question! I’ve always adored Mark Gatiss. When I was fresh out of drama school, I used to think, when I ‘grow up’ I want to be a lady version of Mark Gatiss.
Nic: Obviously the horror comedy of the League of Gentleman has been a huge influence on me. I also respect that he is both a writer and actor and fully commits to both. I love the fact that he can play brilliant comedy characters, but also very truthful, naturalistic characters too.
indieactivity: What advice would you give to actors?
Nic: If the work’s not around, make it yourself! What have you got to lose?
There are no words. Apocalypse gear on. pic.twitter.com/ThYD4DgCE1
— Nic Lamont (@Nic_Lamont) June 24, 2016
Briefly write about your career
I played Tam, a murderous Eastend gal in ‘Best Pies in London’ by Abi Zakarian. It was a one woman play which was a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s bloody tale Titus Andronicus. I got to perform it in a genuine Pie and Mash shop in Hoxton as part of RIFT’s Shakespeare in Shoreditch.
I played Nation in the World Stage Premiere of ‘Shock Treatment’, sequel to the Rocky Horror Show. I’ve always been a fan of Rocky Horror and dreamed to play Magenta, so I was thrilled to create Nation for the stage as she was also originally played by Patricia Quinn. The Shocky/Rocky fans were such an incredible, supportive bunch – they made performing the show such fun! Meeting Richard O’Brien was also a huge highlight.