Rising screen and stage star Ben Prout

Rising star Ben Prout is thrilled to be playing Finn in this year’s Boxford Masques. Ben lives near Hungerford and was talent-spotted from a school play at Park House a few years ago and has gone on to appear in the Netflix Bridgerton series and at the Tabard Theatre in London.

We grabbed Ben for a few minutes between rehearsals to ask about Boxford Masques and his recent acting experiences.

“I love stories and the local history of our area, so when a few members of the community explained the concept of ‘The River and The Bell’ to me I was completely hooked! Rehearsals are going brilliantly, and I cannot wait to be on stage with the rest of the wonderful Boxford Masques cast at the end of the month (grab your tickets for 26 – 30 July here!). It’s also a great opportunity to work with director Ade Morris from the Watermill Theatre.

My career started in January 2020, when I was in Year 12 at Park House and performed in a school production of ‘Grease’ at Arlington Arts. After one performance a lovely woman introduced herself to me in the foyer. This lady turned out to be Jenny Henwood, a wonderful and extremely hard working talent agent who runs a Pinewood based acting agency called Spotted Talent Management. After a short conversation we parted ways, until around a week later, to my shock, I, and a couple of other members of the cast received contracts to join the agency!

None of us expected something like this to happen but my parents were completely supportive. I was in Year 12 and concerned about the impact of lockdown on my studies.I was soon asked to audition for some roles and because of lockdown I had to do them remotely. This meant I had to get to grips with ‘Self Tapes’ which are now the norm for auditioning. The way it works is that you receive details of the job and character including personality and/or appearance as well as the script or sometimes they want you to improvise. You then have to record yourself at home often with a family member or friend reading another part off camera for you to react to. If the casting team like what you’ve sent they may ask for a second tape ( a recall) or even to meet you in person at an audition space.

In December of 2020, during my final year of sixth form, I got my first role in an advert for Oatly, selling their brand of oat milk. Having never really been on camera before, it was slightly daunting! We started out on a set where make-up and costume were based and then moved on location to a house in North London where I had to sit at a kitchen table and tell my ‘dad’ off for buying the wrong kind of milk. Luckily the director was very friendly but the shoot was very quick so I didn’t get a lot of time to talk to him.

After that, in the spring of 2021, I had the immense honour of being cast in Netflix’s ‘Bridgerton’ as the Marquis of Ashdown in Season 2 Episode 1 and I’m very grateful to have been involved and to Spotted Talent Management for the opportunity. It meant spending a few days (and nights) shooting in London over two months, and keeping a very big secret for nearly a year! It was my first time on a large scale professional set, it was all completely new to me. When I arrived I was shown around the studio which was a mix of greenscreen and physical set. The main cast were incredibly lovely and welcoming. Most of my time was spent on a two day night shoot through the evening and into the early morning so I wouldn’t have blamed them for being a bit tired and preoccupied. But they were all interested in who I was the and friendliness of the cast and crew will always stay with me. I spent nearly an hour in make-up, mainly cutting and styling my hair. This was something they too a lot of care in, as evidenced by their Emmy in hairstyling.

Once A levels had finished, in August of 2021 I went on to get a small part in that year’s Coca Cola Christmas advert, which was filmed in Budapest in September (picture attached). This was my first time shooting abroad, and travelling alone! The advert was then reissued for Coca Cola’s Christmas campaign the following year. To round 2021 off, in November I was cast in a bigger role in an advert for AutoTrader, where I can be seen kissing and embracing a rather fancy new car – great fun!

Around this time I began working with Jenny in person, as she set up the Children’s TV and Film School, based in Shinfield – not far from where the new Shinfield studios are being constructed. In the school I tutored entry level and grade 1 LAMDA for youngsters in the agency and from the surrounding area, while they also took classes from Jenny and external professionals in Film techniques; something that wasn’t accessible to me as a child and indeed is still very new as a concept. I didn’t have any prior acting experience so it was daunting at first but I take pride in the fact that all the kids I tutored passed their exames. It’s opened the door for me to try one to one tutoring and workshops in other fields.

In October 2022, the agency produced its first short film, ‘The Halloween Detectives’, filmed in a week at Reading Blue Coat school, which involved a number of the children from the agency and the film school alike. It was shot by horror director James Crow, and assisted by a number of film students from Reading University. I played the kids’ teacher, and the film was submitted to a number of festivals – including the Cannes World Film Festival in which it won the award for best ensemble cast!

During that time, I was auditioning for my first professional play, ‘Five Children and It’ at the Tabard Theatre in Chiswick, which I was cast in that November. I played the cheeky and rather grumpy middle child, Robert. This saw me making a short move to London over the intense rehearsal and performance period, which was wonderful and reignited my love for theatre. (Cast photo attached) The acting experience in theatre is so different to film it’s hard to compare them. Having a live audience gives your performance on stage a definite adrenaline rush and it can be wonderful bouncing off the audience if the script permits. In film things are still very fast paced despite what some may think, even though you can afford to get things wrong and re-take it’s not an excuse to turn up without knowing your lines. If can be really handy to have the director just a few feet away to give you direction on the fly whereas in theatre you have to have made adjustments in rehearsal or wait for notes after the show.

I have a deep love for local theatre which started with my time with Newbury Youth Theatre which I recommed to any teenager trying to develop their acting. I was part of the company for two and a half years and I have equally fond memories of our productions at the Edinburgh Fringe as I do of my professional work since.”

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Email
Print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up to the free weekly

Penny Post
e-newsletter 

 

For: local positive news, events, jobs, recipes, special offers, recommendations & more.

Covering: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage, Lambourn, Compton, Swindon & Theale