The Elephant Man | Meet Max

22 Jun 2018

Ahead of the The Elephant Man opening next week, we've been getting to know the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School students. Here, Max Dinnen talks us through his experience of working on Bernard Pomerance's award-winning play. 

Where are you from and how did you get into acting?

I’m originally from Fulham, South West London, and lived as far as Charlton before moving to Bristol. I was a fairly hyperactive child and my parents would sit me in front of films when they wanted peace and quiet. I then started drama at secondary school and it was immediately the only lesson that properly engaged me. Those two things combined made me want to be a film actor; the stage came only really once I started my training.

Who are you playing in The Elephant Man and what challenges have you faced in that role?

I’m playing Bishop Walsham How, and also have a brief scene as a Belgian Policeman. The role was originally written as an old man but Lee made it clear from the start that he didn’t want someone in their twenties “playing old”.

So the early challenges for me were about making the character make sense as someone of my age, using only what I’m given in the text. 

What research did you do whilst preparing for your role?

The first thing Lee asked us to do was watch the David Lynch film, and to look in to the London Hospital. I’d seen the film before, but watching it with the knowledge I was about to be a part of telling that story made it even more special. I also read ‘The True History of The Elephant Man’ by Michael Howell & Peter Ford, which was incredibly eye opening and painted the world and characters we were about to inhabit a lot more. 

What’s your favourite thing about training at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School?

The people. I think that’s the answer everyone gives but because we’re comparatively a smaller school it just becomes a little family. We spend so much time together and go through so much change that it just brings people closer together. Sometimes we joke around, sometimes we bicker, we’re just all siblings really. I can’t imagine ever being as in synch with a company as I am with my year group, we’re all telepathic by this point.

Are you excited to perform on the Bristol Old Vic stage?

I’m hugely excited! The theatre is a big name in the UK, and to be training at its affiliate school is a huge honour. So it’s a satisfyingly fitting end to our training to perform there. We’ve all spent two or three years watching some brilliant shows on that stage, and now it’s our turn!

The Elephant Man comes to Bristol Old Vic from 26 Jun – 7 Jul. Book your tickets here