“Start with the best intentions and let ideas evolve”
The actor, and Manager / Artistic Director of The Regal speaks about life on set and behind the stage.
Scott has a string of stage, film and TV credits to his name, and is currently filming on the American TV series Outlander (Season 2) that will be on our screens later this year. It sounds very glamorous: he's picked up by a driver and taken to the film location, escorted into his trailer where he is served breakfast and anything he needs is brought to him. Costume and make-up staff come to prepare him and he's escorted onto the set. “But it's not glamorous,” he explains, “actually you're just a cog in a wheel – you're picked up and waited on hand and foot so that the producers know exactly where you are at all times and you'll be ready when you're needed on set.” And he is conscious that if he messes up there is a long queue of actors behind him who fit the bill and he could simply be replaced. Such is the precariousness of earning a living as an actor. Scott has full time work as Artistic Director and Manager of the Regal, using his annual leave to do film and other acting work. But he got here the hard way; he spent years touring with his own theatre company, is aware of the high unemployment rates of actors and is passionate about improving prospects for young actors and getting people into theatres.
“I realised in my second year Acting and Performance course at City of Glasgow College that most of the students graduating ahead of me had no work to go to. So I set up my own theatre company so that at least myself and my class would have work. We'd make it for ourselves.” Scott called the company No Limit People (NLP) Theatre. He found the script for a show called “Singin' I'm No a Billy, He's a Tim” in the library, and the fledgling NLP picked this for their first production, performing in local pubs and the college. Then Scott managed to talk his way into larger venues including the Citizen's Theatre in Glasgow. He arranged a tour, and to cut a long story short they toured that show successfully for 5 years, at ever-larger venues. “It was a while before I realised other theatre companies had funding from bodies such as Creative Scotland, so they made money whether they sold tickets or not”. NLP however had no funding and had to rigorously market to get the audiences in. But it was very successful (“I made enough money to buy my mum a house, that was a good feeling”) and in the fifth year they booked the SECC in Glasgow – playing to 3000 people per night. They were much bigger-risk shows and it was a lot harder to make money. So why did they go for the bigger-risk venues? Scott looks bemused - “ We never did any of it for the money. That was a nice side-effect. As actors we just wanted bigger and bigger audiences!” Eventually the show's author removed Scott's rights to it, and Scott moved on to various film roles and other theatre shows.
Four years ago he was asked if he could help turn around the fortunes of the Regal Theatre. “I was willing to do whatever it took to make it work,” he says of his efforts here. Drawing on his experience as an actor, producer and marketeer, he has made it an act-friendly venue, and does everything in his power to get people into the theatre to experience a live show. “We use the theatre as a venue for all sort of events, and I hope that by coming here and getting familiar with the venue, people will realise it's a great place and with fantastic facilities, and be more inclined to come here for a show.” Initiatives he has promoted include the Regal Academy of Performing Arts, the Regal Film Academy, Tech School, Regal Radio and monthly comedy nights. He has many ideas for the way forward and utilises his contacts from within the entertainment industry to bring some big names to Bathgate.
“We have a great team of volunteers here. There's a willingness to pull together to make the theatre work,” he says. A local roofing company painted the theatre for free, many of the ushers are volunteers and the tech team, which started as a tech school that they paid to come to, now do all the tech work on a volunteer basis in return for the training they receive. “We start with the best of intentions and let ideas evolve. Bathgate's very friendly, folk will do each other a good turn,” observes Scott, and that's a big part of the theatre's success.
Scott has seen acting friends hit the “big time” and become famous, losing their anonymity. Is he ready for this to happens to him? “It's not where I want to go. If you've got a lucrative role that will keep you comfortable for years it might be worth it. But to do a short series or a single film that is so big you lose your anonymity for months or even years after it's over – that's not such a nice thought.” He was in the BAFTA-nominated film Kajaki in 2014 and has worked with some great directors and producers in recent times. But what he really wants is for you to go come along to the Regal, support the little theatre companies and the students he is training here, and most importantly, enjoy live theatre at a great local venue!
Scott attended The City of Glasgow College where he studied Acting and Performance (NQ, HNC, HND). During his studies he received a number of awards for his entrepreneurial skills.
2009 - The Enterprising Student Award 2009.
2008 - The Chris Hunter Memorial Cup for Outstanding Achievement 2008
2007 - The SQA Star Award 2007
After graduating from college Scott went on to establish NLP Theatre Company.
NLP’s first production “Singin I’m No A Billy, He’s a Tim” by Des Dillon was a critically acclaimed show ("Scottish Theatre's greatest success story of recent times." - Alan Chadwick - STV Entertainment) and a commercial success, grossing over £2 million at the box office.
Over 75% of the people who came to see the show had never been to the theatre before.
This was Scott`s aim to encourage hard to reach audiences to visit the theatre. Scott appeared in the production as Billy, and received the "Best Actor Award" at The Stage Awards for Acting Excellence in 2010 (Edinburgh Festival ).
In 2013 Scott formed the Regal Rep Company in association with NLP Theatre which presented a new piece of work “How To Make a Killing in Bollywood” at the Edinburgh Festival. It grossed over £20,000 in ticket sales at the Gilded Balloon, receiving excellent 4 and 5 star reviews.
Brilliantly choreographed and superbly acted" - Edinburgh Spotlight
"A promising insight into the future of Scottish theatre" - Three Weeks
"An excellent night`s entertainment and an insightful look into the lives of Asians in Scotland." - Broadway Baby
The show was selected by BBC Scotland, Radio 2 and BBC Asian Network as one of the “Highlights of the Fringe”, and the cast were invited to perform in the BBC events tent to an invitation only audience of 400. In 2014 this show continued to tour through the whole of the UK.
Whilst committed to The Regal Community Theatre as Artistic Director and Venue Manager on a full time basis, Scott is fortunate to have the support of the Trustees to work on occasional acting projects, and recently played the part of Cpl Stu Pearson in the feature film “Kajaki The True Story”.
This film was produced by Oscar winning producerGareth-Ellis Unwin (The King’s Speech) and Pukka Films.
Kajaki is a British War Film based on actual events during the Afghan War. It was released in cinemas on 28th November 2014, and received a BAFTA nomination for "Outstanding Debute by a British Writer, Director or Producer" at the 2015 BAFTAS.
“it may well be the best war film ever made…” - Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun
“Incredibly tense… it’s the British Hurt Locker” - Charles Gant in Heat
“A brilliant powerful, heart-stirring film” - Baz Bamigboye in Daily Mail
Scott`s latest acting role has seen him star in 6 episodes of American TV show Outlander.