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Up, up and away!

An interview with Lewis Barnshaw

Lewis was born in June 1984 and attended Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. He was also in the fourth Harry Potter movie.

Where do you live?

In a flat in Greenwich (SE London).

What did you study at Italia Conti?

I was on the three year performing arts diploma course, but I originally started on the one year singing course there.

How did you find out about the school?

I knew there was an Italia Conti associate school in my home town of Plymouth (and I had private singing lessons from one of the tutors there, Brian Gerry) but found out about the main London school through reading THE STAGE.

Where did you live before you came to London, and when and how did you first get involved in performing?

I was born and bred in Plymouth, Devon (yes, the place where everyone sounds like a farmer!). I started performing at the age of 11. I was always parading around the house or the streets in some sort of theatrical costume I had managed to botch up in my room - well, we all have to start somewhere! I went to an audition when I had just turned 11 for 'Oliver!'. I was so scared. I sang my song, did some script reading, and got the part of one of Fagin's Boys.

Did you do drama GCSE at school?

Yes I did a GCSE in Drama and I got an A in my exams. This was vital for me really because it opened alot of doors for me. It made me realise performing is what I wanted to do. I did many school productions and concerts, it might not seem very big but everything helps and gives you that extra bit of experience.

Can you tell us a little about your audition process for Italia Conti?

For my audition I had to come up to London from Plymouth. I auditioned for the singng course originally and when I auditioned for that I had to sing 3 contrasting songs eg: ballad, pop, musical theatre. When I auditioned for the 3 yr Performing Arts course I had to do 2 acting pieces, 1 song and 3 dances and some sight reading!

What did a day at Italia Conti involve?

I got up at 7.30am and left about 8.15am. I used to take public transport to the school, but now started cycling the six miles from Greenwich to the Barbican - it was cheaper, and I needed to keep the fitness up. I started lessons at 9.15 and were five every day, each one and a half hours with 15 minutes to prepare for the next class. They included voice work, acting, physical theatre, improvisation, singing, choir, ballet, tap, jazz, stage fighting, and fitness. My favourite was singing, with teachers Roy Gregory and Jack Abrahams. From Monday to Thursday I was at school for an average of nine hours a day, and on Fridays, about six.

How did you get picked for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban?

It all started in October 2003 when the film's casting directors came to Italia Conti. They took students' pictures and measurements and had a brief chat with us - it was all very quick. Two months later, I got a call from my agency saying I had been picked to appear as an extra. I admit I was very excited! We started filming in March 2004 and after a month, I had an audition for a character in the Quidditch Match. My photo and measurements were taken again, and I had a cyberscan where a computer takes images of you so that you can be 'animated' into a Quidditch Player (so when you see someone fly off a broom and crash to the ground, they're not actually hurt!)

What part did you play?

I played a character called Michael McManus who's a beater in the Hufflepuff Quidditch team.

What was a day on set like?

Well, I would be picked up from home in a car at about 6.30am and taken to the studios. Some cars had a Playstation and a dvd player but most of the time I'd be too tired to play anyway. When I got to the studios, I'd drop off my bags in my trailer; it was amazing - it had a sofa which folded out into a bed, a stereo, shower and toilet, fridge, oh, and a very good heating system for the freezing winter mornings! I'd then go for a big fry up in the canteen before getting my costume on - this had to be waterproof as the Quidditch Match was in a storm. Once this was done, I'd go to make up to get various cuts and bruises put on, then go back to my trailer and wait to be called. We had plenty of things to do, like basket ball, table tennis, board games, TV, videos and computers - and an endless supply of Ribena and flapjacks. It was great!

Being on set was amazing - there are loads of lights and wind machines, and dozens of crew members, all doing different jobs, including operating the Quidditch brooms. I was actually flying, with wind, leaves and water hurtling at me. How is it done? I'm not saying - it's magic!

Have you performed in anything else?

I've been in various things since attending Conti's, including 'Bugsy Malone' at Plymouth Theatre Royal, a re-recording of 'Karma Chameleon' at Abbey Road Studios with Boy George and Culture Club, Will Gareth and Zoe's 'Pop Idol' concert, 'Dream Team' on Sky One. I'd also done many amateur productions in my home town

I'd really like to get a part in panto. It's something I've always wanted to do, particularly as I've been to Plymouth Theatre Royal's every year since I was three. I'd now like to be onstage rather than watching.

What do you most like about performing?

Just being under the lights, doing what I know I've always wanted to do since I was very young

What do you have planned for the future?

I came from a background with very little money and confidence, but I've managed to work my way up and get into drama school. Conti's and my amateur theatre background at home have enabled me to be where I want to be.


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