JACKO Lang is an actor, poet, playwright and songwriter.

Next week he appears in Play Something by Paul T Davies at the Mercury Studio Theatre, Colchester, on February 26 and 27. For tickets call the box office on 01206 573948.

What or who got you interested theatre? Did you take part in any productions at school?

I was interested in acting while I was in primary school, however a few negative experiences with it and a preoccupation with sport made me ignore theatre until I was doing my GCSEs. I didn’t bother with extra-curricular productions at school, as these were mostly musicals and pantomimes which at the time I couldn’t see the point in doing. Despite not being involved in productions and not having the chance to see much theatre I had very encouraging and supportive people around me in the form of teachers, peers, and family, and so my interest in theatre was able to grow.

Are or were any members of your immediate family involved in the theatre?

My grandmother loved going to the theatre. She once took me to see King Lear at The Globe for my birthday. She would be proud of what I’m doing with Play Something, as are the rest of my family. My sister has heaps of writing talent, and her style of writing would lend itself well to the theatre, so perhaps we will have another dramaturg soon!

Who is the most inspiring person you’ve worked with and why?

My Grandad is a builder, and I worked with him when I was a teenager. There is a stereotype that people who work in manual labour are unintelligent, and in my experience this is completely untrue. We shared stories, sang songs, and discussed every topic you can think of. All of these things made a lasting impression on me, but perhaps the most important thing I learned was something Grandad called ‘stepping back’. All this means is gaining a fresh perspective on the thing you are working on, or in Grandad’s case what he is building. He had a variety of ways of doing this, and some of these things I still use to try and think about my writing and characters in an objective and original way. Above all we worked hard, and this has inspired me in countless areas of my life.

What formal training have you done?

I have a degree in drama from Essex University, which was a course that studied both theory and practice in equal measures. I have recently submitted the final assessment for my master’s degree in playwriting (also at Essex).

Do you have any specialist skills – anything from stilt walking to dress-making – which you work into your repertoire?

In some of the productions I have been in I have played musical instruments on stage, and on one occasion I have used my skills as a whittler. In Play Something my knowledge and training in combat has been useful in exploring the physicality of my character. It has also fed into the rehearsal process, and we have used boxing warm-ups to capture the energy needed to carry the play.

Which experience/role do you regard as the highlight of your career to date?

In 2013 a production of my play, Bran the Fisherman, was directed by Gari Jones and performed at the Arcola theatre. This was the first play I’d ever written and so this felt like a significant accomplishment, and has given me the motivation to try and develop a career in writing.

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?

By far the most embarrassing moment I’ve had on stage was at Tin Pan Alley in Colchester. I was in a punk band so we had permission to play technically imperfect music. However we had only started rehearsing three hours before, were pretty drunk, and didn’t have a rhythm section. We fumbled our way through a punk rendition of drunken sailor, an anti-nowhere league cover, and Scotland the Brave, and the audience politely applauded. However when the nicest thing you hear afterwards about your playing is that it was ‘a valiant effort’ you know nobody will be writing home about you.

Which actor (s) performer (s) do you most admire and why?

I suppose my deepest admiration goes to those who have managed to hold their own in a variety of different artistic fields, such as Henry Rollins, Tom Waits, or Jamie Fox.

What role would you most like to play and why?

I have been lucky to play some great characters like Skinlad from Road and Man/Roy in Dog. One of the great things about being in Play Something is having the chance to explore a character that is not like the characters I’ve played before. I could not identify one singular character I’d want to play; I just want to be challenged.

Ever corpsed on stage? What happened?

Not since the last year of my GCSEs. Our drama class had been divided into groups and we were trying to create an original piece of devised work. We had put little effort into this project, and we were still improvising much of the performance on the day we had to show the work to our teacher. During one of the bits we were improvising one of the performers said something that made us laugh. Admittedly, the thing they said was ridiculous but our teacher set us straight. She made it clear that breaking character in that way is the worst thing you can do, and I felt ashamed that we had not performed to the best of our ability. Since then I have worked hard to ensure that I am always as prepared as I can be, and I have become a better performer for it.

Any big plans for the future?

I have plans to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer where I will show my work. I will be recording new music soon so perhaps I will take those songs with me. I will also keep writing my plays and my poetry. I already have very clear ideas about what I want to do in that area.

Any tricks for remembering your lines or other useful tips to pass on to other actors/directors?

The industry is not short of highly talented people wanting to act and direct. If you want to succeed you have to give yourself the best chance by working as hard as you can. This isn’t a secret or a trick of the trade it’s an obvious fact of life. I’ve met many people that claim they want to act or direct, and yet they are unavailable, underprepared, or at least in some way uncommitted. If I fail at becoming who I want to become it will be because I didn’t have what it took, not that I didn’t try. You want to learn your lines? Get off the internet, pick up your script, and do the work.