Connor McBurney is part of a stellar cast performing Dedham Players’ production of As You Like It at Castle House, on Castle Hill, Dedham, from July 4 to 7. Gates open at 6pm before the performance starts at 8pm. Tickets are priced £15, available from

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

I loved drama classes at secondary school, but was always too shy to audition for productions. So one day my teacher gave me a choice: either audition for the school production of Johnny and the Dead or she’d give me a rubbish part with two lines at the end anyway, I chickened out, but as time went on a main cast member dropped out and I got recast as that role. That’s where it all started for me, I still get the same buzz now as I did that first time.

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

No, although my Mum had always expressed an interest in it and I’m very lucky that both of my parents have always encouraged me in doing something I love. I hope one day Mum goes for it because I’m sure she’d be excellent. My Dad was briefly in a punk band: Wazzy Dizzik and the Terminal Cycle Paths. They were so punk they never made it out of my Nan’s house! My sister is also very talented creatively and likes directing.

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

The whole cast and crew of The Cripple of Inishmaan. Shortly after college I didn’t act for almost four years until auditions for this production came along. I was very nervous about meeting a whole cast of new people but everyone was very welcoming and encouraging. It was such a rewarding show to work on and perform and will always hold a special place in my heart. I’ve been lucky enough to work with almost all of that cast as well as the director and stage managers again on other projects since and I hope I get to do another Martin McDonagh play one day.

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

I’ve been playing piano since I was nine and in A Matter of Life and Death, my narrator character was on stage for almost the whole play providing musical interludes with a small band of other musicians and singers. One day I hope to be able to combine my love of aviation, I’m a qualified pilot, and theatre. Not quite sure how yet.

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

Probably Cripple Billy in The Cripple of Inishmaan. It was a physically and emotionally challenging role but I really enjoyed playing it and getting inside Billy’s universe. I even won an award for that role. My current role as Orlando in As You Like could well be the largest role I’ve taken on. I’ve really liked exploring and getting to understand the different relationships he has with the other characters.

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?

Messing up my opening speech in Carpe Jugulum is one that stands out. It was a bit Morecambe and Wise (all the right words, not necessarily the right order) Also loudly tripping over a tent peg on the closing night of that show as I left the stage was pretty embarrassing.

What role would you most like to play and why?

Easy one this! Richard III. I studied the play at school and the part just jumped off the page at me. Even amongst many of my class mates hating the very fact this play was a Shakespeare, I found myself having a clear idea in my head of how I would want to play this character. It would be quite a departure from the sorts of roles I usually play but I really want it to happen one day.

Ever corpsed on stage? What happened?

Yes! In The Railway Children we had smoke machines when trains arrived or left. One day one of them went completely haywire and started billowing out thick smoke all over the stage. From where I was I could see into the wings and spotted our stage manager wrestling the machine, still pouring out smoke through the fire escape. I tried to hold it in but I know my shoulders were giving me away.

Any big plans for the future?

As You Like It is almost upon us so I’m very much looking forward to that. After that I’m appearing as Lord Byron in An Ideal Husband in September.

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

Read and reread the script as much as possible. I find it helpful not only to learn lines, but it gives you a better understanding of your character. You will always discover something new about a text, even one you’re very familiar with. The challenge is getting across what you have gathered from multiple readings to an audience who will only see it once.