FORMING BONDS: Clinton Small, left and Darren King are back on stage from Tuesday with the first off-festival season of Janna-Ramos Violantes 'Callums Will'. Picture: Supplied
FORMING BONDS: Clinton Small, left and Darren King are back on stage from Tuesday with the first off-festival season of Janna-Ramos Violantes 'Callums Will'. Picture: Supplied

CLINTON Small is a name that often features on the cast lists of local stage productions and when you see this actor in action it’s not hard to see why.

In recent months he’s appeared as the main character in the hilarious 39 Steps, presented by The Catalina Theatre. He also played one of the leads in a more dramatic offering, Craig Eisenstein’s Your Hand in My Pocket.

He’s a familiar face in Think Theatre’s annual production of Othello (as Iago) and is involved on and off the stage in productions by The Actors Unemployed Company – of which he is a partner.

His upcoming project, which kicks off next week, is Janna-Ramos Violante’s Callum’s Will, in which he stars alongside stage luminary Darren King.

During a chat last week, Tonight learnt more about the show and why Small is such a brilliant actor.

I asked Small when he first fell in love with acting. He explained that his mother was very involved in theatre and as a child he would join in on the adventure.

“I would go to the theatre and watch rehearsals and sleep under chairs,” he laughed, “and in one particular show they needed a crowd on stage and I became part of that crowd. I remember I had to walk across the stage (in a scene) and it was exhilarating. I was between the ages of eight and 10 at that time. I just loved the atmosphere in a theatre.

“In my head I don’t actually have a choice. This (acting) is what I do and I haven’t felt the need to do anything else. It is difficult at times, but indeed rewarding,” he said.

Elaborating on what it is about the arts that he loves, Small said: “I love the creation of art, whether fine art, music or theatre; it is about creating something out of the imagination.”

Small said he had only recently had the luxury of being more selective about the work he does.

“My part in Callum’s Will really put things into perspective for me in terms of what I want to do. I have been incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to do the work I want to be doing, like, for example, working in Callum’s Will and Abnormal Loads. I am blessed that people who are creating original, meaningful works recognise me.”

Small prefers doing what he calls “acting acting”: “It’s about creating a character and being honest and truthful about it. A real human being in truthful experiences. It is even the way I approach Shakespeare… Shakespeare and drama fulfil me.”

Small shines in his role as Will in Callum’s Will, which sees him playing one of those true-to-life characters he loves so much.

“The way Janna writes comes from her belief in the honesty and truthfulness of situations. It has been wonderful working with her and Darren. Callum’s Will has been the quietest and most trusting space I’ve worked in. And for Darren, as his friend, it’s nice to see him get the opportunity to do this kind of work which he does so well. We are definitely talking about keeping this momentum (working with more dramatic pieces) going.”

Callum’s Will was a hit at the I ª Durban Theatre Festival, the National Arts Festival and the Hilton Arts Festival. It now comes to Durban’s Seabrooke’s Theatre for its first off-festival season from Tuesday to February 10.

Set in London in the early Nineties, it takes the audience on a journey with two people from different backgrounds who forge an unlikely friendship. Callum (King) is an ex-ballet dancer whose career was cut short after an accident. Will (Small) is a 20-something from the opposite end of the culture spectrum who becomes an assistant to Callum. The story evolves beautifully from awkward first encounters to a deep, lasting friendship, which neither expects or understands.

• Tickets: R80, call 083 250 2690. Shows are Tuesdays to Sundays at 7.30pm.