Acting, auditioning, and the audience: lessons from John Bell

With five decades experience behind him, actor and director John Bell has plenty of advice for up and coming thespians.

John Bell believes in taking risks. Currently appearing in the role of Falstaff in Bell Shakespeare’s Henry 4, he says he didn’t believe that he was right for the part and had to be talked into playing it.

‘I’ve been terrified of the role and I really had to be almost pushed into playing it. I thought I was quite wrong for it physically, and I didn’t know if I was right for it temperamentally. I said this at some public forum and I got emails and letters and phonecalls saying ‘Just put on a fat suit and give it a go’. And I’m rather grateful for that, because I think I mightn’t have dared otherwise.’

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts