Rising Derbyshire actor Adam Horvath

Adam Horvath, recipient of the Brian Weaver Fellowship

Adam Horvath, recipient of the Brian Weaver Fellowship - Credit: Archant

Nigel Powlson meets Adam Horvath, the young up-and-coming local actor and winner of the Brian Weaver Fellowship

Adam Horvath in The Odyssey at Derby Theatre Photo: Robert Day

Adam Horvath in The Odyssey at Derby Theatre Photo: Robert Day - Credit: Archant

However talented a young actor is, it’s always difficult to get a foothold in a competitive business, especially if you are having to pay your own way. That’s why Doreen Weaver set up a fellowship for aspiring young talents in memory of her husband Brian.

Now Derby’s Adam Horvath is getting the helping hand that Brian missed out on, and after a year of guidance from Derby Theatre will be well placed for long-term success.

Applications flooded in from all over Derbyshire when the Brian Weaver Fellowship was launched last December and 18 were shortlisted for group auditions. Adam was one of seven invited back for individual auditions and was thrilled to be awarded the fellowship.

‘I’m over the moon, especially as it’s here in Derby,’ he says. ‘It’s at a theatre that is so special for me.’

Adam Horvath (centre) in The Odyssey at Derby Theatre

Adam Horvath (centre) in The Odyssey at Derby Theatre - Credit: Archant

The fellowship means that Adam has guaranteed parts in two show as a fully-paid professional. The first was an adaptation of the Greek classic The Odyssey earlier this year and the second will be in the prestigious Derby Theatre festive offering A Christmas Carol.

In between, Adam is getting some help and mentoring from Derby Theatre artistic director Sarah Brigham.

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‘It’s brilliant just having someone in theatre helping you and putting a word in for you,’ Adam says.

Adam first took to the former Playhouse stage at the age of 14 in a youth theatre production of The Tempest. He remained a member of the youth theatre until he was 19 and then became involved with Derby LIVE Community Theatre and performed in Peer Gynt, Lysistrata and Cranford The Musical. It became a proper family affair as dad Mick was also part of the community theatre.

Adam Horvath (centre) in The Odyssey at Derby Theatre

Adam Horvath (centre) in The Odyssey at Derby Theatre - Credit: Archant

‘He’s really got into acting now and has done quite a bit semi-professionally,’ says Adam. ‘He says any talent I have comes from him and he started it all off!

‘All my family though are very supportive and it’s nice to have that back up. I always have family and friends in the audience whenever I’m on stage.’

Adam’s long ‘apprenticeship’ of youth and community shows has constantly nurtured his ambitions.

‘It has all been very helpful,’ he says, ‘and it means whenever I turn up at Derby Theatre there is always at least two people there that I already know!

Adam Horvath in The Odyssey at Derby Theatre

Adam Horvath in The Odyssey at Derby Theatre - Credit: Archant

‘We are such a small city but there’s always a lot happening in the arts. That means there is a buzz about it and the community is very supportive of young people.’

The ex-Landau Forte pupil has since appeared as a supernumerary in Derby LIVE production, The Merchant of Venice and Lucy Gannon’s Broken Hearted. He has also done voiceovers for a number of CBBC adverts and has worked back at Landau Forte as a teaching assistant.

‘A lot of the inspiration for me pursuing acting as a career has come from Landau Forte,’ says Adam, who has been pursuing professional acting jobs for the last three years.

At 22, Adam knows that he’s reached the crucial point in his career where he’s looking to make the decisive break into the professional acting world.

He says: ‘There are so many talented people out there and it is difficult.’

But Adam has begun to make the transition from youthful promise to a steady churn of professional work. He heard about the fellowship straight after a spell working for Red Earth Theatre and that encouraged him to say goodbye to the day job at Landau Forte.

The decision quickly paid off. Giles Croft, the artistic director at Nottingham Playhouse, came to see Adam in his first show as part of the fellowship scheme, The Odyssey, and signed him up for Andy Barrett’s The Second Minute. The show has since toured up and down the country this year.

Giles Croft said: ‘When I was casting for The Second Minute I saw Adam’s excellent performance in The Odyssey and immediately knew he’d be perfect for the part of Thomas Swann, the young soldier whose story is at the heart of the play. It is fitting that the first performances was at the Studio at Derby Theatre.’

Adam says: ‘That was an important job for me because it was beyond Derby and that’s what you need, for your name to start growing out there.

‘It’s nice to be in rehearsals every day, for it be full on and there not to be any parts of the day where I have to go to school or work; just to know that’s my job.”

He’s now looking forward to A Christmas Carol.

‘Derby Theatre is home,’ he says. ‘That’s what it is. I can’t wait to be back on that stage at Christmas. It will be a great show to do.’

And having had the fellowship as a helping hand, he’s in no hurry to ditch Derby for the bright lights of London.

He says: ‘One day I might have to move to Manchester or London but at the moment being here works very well for me.

‘For the last few years I have known this is all I have ever wanted to do. Anything else has been a stop gap and now it’s happening for me.

‘The fellowship has been a big help. It’s a lovely thing for Doreen to have done. I speak to her regularly and she’s very supportive. It’s a brilliant legacy. This kindness will stay with me for the rest of my career. It’s like starting again the old apprenticeships of rep theatre. It feels like the kick-start to my career proper and I just have to keep at it now.’

A Christmas Carol can be seen at Derby Theatre from 4th December to 5th January.

The Brian Weaver Fellowship

After the loss of her husband, Doreen Weaver wanted to ensure a young Derbyshire actor got the chance to pursue dreams that were denied to Brian – whose lifelong love of theatre never translated into a full-time career. So she launched a fellowship in his memory late last year.

Brian’s involvement in, and lifelong passion for, the arts, coupled with the sad fact that he was unable to become a full time professional actor due to financial constraints, was the inspiration for Doreen’s generosity.

Doreen, from Buxton, wants the fellowship to be a legacy for her husband and his love of theatre. Therefore, the fellowship was launched to provide an aspiring local actor with the opportunity of professional paid work, invaluable experience and other opportunities under the guidance of Derby Theatre.

Doreen was involved in the audition process and said she thought Adam was ‘wonderful’ but left the choice to artistic director Sarah Brigham and the theatre professionals.

‘I said “you are the people who have to work with him”,’ says Doreen. ‘There were lots of very talented people but there was something about Adam.

‘It was so lovely when I went back to the theatre the following day and everybody I met thought he was exactly the right person for this fellowship.’

Doreen hopes this will give Adam the stepping stone that Brian was denied.

She says: ‘My husband was a very good actor but his father was a coalminer. They didn’t have much money and when Brian had offers for various things he couldn’t take them up. He was offered a job in Chesterfield at £5 a week but couldn’t afford to take it as it would not have covered his travel and lodgings, which was such a shame. The next person in line said he would do it for nothing. That was Patrick (The Prisoner) McGoohan. He went on to have a fantastic career but Brian beat him at the audition.

‘That’s why I came up with this idea so that I could help someone else who was talented get a step on the ladder and it needed to be someone from Derbyshire as Brian was passionate about acting but also passionate about Derbyshire. He was born in the county and he loved it. Adam has always lived in Derby so there’s that connection as well.’

Doreen says she will now carry on the fellowship ‘as long as she possibly can’.

‘My one regret is that I didn’t think of it before Brian died. I just wish he had known.’

Bringing on Talent

Derby Theatre’s artistic director Sarah Brigham says that when Doreen Weaver came forward with the fellowship idea she was immediately excited by it. ‘It was her suggestion and I have enormous respect for her for coming forward with a great idea.’

Sarah wanted to make sure that the winner was truly worthy and set up an exhaustive selection process.

She says: ‘We saw some brilliant people and Adam came through on his own merits but I couldn’t have predicted how easy and successful he makes it. Involving him in The Odyssey was great and you could not have picked him out from the rest of the cast. If I had said “one of our actors hasn’t had the formal training of the others”, you couldn’t have said it was Adam. He worked so hard in that rehearsal process. There were moments of training but he was shoulder-to-shoulder with the other actors. We had actors of real quality and he totally held his own.

‘When Giles Croft saw him and got in touch with me saying he was “brilliant” that backed up that feeling. Giles didn’t do that as a favour to us but cast him because he thought Adam was really good. That’s what the fellowship has done for him because, nine times out of ten, it’s just being put in front of the right people. He’s getting a new agent now and things are really starting to happen for him.

‘You never know with an actor’s career but I think he’s a really special individual.

‘We are talking to Doreen about running the scheme again next year and, if we do, then whoever gets it will have a hard act to follow. He’s not only been in the shows, he’s seen lots of theatre, attended masterclasses – he’s taken every opportunity. He’s a real Derby success story, having worked with a number of arts organisations and in the amateur sector and he’s so nice as well.

‘It’s a tough job being a professional actor but he’s had a good start and he will always have Derby Theatre helping to open doors for him.’

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