A budding Norfolk actor will be making his professional debut in a summer drama season where he first performed 10 years ago.

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Ryan Starling, 21, who grew up in North Walsham and has recently graduated from the Rose Bruford Drama School in Kent, is one of the nine actors involved in this year’s Summer Rep at Sheringham Little Theatre, which kicks off this Saturday.

The theatre will show five plays over 10 weeks – the final one being performed on September 7.

Summer Reps used to be the traditional training ground for actors fresh out of drama school, but have since become a “dying art”, according to theatre director Debbie Thompson.

Over the past few decades this path has been well-trodden by many famous actors, but Mrs Thompson said the television soap operas have become the new version of Summer Reps for many performers.

The Sheringham actors have only eight days to rehearse for their first play, Teechers, by John Godber.

They will also be expected to rehearse for one play one day, perform a different one in the evening and learn lines for another one after that.

Sheringham Little Theatre first started Summer Reps 53 years ago and is one of six theatres in Britain which still continues the custom.

Mr Starling studied at North Walsham High School and the town’s Paston Sixth Form College before starting his three-year acting degree.

He first became involved at Sheringham aged 11, when he started the outreach classes for young people.

He played Dandy Dan in the Bugsy Malone musical in 2003.

He said: “It is exciting that I will be able to put my drama school techniques into practice. Summer Rep is important.

“It is quite intense because you are doing five plays in one season. It is a very traditional way to act.” He will be playing Salty in Teechers and Dick in the farce Tom, Dick and Harry.

This year’s rep will also include the thriller Deathtrap; and comedies We Found Love and an Exquisite Set of Porcelain Figurines Aboard the SS Farndale Avenue; and Lettice and Loveage.

Among the other actors this year is Ellen Waite, from Sheringham, who recently graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston with a drama degree.

Mrs Thompson said: “We can provide entertainment for local people and people visiting the town. If holidaymakers are here for one week they can see two plays. They get a good variety. It gives the audience the experience of seeing actors playing different roles.

“It is a dying tradition, but we are determined to do it in Sheringham because it is an important part of our heritage.”

She added: “The actors love it because it is about learning your craft. Not everyone can do it because you have to learn lines quickly and make quick decisions. You cannot hang about.”

Auditions are held in London and the Sheringham Summer Rep has been praised publically by Dame Judi Dench, (pictured left). Other supporters include John Hurt and Roger Lloyd-Pack.

Director of Teechers, Warren Cathrine, 41, from Norwich, said: “The Sheringham Summer Rep is important because Norfolk is a really creative place, but it plays second fiddle to London. I think once people have trained they should come back to their own counties to keep the theatre industry alive.”

For more information about Summer Rep productions visit www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com or call 01263 822347.

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