Actors needed to join nursing student Ryan on Sheringham Little Theatre stage

Railway Children actor Ryan Starling with Linda Ovenden and Mike Watkins at the North Norfolk Railwa

Railway Children actor Ryan Starling with Linda Ovenden and Mike Watkins at the North Norfolk Railway. Picture: ANDI SAPEY - Credit: Archant

Theatres play a large part in Ryan Starling's life - both the dramatic and operating variety.

The young actor is learning his lines alongside nursing skills as he prepares for a summer drama season in his native Norfolk.

Mr Starling, 24, is taking two roles in the 'rep' programme at Sheringham Little Theatre.

But he is also studying for a nursing degree to help bolster his finances, and 'do something worthwhile,' during the spells between acting jobs.

He explained: 'It is difficult to support yourself financially as an actor. Some people do bar and restaurant work, but I wanted to do something useful which also gave me the flexibility to put acting first.'

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Mr Starling is in the first year of a three-year adult nursing degree course at the University of East Anglia which has also seen him gaining experience in operating theatres and community hospitals.

He aims to be a 'bank nurse' - picking up stand-by hospital work when he is free, but also able to head off to auditions at the drop of a hat.

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This summer he will play Peter, one of the Railway Children in the classic adventure story which is among the Sheringham venue's five-strong summer drama line-up. He is also Tristram in the Alan Ayckbourn farce Taking Steps.

It will be Mr Starling's third season at the theatre, whose youth outreach work has helped him forge his acting career.

He was born and raised in North Walsham where dad Keith Starling is an electrical engineer and mum Diane a secretary at the junior school.

He first took to the stage at North Walsham High School, where he loved drama lessons and took the lead role in Macbeth. He joined the Sheringham Little Theatre's outreach group, and went on to help run sessions for them.

Mr Starling also got involved with productions at Paston Sixth Form College, in North Walsham, and its Far East Theatre Company before heading to the Rose Bruford Drama School in Kent.

His first job as a newly-qualified professional actor was back at the Sheringham theatre as schoolboy Salty in Teechers during the 2013 summer season when he also appeared in the farce Tom Dick and Harry. He was back there in 2014 for parts in Neville's Island, Irma Vep, and Kiss of Death.

Mr Starling stressed that although he is working hard towards his nursing degree, drama remained his main goal and love.

'Acting is the main thing and always will be. It is just a case of there being no guarantees and I don't want to end up struggling for money all my life,' he said.

Sheringham Little Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: 'We are pleased and proud that our outreach work helped Ryan towards his chosen career – and delighted to showcase his skills again in our summer season.

'It can be tough for young actors and Ryan has shown a lot of maturity by adding nursing skills to help him provide finances while he furthers his dream.'

For tickets call the box office on 01263 822347, or visit

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