Since leaving Caulfield Grammar, Darcy Brown (Class of 2008) has pursued a career as an actor. Currently starring as Squealer and Old Major in Shake and Stir Theatre Company’s 2021 national tour of Animal Farm, he reflects upon where his journey has taken him.
Discovering theatre at Wheelers Hill
Darcy discovered his passion for theatre during his days at Wheelers Hill campus, under the direction of Dan Hartley and Lyndy Clarke. In his words, they were both “brilliant teachers, no-nonsense and inspiring, who treated you like an adult, assumed you were capable of anything, and opened up the world”.
He looks back on auditioning for Dan’s production of ‘Ross’ in Year 9 (at his insistence, after chickening out and missing the initial audition) and Lyndy’s production of ‘Marat/Sade’ in Year 11 as two milestones in his artistic journey.
A journey to NIDA
Another important step for Darcy Brown was his acceptance into NIDA. However, this wasn’t without its own trials and tribulations; Darcy initially auditioned after Year 12 and was shortlisted, but not accepted.
“In retrospect, this was a very good thing: I was 18, fresh out of one full-time institution, and needed to have a question-mark year”, he says.
Darcy initially continued on to his first year of a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne. This left him feeling overwhelmed and disorientated, and he knew he wanted to be somewhere else. Darcy auditioned once again for NIDA at the end of the year, and this time was accepted.
With this came three years of full-time study and practical vocational training; an incredibly intense period of time that pulled him in many different directions. However, it gifted him an abundance of friends, experience with industry professionals (amongst the likes of Al Pacino, Barry Humphries and Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company), and a great name attached to his CV that opened many initial doors. One of these was signing with his agent Lisa Mann Creative Management, who have championed him over the past 8 years.
Working professionally as an actor
Since graduating, Darcy Brown has worked with the Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare and Red Stitch. In 2017, Darcy was nominated for a Green Room Award for Best Male Performer for his work in Peddling with MTC. Initially thinking such opportunities and accolades were a far-off unattainable dream, he now finds it surreal to reflect on his body of work.
Even so, he is still greatly inspired by others. Seeing Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert in The Maids and Geoffrey Rush in Exit the King left a profound impact on him.
“There are a handful of theatre experiences that have just blown my mind”, he says. “A feeling of ‘why do I even bother getting up in the morning?’ eventually overtaken by, ‘maybe I could do that one day.”
Likewise, for his own craft, Darcy really values seeing what his work leaves behind.
“It’s very helpful and reassuring to feel, every now and then, that you’re not wasting your time. That people like working with you, or that a performance of yours has meant something to someone”, he says.
Darcy’s days are currently centred around his role in Animal Farm. He has an extensive warm-up and cool-down process, to ensure he can be fully present for each show.
Coming away from the season, Darcy has been nominated for a Matilda Award in the Best Supporting Male Actor category, no doubt a culmination of years of hard work.
As he continues to work, Darcy wants to see more government funding become available for the arts. He hopes producers will keep providing better support for actors, so they can perform at their best. Personally, he sees himself gaining more experience on set through film acting and making.
In leaving a word of advice to those coming after him, Darcy recommends the following:
“Find what you love, and pursue it. Whether that becomes your profession, or something that you retain just for you. Don’t be embarrassed by or dismissive of what inspires you. Follow your curiosity”.
Read our profile on Liz Russell, a wonderful Wheelers Hill teacher who impacted the lives of many young Grammarians.