Sam on the Ashton Theatre stage: above left - in Henry IV; middle and right - as Malvolio in What You Will
JFM: Good morning Sam, to start with can you give us a little bit about your background and upbringing?
Good morning to you also Mr Moore and everyone in Chapel on this bright Wednesday/Thursday/Friday morning. So just a little bit about my background and upbringing. I was brought up for most of my childhood in the Welsh countryside and went to a Welsh primary school called Froncysyllte - apologies for my poor Welsh pronunciation. At the age of 11 applied for a music and arts scholarship to Oswestry School and managed to get a place there for Year 7. After that year I moved to a village near Shrewsbury called Ruyton-XI-Towns where some of you may know as the place where Packwood is located, with my mum and sister. Subsequently, after only a year at Oswestry I moved to the local state school. I then made my way down the A5 again after a year and ended up in Radbrook as a dayboy and then for Sixth Form at Shrewsbury made another move to The Grove.
JFM: Tell us why you choose to come to Shrewsbury.
I choose Shrewsbury because it was obviously a renowned school in the area, but one of the main reasons is that I found myself getting in with the wrong crowd at my other school. I didn't do any of the art/singing and music that I had done at Oswestry. Now this is quite embarrassing, but I realised after I got caught for smoking in the Year 8 boy's toilets, that this wasn't me and I wanted to get away from the wrong people. I had a look at the Shrewsbury School website and thought this was the perfect place to get back to my old self and so here I am today.
JFM: Do you recognise the person you were at 13 to now?
Well, when I came to Shrewsbury I was even shorter and a little bit chubbier than I am now, so I guess my appearance has changed a little - even though I came in the Third Form as a bit of a chav with a skin head, I'm still ginger, so that hasn't changed. But on a serious note, I still recognise the young person who wanted to achieve great things in school, someone who wanted to get involved in different areas of school life. I was definitely a confident young person back then and I still am today - Shrewsbury has made me all the more confident, especially in the arts which many people know me for. So, I think I do to a large extent recognise the person I was back then, similar to I am now, but obviously Shrewsbury has played a big part in helping me develop that person.
JFM: You talk about the arts; can you tell us why that is important to you?
Well I have taken part in many school productions over my time at Shrewsbury which have really developed my interest and love of the arts. People in The Grove hate me coming out with some of these cheesy quotes, but as Picasso said: "Art is a Lie that tells the Truth". This is why the arts are so important to me in that I agree with Picasso here in the sense that logically art is a lie; however, I think that the truth in art is that it tells us who we are, what we value and the truth about our society. I am so fascinated with the way in which dramatic arts can express who we are and the way in which we connect with the world, that being of the very cheesy reasons why it is so important to me.
JFM: You spent some time recently at a drama school in New York. Was that an eye opener?
Yes definitely. I spent four weeks under the Sanford Meisner Scholarship at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. I learnt a great deal into the ways in which an Actor has to connect to the character and how to not just recite lines, but feel what you are saying and live in the point of view of that Character. Again, every day I had my acting professor Maury Ginsberg, who will be in the Hangover 3 so look out for him, constantly saying to me "SAM!! CONNECT TO THE BODY". (If Mr Sheppe is in here, I apologise for my terrible American accent.) I now find myself saying to everyone in every Grove House play rehearsal, "Connect to the Body!" I think everyone found it annoying at first but started to understand what I was saying and this is what the main eye opener was in New York; in that we all live in different points of view and in theatre the characters we portray have different points of view also, so we have to connect to the body in order to portray that reality.
I have literally in the past week or so received a Scholarship Acceptance letter to study at this New York drama school in September for a three-year professional program, and after battling with the idea of going to two other drama schools in London I've decided to try and get myself to that drama conservatory in New York which was such an amazing eye-opener.
JFM: What will you miss about Shrewsbury?
I think the biggest thing I'll miss is all the opportunities one gets with an education at Shrewsbury. For instance, the trips to the Edinburgh Fringe with different productions, which I'll greatly miss. I will also miss the great number of MUN conferences I've been on, as they have been such great experiences. I'll also miss the little things like when after every dix notice in Radbrook when Mr Hann would say 'Please and Thankyou', or when you walk into Mr Cowper's office and he gives you that sly grin and you know he's caught you out on something. All these things I think I'm going to miss about Shrewsbury. If there's any advice I could give anyone that is to take advantage of all opportunities that are on offer here at Shrewsbury because I think that will be one of the things all leavers will miss.
JFM: And finally, if you had one message for those in front of you, what would it be?
As Einstein said: "Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value".
Below left: Celebrating the end of a 4-day Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award Expedition across the Caladonian Canal
Middle: With the MUN team in Paris
Right: Senior Debating Team