In March, Gus Fontaine (10D) performed in ‘Emil and the Detectives’ at the National Theatre. Below he gives his account of his first professional acting job.


When I found out I got a part in ‘Emil and the Detectives’ at the National Theatre, I was overjoyed as it was my first professional job after two years of auditioning. When I travelled into Central London for the first time to rehearse, I was excited to meet the cast and crew working on the production. I wasn’t completely nervous because I already knew two children performing with me – both are in my acting club and agency. The play was a seven-month run, including rehearsals, so I knew I would have time to get to know everyone working on the play.

I enjoyed rehearsals and I mostly worked with the director, assistant directors and choreographer. Although I was working with other children and I could easily get distracted, I knew it was a job and I had to be professional. The highlight of rehearsals was when we met the Queen and Prince Philip. This was because it was the 50th anniversary of the National Theatre and we were performing on the Olivier Stage. It was a huge surprise when we were told the news and none of the child actors believed it at first. However, when we eventually acknowledged the news there was a lot of tension building up to the day.

We were told that we had to say “Your Majesty” to the Queen and “Your Highness” to Prince Philip. However, on the spur of the moment when I was speaking to Prince Philip, I called him “Your Majesty”! He didn’t seem to mind, though.

There was a lot of excitement building up to the first preview and I was not as nervous as I thought I would be when I first stepped on stage. When the performances started I enjoyed every second of them. Throughout the five months of performances, I made very few mistakes. As the last shows approached, we put everything into each show we had.

When the last show came I performed with all I had inside me until the lights went out. I was sad that it was over, yet excited at the possibilities to come. Overall, I really value my seven months in ‘Emil and the Detectives’. It was a great experience.


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