COLEG Sir Gâr has welcomed a seasoned British actor with an impressive repertoire for TV and stage work to its creative industries team.
From treading the boards on Broadway to the red carpet on Leicester Square, Simon Thomas, known in the acting business as Simon Nehan, is looking forward to his future teaching role following recent filming on Netflix’s The Crown.
His career has taken him as far as Madrid, Budapest, Paris and New York and as a former Coedcae pupil armed with years of experience, Simon is keen to inspire local students sharing his experiences of working with actors such as Zac Effron, Eddie Marsan and Oscar-winning Eddie Redmayne.
Simon’s many acting roles have included Merlin and Made in Dagenham but the role he is most proud of is in the BBC’s adaptation of Birdsong, a two-part British TV drama based on Sebastian Faulks’s war novel. “Watching good actors at work is always a great learning curve,” said Simon. “It was a big production by the BBC with great writing, great performers and a great production team, plus it involved 10 weeks of filming in Budapest.”
Comparing theatre work to television, some roles are more demanding than others and Simon says that stage work is the most demanding. “I was offered a part in Sarah Kane’s Blasted which was a highly controversial and graphic play which in its first production, drew fierce criticism from the press as well as theatre protests,” he said. “It uses themes of ethnic cleansing, torture, rape and genocide based on the 1990s Bosnian war, so to recreate scenes like this was mentally challenging.”
Simon’s other work includes Casualty, Holby City and even a panto with Katie Price and he says he’s been lucky finding work but not all auditions are set in stone. “You need to be driven and realise that not every audition will go your way,” he said. “There is an element of luck involved but you need to work at it and you need to be on time; you can lose a part because your eyes aren’t the right colour but don’t lose the part because someone has done more work than you on the script.”
Always drawn to the idea of teaching, Simon feels he has the experience to share with a new generation of aspiring performers and can relate to students as he also studied a BTEC diploma before attending Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. “Acting is a craft,” he added. “Getting students to ask the right questions before approaching a role and encouraging them to take risks and express themselves is vital. I tell the students I’m one of them, I’m from Llanelli, I’m a steelworker's son and if I can do it, so can they.”
Pic: Simon Nehan (left) as Rev Eli Jenkins in Under Milk Wood at The House, Birmingham Rep (photo credit: The Reviews Hub)