Meet The Artist: Aaron Hickland

Aaron Hickland is a 27 year old Actor and Clown from Loughinisland, County Down. Aaron first got his love for acting when his drama teacher, Siobhan O’Toole cast him as Private Gar in the school’s production of Brian Friel’s,’Philidelphia, Here I Come!’. Aaron was hooked, he went on to perform in London Old Vic Tunnels with National Youth Theatre and the rest is history. Before acting Aaron wanted to become a barrister he said, “Siobhan always says “Don’t tell people that, they’ll think I ruined your life!”. 

What genre / style do you create in?

The clown in me always makes me drift towards the silly, surreal and the childish. So probably that.

What would you be best known for?

A few years ago I read an extract from Seamus Heaney’s “The Cure At Troy” in the Ulster Hall to introduce Bill Clinton for his Freedom Of The City ceremony. Joshua Burnside played on stage, there was news cameras and politicians everywhere, and there I was kicking it all off. Though I was probably upstaged by Bill. Maybe.

What would you consider your biggest achievement?

Performing Marie Jone’s one man show “A Night In November” in Loughinisland on the 18th anniversary of the Loughinisland Massacre. The performance raised money for the Loughinisland Justice Group, and the script mentions the massacre in the final scene. I’ll never forget that performance, no matter what shows I do in the future. It’s what theatre was made for, really. I’ll never forget it.

What would you consider to be the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your industry?

Make friends. Make stuff. In that order.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

In 2018, the brilliant Ro Owens created a show called SHARKTANK to be performed by Movement Collective, a group she and Emily Foran co-founded.

There was 5 of us in the cast, to premiere at Stockholm Fringe that summer. 7 gruelling months of writing, devising, rehearsing, choreographing, editing, fundraising, marketing, sweating and crying later… we made it to Stockholm! We even snagged an Audience Choice Award too.

Tell us a little about your personal life, are you married, kids, hobbies etc?

Im a 27 year old child. My brothers call me “Ol’ Hurricane Aaron” and I don’t disagree. As a teenager, I was on the Northern Ireland karate team. I’ve been coasting off that ever since.

Tell us about your most recent work?

“Lagan Bubble” is an audio adventure for children that I’ve been wanting to do for pretty much over a year, but never got round to it. Im very proud of it, as it’s everything I love to do in one piece. I hope families have as much fun listening as I did making it.

What would you like us to tell people about?

I’m in the middle of writing my first full length play! I even got some NI artists mad enough to help develop it. Its still on its baby steps, so for now I’m going to pretend I’m cool and mysterious and say no more.

Other than that, I’ve been making friends with the camera over lockdown. Im slowly collating it all on my instagram. A lot of it has the incredibly well crafted camera work of Conor Doran.

If you had to describe your work to someone who has never heard of you what would you say?

A lot of silliness, with a little bit of earnestness.

What’s the funniest experience you’ve had in your business?

Being hired as a “Father Ted” impersonator for a corporate Christmas dinner. The organiser forgot they had hired us, so the majority of our diner-audience were not impressed at 24 year old me in a grey wig. I asked them if they wanted to meet Mrs Doyle, they asked me to let them eat.

What would your advice be to young people hoping to pursue the same industry?

Make your own work, shamelessly and relentlessly. Train with whomever and wherever you want to, not just where people tell you to. Find artists whose work you love and get to know them. Look after your friends and look after yourself. It’s ok to step away and take a break, it’s not a cult (mostly), you can always leave and come back later. Not everyone will give you a job, but almost everyone will give you advice . Most importantly, never ever ever, under any circumstances, listen to advice from people like me.

Anything else you want to tell people about yourself or your work?

When we can all finally meet in large groups indoors again, I’ll be starting up classes that mix clowning and acting techniques. I led a class in March and had planned more Clown classes for 2020…though in many ways, I feel 2020 has made clowns out of us already.

Who do you look up to and why?

Sue Morrison. Isaac Luy. David Quinn. Gemma Mae Halligan. Mick Barnfather. Rhiann Jeffrey. Emily DeDakis. Jos Houben. Patrick J O’Reilly. Oona Doherty. Sarah Gordon. Siobhan O’Toole. Oli Weatherly. David Grant. Sean McGrath. Ro Owens. Kieran Lagan. Conor Doran.

Some of these people are extremely close friends, others, I haven’t had the chance to speak to in years…but each one made an impact on me, either by their friendship, or talent, or both.

You can stay up to date with Aaron here >> Aaron Hickland (Facebook) @Aaron_Hickland (instagram)


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