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LATEST: Bearsted actor Jake Richards battled ME to achieve stage dream

Friday 16th July 2021

A BEARSTED man has told how he battled a debilitating illness to become a professional actor.

Jake Richards has just joined the Changeling Theatre to take up the part of Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream which tours this summer.

But Jake, 25, a former pupil of Roseacre Primary School and The Lenham School (formerly Swadelands), had to overcome myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) at the age of 15.

Also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, ME's most common side effect is extreme tiredness, although its cause is not properly understood.

Jake said: "I found school tough as I was diagnosed with ME when I was 15 years old, so exams were hard work.

"I have learnt to manage my condition now and never let it define me...coping with the tough days has made me more resilient."

Jake has an acting degree from the ArtsEd performing arts school in Chiswick, west London and joins the Changeling team after roles in Germ Free Adolescent and This Wounded Island at London theatres.

He added: "It has been a tough time for everybody in the pandemic, not least the theatre industry.

"I see this tour, not just as a boost for Kent, but also the kickstart to the return to theatre.

"I want this to be a celebration that we have all, as a country, come through this difficult time and still get to do what we love."

Of his role as naughty Bottom in the Shakespeare play, he added: "When I auditioned, it lit a fire in my belly - I just knew I had to do it, so I gave it my all.

"When I got the call to say I had the part, I was on the phone to my family within seconds. They told me to do Kent proud."


PIC: Yellowbelly Photography