Actor Salvatore D’Aquilla says he needs little pretext to return to his home city of Sheffield but nothing beats coming back to perform at the Crucible theatre.
He is appearing in the appropriately-named Operation Crucible, a drama about four men trapped in the cellar of the Marples Hotel after it had been bombed in the Sheffield Blitz of 1940.
The play was developed by four graduates of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art who all had an input although the final script was written by Kieran Knowles.
“Drama is such a crazy profession, you have to be proactive,” says Sal. “It’s very easy to sit around waiting for the phone to ring but it may never.”
They formed From Ground Up Theatre Company and got the play premiered at the Finborough Theatre in London and now a UK tour opens in Sheffield.
The Sheffield-born actor admits he hadn’t been aware of the Marples bombing.
“We researched various things and with me and JoshMayes-Cooper (who is not appearing this time as he is on tour in The History Boys) being from Sheffield we looked at the background of the city. I was interested in the working class culture and the steelworks. My dad worked as a crane driver in a steelworks.
“My dad is originally from Sicily and my mum from Dublin so I am a real mix. I can’t speak a world of Italian, I’m Sheffield through and through.”
Born in the Northern General he lived in Chapeltown and then Norfolk Park. He attended High Storrs and although it’s now a performing arts school he never did any drama there.
“I was quite shy – and still am – and I started drama to gain confidence,” he explains. “I was about 19 and went to classes in Richmond in Surrey where I was mentored by Tom Hardy and David Whitworth.”
With new-found confidence he went to LAMDA and then landed his first West End appearance in War Horse.
“I’m really keen on new writing and have a massive passion about doing this and to keep on working even if it’s not going to make me rich. Money doesn’t define what I do.
“I’m dyslexic so it’s hard for me to read a script and then audition the next day. So it really helps to be part of an ensemble and push the company forward. Kieran does the writing but we can all make suggestions and he is really receptive. Being part of a team of people reminds me of playing football with my friends.”
So what are his football affinities? “I will really sound like a glory hunter because all my uncles and my mother are Man U fans. My dad is a Wednesday fan so I’ve always followed them and I used to go to the football sessions with Tony Currie and he would sometimes take us to Bramall Lane. I’m someone who wants both teams to do well and get back to the days of David Hirst and Carlton Palmer and Brian Deane and Alan Kelly when both teams were in the Premier League.”