John Nayagam is a British actor best known for playing series regular Hari Prasad in Emmerdale. Born in London, to an Irish mother and an Indian father, He stars in Under the Black Rock at the Arcola Theatre in London.
– Under the Black Rock is set in 1980s Belfast, around the time of the Troubles. What drew you to this play?
I have always been drawn to plays about Ireland. The context is of unfathomable complexity, as history and current affairs tells us, but really I see Under the Black Rock as being a story of a family, navigating this complexity. For me as an actor, what really excites me is the family dynamics.
– What can you tell us about your character?
Cashel Ryan is the head of the family, and nestled in the heart of his Belfast community. He is a Catholic, from rural stock, but not overly religious. But, that said, his rules are the rules – both in his family and his community. He is a criminal, but one with a completely clear conscience; needs must.
– Do you feel you gravitate more to screen or stage? Or both?
I enjoy the theatre, because the process allows a longer and more fruitful relationship with the character, the company and the piece, so it is a better opportunity to explore, and hopefully reveal, more of the character and themes. Conversely, screen, because it is less time-consuming, allows an actor to take on more projects. But, for me, the underlying process and intention remains the same.
– What’s next for you?
A walk with my son, a friend and his son for a few days. Heaven!
John Nayagam stars in Under the Black Rock, playing 2 – 25 March 2023.