'The most irresponsible financial decision of my life'

Like many students in Year 10, I studied Romeo and Juliet. Then in Year 12, I studied Hamlet. But when it came to analysis of the text, I got it wrong. My conclusions were incorrect, and so I was never confident in my understanding of Shakespeare.

What compounded the problem was my speech impediment, which made reading, comprehension, and speaking difficult. Luckily, it was diagnosed when I was four, which led to work with a speech pathologist to arrest my stutter.

Following a Bachelor of Arts at Notre Dame University, Sydney, at 23, I went to London: I wanted classical training in acting. One day, two months after I had begun at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, I went to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, on the Southbank of the Thames.

For $5, I saw Stephen Fry and Mark Rylance in Twelfth Night. I watched from the floor, in the Groundlings section. I was metres away from these fantastic actors.

They made the audience hear every word they said. They also enabled me to understand Shakespeare effortlessly. It was an eye-opener as to how well Shakespeare could be done. From that moment, I wanted to perform Shakespeare, and to do it well.

My first Shakespeare play was in 2014, where I played the ghost of Hamlet's father for the ASC Random theatre company, at Finsbury Park, London. The season was four weeks, so when it ended, I toured Britain in productions of The Jungle Book and Sherlock Holmes. I did some commercials as well.

For 18 months, between gigs, I taught in a pupil referral unit in West London, which is for kids who have been expelled from schools and can't have conventional schooling. I have scraped together an existence via everything other than Shakespeare's words.

Life as a Shakespearean actor is tenuous. There is not a lot of work out there - even less in Australia. Two years after my return to Sydney in 2015, I had to go to New Zealand, where I joined the Pop-up Globe, to play Shakespeare.

While at university, I was fortunate to get good financial advice from my parents. They are both teachers and advised me to have a satellite career, which would mean I never went hungry between roles.

I am a trained drama and history teacher, and fill in for teachers at a high school in Lakemba. Several students think their teacher, Mr Turner, is a weird person, as he speaks to himself on playground duty.

When I was preparing to play Henry V, I would deconstruct a soliloquy, and walk around reciting it. I also practised speeches. It took me two months to get the lines into my head.

I am pretty strenuous with budgeting. I have to be ruthless when it comes to financial allocations, like my car repayments and HECS debt. I need to put money aside, because after the Melbourne season of the Pop-up Globe ends January 28, I will be an unemployed Shakespearean actor again.

In June, after completing the Auckland season of Henry V and As You Like It, in which I play Le Beau, I flew to Britain. I went to Westminster Abbey specifically to pay homage to the real Henry V. I stood in front of his tomb, and quoted a couple of stanzas to myself. It was such a great experience.

By pursuing life as a Shakespearean actor, I have probably made the most irresponsible financial decision of my life. But it wasn't hard. This is what I want to do. I can't see myself doing anything else.

I turn 29 next week. I am never going to be rich or fully pay off my debts, but I am doing something I love. It's what gets me up in the morning - playing Hamlet is at the top of my bucket list. I would prefer to do this and never own a home, than not do it at all.

Tickets to the Pop-up Globe in Melbourne: popupglobe.com.au

This story 'The most irresponsible financial decision of my life' first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.