Full Biography - Mike Booth
At university, Mike performed in plays by Marsha Norman, Neil Simon, Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Nicky Silver, Stephen Sewell, Edward Albee, Ted Tally, Tom Stoppard and Julian Mitchell. In that time he also wrote and directed his first short play, Crucial Pursuit, a rom-com about unrequited love and the game of Trivial Pursuit. His devotion to theatre led to his dropping out of his mathematics degree and attempting to become a playwright. At 19 he was selected to join the NIDA Playwrights Studio where his one-act play The Tunnel was workshopped at the National Playwrights Conference in Canberra under the mentorship of Stephen Sewell and direction of Kate Gaul. The same play became part of the Tamarama Rocksurfers’ first ever production at The Old Fitzroy, directed by Jeremy Cumpston.
Mike’s continued fascination with the art of acting led him to study in New York at the Atlantic Theatre Company, with teachers Karen Kohlhaas, Robert Bella and William H Macy. Contemporaries in his class included Rose Byrne and Damien Walsh-Howling. Two years later Mike took up further studies in Chicago with Steppenwolf Theatre Company. His teachers at Steppenwolf included Austin Pendleton, Anna D Shapiro, Sheldon Patinkin, Tina Landau, Jeff Perry and Rondi Reed. This proved to be a life-affirming experience that galvanised Mike’s sense of belonging to the world of the theatre. Almost a decade later Mike would enjoy a personal career highlight when his own company was invited to perform his play That Old Chestnut exclusively for the Steppenwolf cast of the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning August: Osage County in the green room of the Roslyn Packer Theatre.
Mike has co-founded three theatre companies and two film production companies. The Group Theatre, formed in 2002 with former actor Amos Szeps, enjoyed productions at Belvoir Street Theatre, The Old Fitzroy, Darlinghurst Theatre, as well as two legendary shows, Lord of the Flies and Hurlyburly, at the Stables Theatre, directed by Iain Sinclair. For a decade Mike ran Cathode Ray Tube with fellow actors Jessica Wren and Alistair Powning, producing original work for the Old Fitzroy and the beloved Tap Gallery in Darlinghurst. Other plays Mike has directed include Balm in Gilead, Spike Heels and Our Country's Good.
His writing and directing has expanded to the world of cinema, Mike’s other great passion. He collaborated with award-winning actor Damon Herriman on the short film The Hitch, a black comedy about a serial killer and a hitch-hiker, that enjoyed world-wide festival success. His feature film Mr Pillow, starring Andrew Henry, had its world premiere as a live stream during the 2020 lockdown. Mike’s latest feature film Thirty-Three, an adaptation of his play (co-authored with Alistair Powning), is in the latter stages of post-production and will play the festival circuit in 2021.
As a TV actor, Mike guested in the first three seasons of Packed to the Rafters and enjoyed notoriety as Harry, the eccentric housemate to Brooke Satchwell, in the Network Ten series Wonderland. He has further claim to notoriety in advertisement land as the revered and reviled Greater Union / Event Cinemas guy.
Mike has taught acting for over twelve years, both as a private coach and at schools around Sydney, including the Hub Studio and the Sydney Actors Association. His dedication to his own development has not wavered, having participated, audited and assisted five of Larry Moss’s Sydney masterclasses and recently completing the year-long module course in the Meisner technique at the Impulse Company in London.