As dull January days go, spending an afternoon in a seafront cafe in Bognor taking tea with a Roman gladiator definitely perks a girl up! Recently appearing in panto at The Alexandra Theatre, over a cuppa actor Titus told me how his interest in Roman history began.
“My grandparents loved films like Spartacus - ‘sword and sandals’ films as they called them - so I grew up watching these classic movies. I loved them and by the time I was six I could quote most of the dialogue from The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur. While I was still at primary school there was an educational visit to my school from a man who dressed as a Roman Legionary. I was fascinated and was delighted to be selected to try on the armour. It sparked an even bigger interest in history and as I progressed through school I studied hard and got involved in several historical drama productions.”
Deciding to work towards a career as an actor, Titus’s training included stage combat. Going on to specialise as an authentic Roman combatant, and keen to replicate his own positive school days ‘living history’ experience for children today, Titus created ‘Rome. Now.’ Providing a wide range of services, delivered by a range of expert performers and practitioners, he and his team are now in demand for displays, living history events and corporate work. They also visit schools, in full costume and armour, to host workshops.
“Last year I was performing in a West End [Eugenius the musical] which meant juggling appearances as a Roman a bit,” he said, showing me photographs of himself and his gladiator colleagues in battle dress.
“Our costumes are professionally made and are Hollywood grade. We live in a visual age and an actor, in character and in a historically accurate costume, is a highly effective way to teach people. We do a lot of cross-curriculum work with schools using Roman history as a stimulus and we also give talks to groups of all ages; from Rotarians to WI groups.
“It is a fully inclusive and interactive experience, so participants get to handle the weapons and to try on armour. We create a bespoke experience based on the key objectives of each group. We also offer party packages which are great fun to do.”
Based in Bedfordshire, Titus’s Roman roaming takes him all over the country.
“I have been exploring Chichester while I have been in panto and the Novium Museum and Fishbourne Roman Palace are places that I would especially love to work with,” he told me.
Admitting that channelling a Roman Gladiator means having to keep in excellent shape, Titus has to work out daily to maintain his fighter’s physique.
“I have lost half a stone of muscle tone while I have been doing the pantomime but I’ll be hitting the gym hard in January to build myself up again,” he said, reaching for a custard cream.
From where I’m sitting he looks just fine...