issue 2 | spring 2009
PATINA MILLER In on the Act
A Very Scottish Star
SPRING AWAKENING West End ablaze with bright young things Summer Schools
Into the Profession
ACADEMY OF THEATRE ARTS Ralph Richardson Memorial Studios, Kingfisher Place, Clarendon Road, Wood Green, London N22 6XF
l Musica Theatre
l a c i n h c Te Theatre
c Constru • n g Desi nd • u o S • ighting
t • L
en anagem M e g a t S
Undergraduate & Postgraduate Courses Plus an exciting programme of Part-time and Summer Courses Tel: 020 8881 2201 Fax: 020 8829 0034 firstname.lastname@example.org www.mountview.org.uk
We catch up with the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award nominated actor
Spring Awakening Knight Hooson documents the journey of the smash hit musical
prologue A big thank you to everyone for their feedback on the first issue. I have to say we were overwhelmed with the positive response. We truly appreciate all emails and letters of support. It seems students up and down the country are embracing this exciting new publication. Aside from the fact I’ve been performing nightly at the Trafalgar Studios, I’ve been working hard with our new and existing contributors to bring you another entertaining and informative edition. The west end is presently ablaze with bright young things and we’ve been out and about meeting the future celebrated stars of stage and screen. Patina Miller is gearing up for her leading west end debut in the predicted smash hit Sister Act at the London Palladium. Josh Boyd-Rochford catches up with her during rehearsals before she bursts out as a household name this spring. Knight Hooson documents the journey of the smash hit musical Spring Awakening from its birth in Germany to its new home at the Novello. Make sure you check out our competition to win tickets to see the show, meet the cast and the opportunity to write an article for our summer issue. Nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award, Sam Heughan chats to us about playing the lead in Young Alexander and his latest west end play Plague Over England. In addition to this, we also bring you our Summer School report, highlighting the best courses around, making that introductory step to training that little bit easier. We welcome your continued feedback and thank you for supporting our media partners contained in the magazine. You can now view us online using our iMag viewer so make sure you carry on spreading the word. All the very best, Phil Matthews Editor email@example.com
16 Rising Stars
Josh Boyd-Rochford meets musical theatre rising stars Patina Miller and Bonnie Hurst
Summer School Special We highlight some of the best courses in the UK this summer
4 Letter and News 12 Into the Profession 22 Actor’s Tool Box 26 My First Year 41 Case Study 46 Theatre 50 Classified
The First Word 6 Take Control 20 Graduate Profile 24 Student Support 28 Picture Board 44 Culture 47
letters I just wanted to say I find the magazine a really enjoyable read! As an 18 year old girl going through the drama school audition process for BA Acting for the first time, it is useful. It is up to date and fresh. I loved all the articles, great reading. It was good to hear from different perspectives, from starting out, to graduation, to first jobs. I love Zoe Wanamakers work and it would be great if you could get more interviews from well-respected actors in the future. The layout is also approachable and interesting. It is colourful and leads the reader to the next article nicely. I think that overall the magazine is a brilliant idea. Most of all I like the way it approaches drama training honestly, but positively. Catherine I was flicking through The Drama Student issue 1 yesterday and saw the interview with Francis Ortega, who is a graduate of the drama school I go to. Brilliant to see a specialised high quality publication out for students. Tom I received the magazines yesterday and I have distributed them. I must say, I was very impressed with your first edition. I thought it was informative, interesting and witty with good practical advice. Well done, I am sure it will be a great success. Adam I would just like to say what a fantastic magazine The Drama Student is. It’s about time that something like this was released, and I only wish it was about when I auditioned. I’m currently in my first year at Drama School and found it an incredibly interesting and relevant read. Can’t wait for the next issue! Chris I just want to say congratulations to you on the launch of your magazine. It is a most impressive magazine with so much useful and helpful advice covering the whole acting genre. Being a fan of Zoë Wannamaker I did enjoy reading her interview. Whilst it’s taken me too long to congratulate you and your staff I can say I’ve been rather busy promoting the magazine to all I can. Maggie I’m a Year 9 student at John Cabot Academy Bristol, and have recently subscribed to The Drama Student Magazine. As a keen performer hoping for a career in this profession I’ve really enjoyed the articles and advice of the 1st edition. Can you imagine how surprised I was when a guest speaker at my school’s career fair today was Sam Peter Jackson featured in Issue 1. Thank you so much for TDS; I’ll keep each one as a reference tool in preparation for the exciting journey ahead. Megan
Got Something to Say? If you have something to say about the magazine in general or the articles and interviews you read, we want to hear from you. The Drama Student website gives you that opportunity via our new forum feature. You can talk about absolutely anything. Network, exchange ideas, give your opinions or even write your own article or theatre review.
Interact at www.thedramastudent.co.uk/forum
news BBC Bursary for New Young Talent The BBC Bursary for new talent in Musical Theatre was launched in 2007 and has helped a number of young students further their studies by offering both financial and emotional help to students who would not have been able to afford their fees. Last year eighteen year old Katriona Perrett was a recipient of this bursary and has been successful in gaining places at two top drama schools to study Musical Theatre. Katriona auditioned for the fund and was first accepted on to a Foundation Course in Musical Theatre at Mountview. She received financial remuneration and mentoring from top Musical Theatre professionals. They were able to advise her on repertoire and audition techniques needed to embark on the audition circuit for the three year courses at accredited colleges. She has since been offered a place at Central. Katriona is absolutely delighted with her offers and attributes it to her hard work and the fact that the BBC and her mentors believed in her. All that she has to do now is to decide whether she will be going to Mountview or Central this September. Details of the BBC Bursary can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/performingartsfund/musicaltheatre
Theatre Festival – Be creative Manchester’s 24:7 Theatre Festival has discovered it has quite an international following. Individuals from as far afield as the United States, Ireland, Georgia, Iran, Russia, Australia, Brazil, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Thailand, Tunisia and Finland, not to mention lots of people in the UK, have all downloaded application forms and notes about entering plays into the 2009 festival. The 24:7 Theatre Festival is an annual showcase of new writing held in Manchester city centre every year. Now in its sixth year, the event will run from 20th – 26th July and organisers are keen to hear from those wishing to get involved. If you’re interested, you might want to get yourself along to the ‘Big Gathering’ on 11th May at the Pure nightclub in the Printworks.
Royal Welsh College A new vision
For more information visit www.247theatrefestival.co.uk
The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama has submitted plans to Cardiff Council to redevelop part of its existing site on Cardiff’s North Road to build a suite of world class training and performance facilities for musicians, actors, theatre designers and stage managers. The Royal Welsh College is the National Conservatoire of Wales and a leading UK provider of high quality education, training and performance in music and drama. This ambitious development will enable the College to significantly raise the quality and profile of its provision for Wales and the UK, and to attract the best international students to study in Cardiff. The development will complement the College’s existing high quality, small-scale performance and rehearsal facilities with an acoustically excellent 450-capacity recital hall, a 160-seat theatre, purpose-built drama rehearsal spaces and a handsome new arcade to exhibit the College’s award-winning design activity - a 21st century addition to Cardiff’s historic city centre arcades. Principal of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Hilary Boulding said “These new facilities will allow us to offer our future students the highest quality training environment and to bring their work to many more people.”
the first word
At just ten years old, Sarah Clark was diagnosed with Meningitis leaving her profoundly deaf and her dreams of becoming an actress seemly shattered. Now aged 21, she is determined not to let her disability prevent her from the career she has desired since childhood. It is 1996 – I am eight years old, and some Channel 4 casting agents come to my primary school looking for two girls and two boys to be in a short educational film. Blonde plaits bouncing excitedly I am chosen to audition, and end up landing the part. The filming takes only a few weeks, but it is enough to make me determined to be an actor – my poor parents had no idea what they were getting into. From then on I was obsessed with all things dramatic, and my parents, if not wildly enthusiastic, were supportive – after all, I enjoyed it, seemed to have at least some talent for it, and although it wasn’t a great career choice, it may work out, right? It is 1998 – I am two days away from my 10th birthday, but am really not feeling well. I am rushed to hospital, where Meningitis is diagnosed – an extremely serious disease, but I am one of the lucky ones, and miraculously pull through. Unfortunately not all of me makes it – and I am left now profoundly deaf. What seems even more miraculous to some people if that my desire to act is, if anything, made even stronger – although going deaf made me very shy in everyday life I was still fighting tooth and nail to be allowed on stage. My parents continue to be supportive, but are now very worried – they know that the acting
industry can be a very superficial one, and they’re pretty sure I’m going to end up getting badly hurt by some callous director telling me that disabled people cannot be actors. Oblivious to this, I continue to lobby to be allowed to do more and more acting, and when I am 13 they finally cave and allow me to apply to an agency. I soon learnt that even getting an audition with an agency could be quite difficult, but before long I was invited to London to audition for a prominent children’s agency. I worked hard learning two monologues and thinking about what I’d say in interview, but a few days before the audition something happened that felt like a slap in the face. My family had convinced me not to mention my deafness in my letter, as they felt this would stop me getting auditions at all. But I was feeling a bit guilty about this and was convinced that I should give them some advance notice. So when I had the house to myself I steeled myself, turned up the volume on the phone as high as it would go, and called the agency to explain. The voice that answered was friendly enough, but as soon as I dropped my bombshell – ‘I’m coming to audition for you on Saturday and just wanted to make you aware that I’m deaf’ – there was an awful pause. My heart was thumping as the girl on the other end pulled herself
thefirstword together enough to say ‘Um, I think I’d better get my boss. Can you hold?’ I was too deaf to hear what was happening, but I had images of a serious, whispered debate going on and nearly jumped out of my skin when the head of the agency herself was suddenly on the line. She was not happy – ‘I don’t know how I’d sell you’, was her verdict. I was too shocked to argue my case very well, but she eventually conceded ‘Well you’re booked in, so you might as well come. But…’ she trailed off ominously and I thanked her and said goodbye in a daze. When my mother got home I was still sitting by the phone, in floods of tears – this was honestly the first time it had properly struck me that being deaf could be an obstacle to being an actor. (I did go to the audition, in an obstinate way, got to perform one of my speeches, and was, not surprisingly, I was declined. My parents loyally said that it was their loss). I’m now 21, much more comfortable with who I am, and have a much better understanding of disability within the industry. I am currently applying to drama school and the experience could not be more different from the disastrous agency application – most drama schools have space on the application forms to disclose disabilities and although you don’t have to tell them anything, you are encouraged to get in touch so they can make sure the audition process is accessible for you. In my case this just means making sure I can lip-read them – whenever I hear the instruction ‘now close your eyes’ my heart sinks! Some schools are better at this than others – I had a very positive experience at Central, for example, with the movement tutor carefully placing herself in front of me during group exercises so I could understand, and the panel calling me over during a break to tell me to feel free to ask them to repeat things. Other schools are not so great – I spent a lot of my Guildhall audition feeling baffled as to what we were being asked to do, trying in vain to get a clue from what the others were doing! RADA are determinedly inclusive, and go so far as the explicitly state that during auditions they judge you solely on talent and potential, and don’t take any disability into account. In fact, during one interview there we ended up getting into such an in-depth discussion of deafness within theatre that we ran over by about 15 minutes! But of course, drama school if quite a safe space within the industry – what about when you graduate and there are thousands of you competing for one part? How do you convince a casting director to look at a disabled person when there is a queue a mile long of ‘abled’ actors waiting? There are theatre companies which use exclusively disabled actors – Graeae is the most well known of these, using not just disabled actors but directors and writers too, and for many this is an excellent way to produce high quality theatre without having to hide or work around their disability. But I have always felt that this is not the route for me – I don’t want to be a ‘disabled actor’, I’m an actor who happens to have a disability. I am not at all ashamed of it and if I were offered a part in a production which really used by deafness (‘Children of a Lesser God’, for example) then I would jump at the chance, but this segregation in theatre is something which makes me feel uncomfortable. Of course, even if you make the decision to play solely disabled parts there are no guarantees – the BBC took some criticism for casting a hearing actor as a deaf character in Eastenders, for example. It is interesting then, that it is the BBC who are now leading the way into equality – they have recently announced that from now on they will officially consider actors with disabilities for any role they are put up for, whether a disability is stated or not. Of course, they are under no obligation to cast that disabled actor, but it’s a step forward. Mary FitzPatrick, Head of Diversity, has also announced that they will be launching a nationwide talent search for disabled actors, to form a sort of BBC database for casting directors to search for both disabled and ‘abled’ parts. Some may feel this is slightly patronising – giving the poor disabled people their own way in – but they are missing the point here. At least the BBC are actively trying to fight the assumption that disabled people cannot be mainstream actors. Whether this scheme works out remains to be seen, but I would encourage any actors with disabilities reading this to not limit their own casting type – why shouldn’t Shakespeare be played in a wheelchair? Why can’t Stoppard be played with hearing aids in? Who says that Berkoff can’t be performed by an actor with only one arm? Acting is a competitive industry, and yes, being disabled sometimes makes it that little bit harder, but if you have the talent and the determination, then don’t let anyone’s prejudice stand in your way. After all, determination is something disabled people can do very well indeed. ●
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Sarah Clark currently studies Theology at Oxford and is already on the drama school audition circuit.
Ten years after leaving Oxford University, Alexander S. Bermange has one show running in the West End, two more opening in Germany, and a new CD at Dress Circle featuring his songs performed by 26 of the West End’s brightest performers. Life is pretty good, writes Knight Hooson. Bermange has penned original songs and music for Plague over England, the hit play by Nicholas de Jongh playing at the Duchess Theatre. Like the songs he wrote for last year’s Murder on Air (Agatha Christie) the songs play a crucial part in the play. “Although it is not a musical, the music is very much in the foreground. Of course there is background music, but in terms of the songs, they are as important as the spoken text.” Bermange began playing the piano at five but from the beginning he showed a desire to create his own music. “In addition to wanting to play the music set before me by my teachers, I had this urge to not just recreate the work of the great masters, but to try and come up with my own compositions, which at that point were not that impressive, but showed this urgency to try and write my own music.” His first musical was written at 16 and performed at his school. To his surprise, his friends liked it, “they said ‘actually its not half bad, well done mate’ and I thought, ‘okay then, maybe this is something worth pursuing.’” He says he was bit with the musical theatre bug when he saw Chess, and he took the bold step of writing to its lyricist Tim Rice (“I think a lot of this business is about initiative,” he advises). To his surprise, Rice wrote back and a friendship developed. Rice has become a source of inspiration, guidance and support. “He has listened to almost everything I have ever written. He has always been totally honest and very constructive. He isn’t one of those people who say ‘yes darling, it’s marvellous.’ He has become a fantastic champion of my work.” By the time Bermange finished his degree, his work was already being performed by West End performers. “The interesting thing that happened to me when I was at University is that I was starting to dabble in the professional field and I was working with people who were performing in the West End. Something I put on at Oxford got seen by some industry people in London who had taken an interest in my work. People were introducing me to people and so during my last year at University I was getting quite a few airings of my songs by members of the West End fraternity in their solo concerts.” “In terms of the transition from the last month of University to the first month in the profession, the first thing I started doing was working as an accompanist. “ He also appeared on an ITV television programme called Young, Gifted and Broke which showcased new talent in the arts world. In 2000, six months after leaving University, he answered an ad in The Stage and subsequently won a commission to write an original musical for the town of Rotherham in Yorkshire. This first work, Walking on Air, had its debut at the Millenium Dome (now the O2 Centre) in London. This was the start of many more commissions. Much of his full-scale work has been performed in Germany. The German connection results from his third year at University when he took part in a year-long exchange. Here he met and befriended some of his future collaborators. To date, he has written seven musicals for the German market. His work has also been heard in Los Angeles, Austria, Edinburgh and in concerts around the world. His latest recording is called Act One and features 20 of his songs
sung by the cream of the West End. Working with Mike Dixon, one of the Theatreland’s most prolific music directors, they assembled a “wish list” of who they would love to have on the album. “They were all either people that I have worked with, or Mike has worked with, or neither one of us worked with, but we just loved them as audience members. They were the kind of performers who make the hairs on the back of our necks stand on end.” To their great delight, all of them agreed to participate. The result is a fantastic introduction to the range of Bermange’s work. From ballads to anthems, and comedy numbers to bombastic rock numbers, the album shows that Bermange is not afraid to embrace a number of different musical styles. His work has developed a bit of a cult following amongst drama school students. Songs from his previous album Weird & Wonderful have frequently turned up in Showcase performances. Both it and Act One offer a source of interesting new material for students. “Because they are new songs they are not closely associated with one particular performer so they can put their own stamp on them.” He advises performers “to go for songs that not everyone is performing. Really act the song, use the lyrics and think of the character. Sing the song in a way which is particular to the lyrics to the song. Show me from the way that you sing that it is a love song or a song expressing anger or bitterness.” Bermange advises budding writers to “write and keep writing and try to get the work put on in whatever capacity you can. You learn a huge amount by hearing your songs performed and seeing your work on stage.” Where would Bermange like to be in five years time? “Working on a variety of projects and just embracing as wide a range of musical styles as I am capable of. Hopefully, I will still be excited by what I do and the people I work with.” ● Act One is available through www.dresscircle.co.uk
pullingfocus Sam Heughan trained at the Royal Scottish Academy and has since carved a smart career. He was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award before he had even graduated. Phil Matthews talks to one bright young thing. How did you become an actor? I finished school and I was going to do film studies and English. It was something I really wanted to do. I used to go to the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh and watch their shows. I was really interested in it but I wasn’t sure if you could really make a career out of it. Then I went travelling, had time to think and came back and thought I’d give it a go for a couple of years. I joined the Lyceum Youth Theatre which is quite integrated with the main theatre with Kenny Ireland as Artistic Director. I was quite fortunate he cast me in a couple of their shows just as spear carrier in the background. So I got to learn from watching other actors. It really inspired me to apply for drama school.
How did Academy?
Oh I loved it. I think what is quite important for drama students to go where you feel comfortable. It felt right, a good atmosphere. It’s a well supported network and well integrated with the Scottish theatre scene. So we did a lot of productions in relation to the Citizens Theatre or the Tron. I was quite lucky in my second year, I got cast in Outlying Islands at the Traverse Theatre. So fortunately I didn’t actually have to do much in my second and third year because I was away doing this play at the festival.
Outlying Islands then transferred to London to the Royal Court. It was the first play I saw at the Court actually. Oh was it? Wow. I was quite lucky we got to go to Canada with the show and toured Salisbury Playhouse, and then back to Scotland to do a highlands tour.
did the play come about for you half way through training. That’s pretty unusual.
The director Philip Howard came to see us in Romeo and Juliet, our first production for the public. I was playing Romeo and he got me to audition for it. At first I think he was quite weary of casting a student. But the Academy were very supportive.
Did you finish your training? I did go back to the Academy to do one last show there. I managed to get an agent from doing Outlying Islands in London. I then did a drama series for ITV called Island At War which was brilliant, filming in the Isle of Man. It was my first bit of television and it with great actors. It was a really good place to learn and watch actors and just to discover what it’s like to be on set. It’s such a different affair, just learning about the etiquette and how it works.
How did time?
you find working out of sequence for the first
I think we kind of filmed it pretty much chronologically. It did jump around a little bit. I guess you look at a script enough, you plan your journey. It’s just like doing a stage play, you plan it and you can jump in anywhere really. But it is a different experience obviously as you only get to do it once.
Now we have to talk about you playing Young Alexander. That must have been an important milestone. It was a really really really fun time. It was my first film and I was playing
the lead in it, filming out in Egypt and Greece. It was a lot of hard work and long hours, very hot and a lot to contend with. But it was just absolutely wonderful to have such a great character. Then there’s the American side of it, so went out there, got to experience LA. But I haven’t actually seen the film! It was brilliant, doing horse-riding through masses of Egyptian extras. It was like ‘how did I get here?’ Again it was all about the people, like doing a theatre play, you create great relationships.
How did you find America? I fell in love with America. I fell out of love. And now she’s like a… like a good friend (Laughs). I was out there in December actually, testing for a movie, it was quite nice to go back. The first time I went out there, I was wooed by the whole thing and thought how it was an amazing place and anything can happen out there. But it’s also a hard place to go to if you’re not working, but I’ll definitely go back, it’s very exciting. I’m very happy in London at the moment.
Tell me a little bit about the docu-drama A Very British Sex Scandal which you were in. Yeah, that was interesting because it was quite low budget and it was the director’s first bit of writing for drama. He had done a lot of documentary. We weren’t quite sure how it was going to look, but I was really pleased with it. It was to do with the Lord Montagu trail. Himself, Pitt Rivers and Peter Wildeblood were tried for having some sort of clandestine affair with boys coming around to their beach hut in Lord Montagu’s grounds. They denied it and eventually Peter Wildeblood came out and admitted he was gay, and that was the first time anyone of high status.. I mean he was the Royal Correspondent of the Daily Mail, so it was quite shocking at that time when people were being locked up for being homosexual. It’s kind of related to the play I’m doing now.
Plague Over England in the west end. Yeah, it revolves around John Gielgud being arrested for soliciting in a public lavatory. It has changed a little bit from the Finbrough production, obviously a new cast, we’ve got Michael Feast who is brilliant as Gielgud. We’ve all had to rediscover it, with some of the cast that were in it originally. It changed in the first few weeks, it’s different place being in the west end to being in a smaller, almost fringe venue, but it’s been an interesting piece to do.
is Nicholas De in rehearsals?
involved was he
Nick was in pretty much the first two weeks and maybe the last week of rehearsals. He was obviously very proud, I’m not saying precious, but definitely it’s something that’s very close to him. I certainly think some of the characters are taken from his life or from people he knew. So he wanted it to be right. Like with David Greig, he was in rehearsals for Outlying Islands, and was making huge rewrites every day, almost adjusted the character to suit you. Bits of things you said, end up in the play, which was amazing. But yeah, Nick was in, but he sat back and if we needed him for clarification, it was more about the period or the etiquette, trying to find the authenticity of the piece. I think he’s trying to get it made into a movie as well. Michael Sheen for John Gielgud!!
Yes! Another impression… (Laughing) Exactly. ● Plague Over England and Outlying Islands
Pohto: Vanessa Valentine
A Troop of Strolling Players Are we... into the profession
Touring is an important part of an actor’s existence Daniella Gibb describes the pleasures and pitfalls in the life of a travelling player. “A rat!” I screamed jumping onto the kitchen side-board in my pyjamas “That was a *%$!!%!* rat!” Our breakfast had just been interrupted by a furry rodent that was (and I’m not exaggerating) bigger than a man’s size 12 shoe as it sped across the floor into the shower room. My two housemates warily followed armed with broom and saucepan to the sounds of Stevie Wonder (they thought Stevie would soothe the rodent into a false sense of security) leaving me to phone the landlord to inform him there wasn’t a hope in hell he would be receiving the rent.
Welcome to the world of touring digs! When you get a job on a tour, you are given a “digs list.” It can vary from a sheet of paper to a big file listing accommodation in each venue and it’s up to you to book places, trying to stay within your “subsistence” (an amount added to your wages to cover travel and accommodation). “Great” you think, “how helpful the company is”. But just wait. Some of these lists were compiled years ago with not all digs still available or with landlords that are still alive and your subsistence has to cover rent plus any train tickets or petrol costs. So it can prove to be tough especially as you can’t view anywhere beforehand. It’s basically a lucky dip! Your options are either choosing a room in a private home (this is cheap and good if you like living alone, but bear in mind sharing bathrooms
intotheprofession and kitchens and often plenty of pets), or finding a flat to share with other company members. This can be great fun but hard to know during rehearsals which company members will be good friends and who you will want to sell into slavery three months into the contract. My “Rat House” as it has become known was in Belfast. We knew it was on a very exclusive road and got very excited seeing all the grand houses as we drove past in a cab. However, our big posh house hadn’t seen paint since the 1930s; in short it was a slum! We decided to make do as it was only for a month. So my fabulous house mate Chris created a lounge out of curtains and tea-lights and we all built beds out of random frames and mattresses lying around but when that furry rodent appeared, our Dunkirk spirit vanished and we were out of there! I had a similar experience in Edinburgh. Now Edinburgh is known for its beautiful digs – I’d previously stayed in a gorgeous flat opposite The Playhouse Theatre where I could have happily lived forever but at Festival time it all changes. Accommodation is scarce and in high demand so I ended up in another desolate house that had been left to decay. Broken windows and a bathroom that wouldn’t look out of place at Ron Burgundy’s house in Anchorman. I’ve also stayed in peoples’ houses. When recently in Dartford I realized that my plans to commute were a bit hopeful when doing two shows everyday so I managed to find a room nearby with a friendly guy. However, he was mid-refurbishment and so I had his daughter’s room. She is 5 and likes pink. REALLY likes pink. So by day I was boyish Peter Pan and by night I was curled up in my single-bed with a pink Princess duvet next to my pink fairy castle! An Australian friend of mine endured a single-bed with iridescent satin sheets circa 1974 whilst touring. Sounds bearable, but when you take into account that the bottom bedposts were 2 inches shorter than the top ones – sleeping on a shiny slide and waking up on the floor every morning got pretty tiresome! You never know whose house you may end up in. If you visit Northampton my friend Greg warns you against staying with a certain gentleman whose tall townhouse is lit by murky 30 watt bulbs with devil door knockers and classics on his bookshelf such as Satan Is Your Friend hiding in the shadows!!! I’m painting a daunting picture but please be reassured that there are some nice places too. I stayed with a wonderful family in the picturesque village of Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire (sounds like something out of a Jane Austen novel doesn’t it?!). They made me feel so welcome that I still visit them. Many landlords bend over backwards to make you feel at home cooking for you, bringing morning cuppas and some even drive you to work! There are some truly lovely and interesting people to meet so I would recommend taking time for a chat and making the most of every town you visit because you will always discover something new. (For example the karaoke taxis found in Belfast and Grimsby – hours of fun!) Another quick note to remember - you only need to find digs when touring the UK. If you work abroad (including Southern Ireland) then the company should organise and pay for your accommodation. This often means staying in hotels which is brilliant fun so if you get a job offer like that DO IT, DO IT, DO IT! I have many fond memories of wearing pyjamas down to breakfast and having parties in people’s rooms although on returning home I couldn’t work out why somebody else wasn’t cleaning my bathroom everyday! So what do I advise potential “travelling players”? You need determine where the line is for “making-do” in less than perfect digs and know when it’s better for your health/peace of mind to find somewhere else. The length of your stay can affect this but you’ll soon learn the difference between quirky digs and what is unacceptable. Try to book up your accommodation as soon as you can. It is best to be as organized as possible because there is nothing worse than panicking and rushing when you are already mid-rehearsals and need to focus on other things. Oh! And the most common factor from all my digs is that I’m often freezing so a hot water bottle, dressing gown and bed socks need pride of place in your suitcase! So get organized and if you sense that a call to the local health department or sanatorium is required, MOVE OUT, but most of all enjoy the many new experiences and people that are just waiting to meet you! ●
a three-act theatrical journey Knight Hooson looks at the origins and history of Spring Awakening and how it made the journey into London’s West End. Prologue – Germany
Scene 2 – Broadway
Frank Wedekind is born in Hanover in 1864 and writes his first play, Spring Awakening – A Children’s Tragedy, in 1891. Knowing that a realistic play about the blooming sexuality of adolescents which includes masturbation, abortion, rape and suicide would not meet favour with the German censors, Wedekind arranges to have the play published privately. In 1906 a heavily-censored version of Spring Awakening opens in Berlin directed by the great German director Max Reinhardt and runs for over 600 performances.
After further rehearsals, Spring Awakening opens on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in December 2006. The critic’s praise is electric: “Broadway may never be the same!” says the New York Times. “An unexpected jolt of sudden genius,” judges the New York Post. The show is nominated for, and wins, several awards at the 2007 Tony Awards, Drama Desk Awards, and Drama League Awards. A cast album is released and wins a 2008 Grammy Award. After 29 previews and 859 performances, Spring Awakening closes on Broadway on January 18, 2009.
Act 1 – New York | Scene 1- Off-Broadway Steven Sater (book and lyrics) was long a fan of Spring Awakening. To him the idea of parents suffocating their children with their middleclass values was as relevant in the 1990’s as it had been in the 1890’s. After the shootings at Columbine High School (April 20, 1999), a story of teenagers acting out against oppression suddenly seemed even more relevant. In the preface to their playscript, Sater writes, “Wedekind’s play is full of the unheard, anguished cries of young people. It struck me that pop music – rock music – is the exact place that adolescents for the last few generations have found release from, and expression of, that same mute pain.” Sater teamed up with Duncan Sheik (a Grammy Award- nominated singer-songwriter) and Michael Mayer (a Tony Award-nominated director) to bring an indie-rock sensibility to a 19th century play in order to unleash its anguish for a modern teenage audience. They spent eight years working and reworking the piece, finding a way that felt right for them to make the piece sing. Through many setbacks, they stayed true to their vision until the piece finally premiered Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company in June 2006. Spring Awakening received favourable reviews and excellent audience response during its two month run at the Atlantic. The producers decided to take the show to Broadway.
Act 2 – London, Lyric Hammersmith | Scene 1 – Casting The American producers, flush with the success of Broadway, decide to bring the show to London. However, rather than charging straight into the West End, they decide to test the show out in a smaller venue. After discussions with David Farr, then Artistic Director of the beautiful and intimate Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, it is deemed the ideal venue for Spring Awakening’s London debut. Pippa Ailion is announced as the casting director and a lengthy search begins to find a talented young cast to bring the show to London. Gemma O’Duffy, dance captain and swing in the London production, first auditioned in November 2007. After about eight rounds of auditions over many months she was invited to a week-long workshop where two to three people were up for each role. After the workshop, the creative team chose their London cast. For the actors, many of whom had spent a year auditioning for the show, they finally learned whether they were cast or not. How did Gemma feel when she got the good news? “It was really strange because with the Facebook generation everybody was finding out [and posting their results] so I could see who was getting the job or not and I was quite late in the day to find out. I was thinking ‘oh my god!’ So when I got the call I was really relieved! It was relief and excitement that the year’s work had actually gone towards something and I was
coverstory actually going to be involved in it.”
Scene 2 – Rehearsals Starting in December 2008, the cast had six weeks of rehearsals to prepare for their Lyric Hammersmith debut. “The first week we didn’t even move,” O’Duffy remembers. “We sat down and went through the script and went through the history of Germany and all the things which actually went on back then, which was really good to know to put you back there and to understand these kids, because it’s very different to how we live now. It’s very important to the piece that we live those characters as they were back then.” For the majority of the cast this was their first professional experience, and some had never had formal drama school training, so there was a lot of “hands on” help available to them. Ballet lessons and voice consultations were arranged in order to help develop some core skills. It wasn’t an exact replica of the New York production. For one thing, the American accents were swapped for English ones and there was room in rehearsal to explore and find new things. However, the basic structure, set and blocking is consistent to what was on Broadway.
Scene 3 – Opening night Chris Barton, swing and assistant dance captain, tells of their opening night. “It was amazing! We had waited a year for this, because we had been auditioning for a year – a year of panic whether we would get it or not - so to finally open at the Lyric was just…electric.” The cast received a standing ovation and the buzz started to build. The London papers were ecstatic about the Lyric production. The Daily Telegraph gave it five stars and said “here it is at last, the answer to one’s prayers – a new musical bursting with ambition and achievement that doesn’t owe its existence to a back catalogue of pop hits or an old movie.” As the Lyric sold out its run and the favourable reviews began to pile up, London producers began to circle to arrange a West End transfer.
Act 3 – London’s West End, Novello Theatre Scene 1 – Opening night “The reception was immense,” says O’Duffy of the West End opening, “I mean even more so than the Lyric and it was absolutely packed. Everyone was a bit shocked that this had happened. “ Barton adds, “it doesn’t feel real. Even now I have to pinch myself and say ‘I am actually doing this,’ ‘cause this is what I’ve waited for all my life, this big West End show, and finally it came. I think that is how the whole cast are feeling now – still in shock that they are actually in it.”
Scene 2 – Marketing a hit The show has actively embraced the new phenomenon of ‘social networking’ to connect with their audience. Luke Shires, who works with Producer Michael McCabe, explains, “they were looking for any way to go to the right demographic, very specifically a young demographic, but saying ‘I think you’ll like this’ and interacting with them, which is what Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, MySpace and YouTube allows you to do.” “It allows you to present what this show is, give them an insight, give them footage, give them photos, and give them cast blogs. Using the website to give them a way to interact with the show, instead of hard and fast trying to sell to them. It has worked incredibly well and social networking has been a real key aspect to this production.” This is coupled with a “youth ticket” (supported by Virgin Atlantic) which allows any 15-19 to get a top price ticket for £20.
COMPETITION 1 Do you want to interview the cast of Spring Awakening for the basis of an article? We have a very special opportunity for one lucky winner to see the show with a friend, interview the cast beforehand and have their article printed in the summer issue. Email your five best questions to firstname.lastname@example.org The winner will be the person that expresses most creativity.
COMPETITION 2 We’ve got 9 pairs of tickets to give away to see Spring Awakening. Just answer this question correctly: Who wrote the original play Spring Awakening – A Children’s Tragedy? Email the answer and your full name, address and daytime telephone number to email@example.com For full terms and conditions, visit www.thedramastudent.co.uk
Scene 3 – The future The show is currently booking until the end of October. Word of mouth is spreading, and the cast are settling in for what everyone hopes will be a long life for Spring Awakening in the West End. “It’s thriving here,” says Shire, “and in a way that we all hoped it would thrive here.”
Epilogue Spring really has erupted in the West End with the talent and energy of a young cast pouring their hearts out nightly onstage at the Novello. I imagine Frank Wedekind has a good old laugh in his grave every night as the cast pulls out their hand-mikes and rock out to “it’s the bitch of living!” ●
OVER THERE, OVER Here Words by Josh Boyd-Rochford
Poor Mrs Worthington. Thanks to ‘The Master’ we’ll forever imagine her as that dreadful creation – the ‘stage mother’; like pushy Mama Rose screeching “Sing out, Louise”; the stage mother lives vicariously through her darling daughter, oblivious to her lack of talent. One imagines that there are no pushy stage mothers behind Patina Miller and Bonnie Hurst, two of London’s current leading ladies – these young women are talented, beautiful, “triple threats” who can very definitely sing and dance, and they are poised to seize the limelight. Miller and Hurst are both 24 years old, both recent graduates, and both leading ladies in talked about, hotly anticipated shows. But despite the similarities, it is the differences in their careers that reveal there’s
According to Noël Coward, Mrs Worthington’s daughter; “…hasn’t got a chance, in addition to which The son of a bitch can neither sing nor dance,”
more than one route to the top. American Miller will soon play Deloris van Cartier, the lead role made famous by Whoopi Goldberg, in Sister Act. Once a blockbuster movie, it has now made the transition to stage musical and it’s coming from across the pond, to settle in at The Palladium. British actor Hurst meanwhile, takes the stage in a production of Zanna Don’t, the cult musical that is coming to new fringe venue The Space for a limited season. Both productions open in May, but they couldn’t be more different. Big boxoffice vs. the Independent theatre scene; massive media coverage vs. word of mouth. The deviations between the two shows are vast, but for the two actresses preparing to razzle dazzle, the excitement and
closeup anticipation are the same. “Who would have thought a girl from South Carolina would be in London, aged 24, doing what she loves to do?” laughs Miller. “I had a lot of people tell me that I couldn’t do it, that it was just a dream, but you know what? You can live your dream.” Living the dream is something that Patina Miller seems born to do. Her ascendancy; drama school, ensemble in an out-of-town show, small part in a soap, lead in an Off-Broadway production to West End leading lady seems to have been accomplished with dazzling speed. At the age when most drama school graduates have just started doing the rounds of auditions and hoping for their big break, Miller has been catapulted into a whole new league. But like most ‘overnight sensations’ the road here has already been a long one. “I started really young. I come from a very musical family,” she recalls, “I grew up wanting to sing a lot, watching TV as a child and singing along, putting on my own shows. When I was in the fourth grade [around 9-10 years] my mother put me in a summer programme and we did plays there, musicals and stuff and that’s where I think I knew I really wanted to do this for a career and not just for fun.” Miller went on to study musical theatre at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon, in Pittsburgh. “Carnegie was amazing for me, the school was a university as well as a performing arts conservatory, so although we were at drama school and we were training, we also got to go out into the University and take classes”. Like musical theatre students in the UK, Miller’s training was geared to creating the ‘triple-threat’ performer; Singer, Actor, Dancer. “There was an emphasis on acting, with dancing and singing on top,” Miller explains, “Nowadays, you know, you gotta be good at all three. It’s better if you can move and sing and dance. I just think it’s so important to train the gift you’ve got. Going to school and being with people like me was really good for me.” Carnegie Mellon’s vigorous four-year course, ended in a showcase, with a great response from the industry for the young Miller. By this stage she’d already been seen for the Dreamgirls movie and although she wasn’t cast in that, it did help to secure her an agent. She went straight from graduation into a brand new muscial. “I did Sister Act!” she explodes, laughing. “Straight into the ensemble, understudying Deloris. I was with Sister Act for about six months, staying in hotels in LA and Atlanta.” Sounds glamorous? “All non-Equity – Lovely!” she deadpans with amusement, “It was all worth it though. Sister Act really opened me up. It was my first job, I was away from home, I was the youngest in the company and it just made me want to work more. I got back to the city, did a soap opera, All My Children, and then did the musical Hair in Central Park.” And then to London? “I’d heard that Sister Act was going to be playing in London and I thought ‘Oh, that’s really great – when it comes to New York I want to be part of it again’, so I emailed the director and just said ‘That’s great news’. I got an email back which said ‘Are you
around?’ and I was like, ‘I can be if you want me to be.’” Miller tells her story with relish. Even though we both know what the outcome was, she teases it along, drawing out the suspense. “Finally, he tells me he wants me to come to London!” No! Really? It turned out that, during Sister Act’s tryouts, Miller had gone on for Deloris for one performance, and the director had happened to see that show. It’s classic Hollywood musical fare, understudy plucked from the chorus and propelled to stardom. In Miller’s case however, she still had to wait a couple of years until she was ‘propelled to stardom’. “So, he said, ‘you might be too young for the role’” continues the story, “And I thought, I’m going to prove to him that’s not so. I got to London and it worked out really well.” Indeed, the rest, one might say, is history. Now Miller is preparing for her leading role in a legendary West End venue. And appearing alongside stalwarts like Sheila Hancock and Ian Lavender who have both been effusive in their praise for the young star. How does Miller feel about the British company? “You know what?” she whispers, “I don’t know what is in the water over here, but you guys sing and work here! You people are all so talented and everyone is so generous. Back home, there are always three other people who think they can do your part, you know what I mean? Here, everyone is so nice, there’s none of that atmosphere – and I’ll tell you, it’s a much better way of working.” And what of the show itself? To the jaded theatregoer, it does seem that we are saturated with one jukebox musical after another, and the current vogue for turning successful movies into musicals shows no sign of abating – watch out for Legally Blonde and Ghost coming our way. In a global recession, when musicals are closing left right and centre, on Broadway and in the West End, what makes Sister Act stand out? “It’s brand new. There’s no music from the film, it’s a new, hot, disco score by Alan Menken” enthuses Miller, displaying the life and vivacity that surely captured Whoopi Goldberg’s eye. “It’s a really uplifting score. If you love the songs from the movies, you’ll love these songs. It’s about faith, about finding yourself, about being who you are, standing up for yourself, enjoying life, enjoying what you do. I don’t think I’ve ever done a show where I love every single song – it just gets better and better and people are going to love it.” There’s no doubting that Miller’s success so far has been well deserved, but she is the first to admit that such a swift rise is not the usual way. “My story was different, you know? But this is what I want to do and no one is going to tell me I can’t. My advice is you just can’t take no for answer. Just keep going and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.” Another 24-year-old actress who isn’t going to let anyone tell her that she can’t, Bonnie Hurst, tells a story that is similar in it’s determination, but so far has taken a relatively different route. “I went to a local dance school from the age of 4 and it was all I ever wanted to do,” says Hurst, echoing Miller. However, rather than going
Patina Miller in rehearsals and promotion for Sister Act at the London Palladium
straight through drama school, circumstances forced Hurst to take a different path. “The best decision I made was to do a BTEC course in Performing Arts at The Henley College, a local FE college. That really focussed me, and then I got a place on the BA course at ArtsEd, but I had to leave after a term, as I couldn’t secure the funding. I got offers from Mountview and Guildford but I didn’t get their DADA’s so in the end I went the University route, doing an HND in Musical Theatre and then a BA (Hons.) in Applied Performing Arts at Buckinghamshire New University.” After her BA Hurst won a place at Mountview on the Post Grad course, and was awarded the Sir John Mills Scholarship. “The most obvious difference between a PG and a BA is money,” Hurst states matter-of-factly. “With the PG course, you halve the costs. The other difference is time; the training is really intensive. I think being older helps too because you’ve already done the University, partying life. You focus 100% on your training. I also had more life experience to draw upon.” Like her contemporary at Carnegie Mellon, Hurst underwent intensive training in all three disciplines. “It was exhausting!” she laughs. “My weekends consisted of sleeping! The thing I loved about Mountview was that everything grew from the acting; we were actors who could sing and dance. I found the dance classes the most challenging aspect of the course.” Choosing a drama school was easy. “Mountview stood out for me. People have this perception that MT performers can just sing and dance and I knew that Mountview wasn’t like that. I knew they put acting at the centre.” After a year of intensive training, Hurst went through her showcase and then her graduation show. “Nothing prepares you for the stress of showcase!” she exclaims. “In the bar, no one approached me. Afterwards, I went home and buried my head in the pillow. To be honest, I was gutted and thought that was the end, all the training had been for nothing, but by the end of the week I’d had eight or nine phone calls. I followed up each call with interviews but decided to wait until my final show before signing. As soon as I met the agent I have now I knew I had to sign with them. It was important to me that I had an agent I could call for a general chat as well as one who had the same goals as I did.” Unlike Miller though, the work didn’t exactly flood in. “It was quite disheartening when other people were getting called for auditions and I wasn’t, but slowly they started to happen. I’ve completed two short films and am about to do Zanna Don’t at The Space. I’m also in rehearsals for Tick Tick…Boom! in Oxford – other than that I’ve been working parttime and have joined the gym to keep up my fitness level!” There’s an expectation that one goes to drama school, gets signed up and then goes into a West End show. It’s somehow thought that’s the norm rather than the exception. It’s this misconception that can leave many young graduates stumbling at the first post straight out of training. “I knew I would have to be really, really very lucky for that to happen to me. It’s the exception rather than the rule. There’s a lot of decent work out there, tours, regional theatres, fringe…I’m willing to do it all. I found Zanna Don’t on the Internet site Castingcall Pro. I play Roberta, a feisty but loveable waitress. It’s a great part to play because she’s funny and vulnerable. Plus she has some great songs.” Zanna Don’t is one of those cult shows that have really excited everyone in the industry – those who’ve known about it for the last few years have been dying to see it in London. It has an impressive string of Drama Desk nominations, and an audience award for favourite offBroadway show. Remarkably for a fringe show, it had sold out some performances even before rehearsals had started and has already had to extend it’s run. So for now, Hurst is working and happy, but what does she see in her future? “Well, it would be great to see Zanna Don’t transfer to a bigger venue. I’m auditioning and we’ll see what happens. I’ve always said I’d like to be just working as a professional actress. If I can find work doing what I love and it pays the bills, that’s a bonus.” Like Miller, Hurst is down to earth, passionate and driven, and has plenty of advice to share. “Be proactive,” she insists. “Don’t just sit back and rely on your agent, if you have one. Get PCR, join Castingcall Pro, CastNet, read The Stage, apply for things yourself. Stay happy! You go through periods where there is no work; it’s nothing to do with your talent. Don’t give up!” And above all, be grateful your mother ignored Noël Coward’s advice. ● www.sisteractthemuscial.com www.zannadont.co.uk
Miller with Whoopi Goldberg; Bonnie Hurst (centre)
© Pete Bartlett 2008
webmarketing In April 1999 actor Patrick Warrington and businessman Rodney Watney found themselves around a table in the Chelsea Arts Club conceiving the first fully internet based casting information service for performers and agents. Ten years later CastWeb retains its position as the leading specialist provider of casting opportunities in the UK. Many industry professionals will tell you that the most important thing for a graduating performer to do, is secure a reputable and established agent. Those actors that remain unrepresented as they embark on their career will need to maintain this as a priority. Reputable agents will only take on unknown actors after first having seen their work and therein lies the perennial problem; how do you secure the job that an agent can judge you by, if you don’t have an agent in the first place? As importantly, how do you keep the wolf from the door whilst you’re looking? “CastWeb by no means provides the complete answer to this problem, but we’re a vital tool to this end,” says Warrington, “Our emphasis remains on providing multiple, daily, paid work opportunities, clearly edited, simply presented and delivered by e-mail to the professional performer within minutes of the brief being released .. and all for the cost of a pack of chewing gum per day”. Rather than adding content and options to an all singing and dancing website, CastWeb has chosen to keep their basic news update service simple and places the greater importance on developing personal relationships with an ever expanding and altering profile of casting directors and production companies. “We are a news service at CastWeb providing hard and fast casting opportunities, we’re not a dating site. What you see is what you get”, says Watney. “We draw our castings and auditions from contacts in
both the UK and overseas and the briefest look at our testimonials and a cross check with the casting credits on IMDB, will show anyone the calibre of those that use the service.” Ultimately, once CastWeb has delivered the casting notice, the actor has full control over how they present themselves for the roles offered. CastWeb holds that the actor should be able to present and express themselves in their own way and not be forced through a system wholly owned and managed by the service they happen to be using at the time. “We try not to exercise too much control, once the performer is sent the casting notice they are then directly in touch with the casting director regarding that specific role. “Any subsequent communication can take place without the need for any third party getting in the way,” says Warrington. As the recession bites, screen and stage production has seen an alarming slow down in recent months, with the inevitable increase in competition for roles. CastWeb believes that actors will continue to condense their budgets to encompass only the best tools for promoting themselves and finding work. “I remember a chat I had with commercials casting director Malcom Bullivant just after our launch in 1999,” says Warrington. “I was voicing my insecurities as to how things might go for the fledgling business and what more we needed to do to impress our subscribers, Malcom just said “Do what you enjoy doing and do it better than anyone else.” So we’ve taken him at his word!” ●
by Michael Culkin
So where was I, ah yes, last collum’s bullet point FOCUS! I was 18 and out on tour with Charles Dance and Linda Thorson. Perfectly focused you might guess except I was an ASM not an actor. If I was to work as an actor, I would need training. I was living in Bath so The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School was on my list along with Central and RADA. Bristol gave you the option of a first round audition and if successful, a call back for a weekend-school, or, in a practice that has since died out, you could opt for a gruelling 40 min interview with the Principal Nat Brenner. Everyone opted for the former, I went for the interview, if only to get the possible pain of refusal over with quickly. I have always chosen the path less trodden, bullet point 2: CPLT (with apologies to Robert Frost, don’t ask look him up) Whilst living and working in Los Angeles in the early 90’s, I mentored a number of aspiring actors. Bright young things arrive daily to make their way ‘in the business in the sunshine’. There is however not the tradition of established drama schools and many young actors forge their training from ‘taking classes”. These classes are well subscribed, extremely popular, and numerous. LA is a very generous town, here dreams come true, you really could be spotted carrying an armchair- John Wayne, or serving coffeeKathleen Turner or washing cars- John Travolta. This was a town of Black Swan possibilities, even for me, I ended up with a deal at Tri Star writing for the indefatigable Dan Melnic, producer of Footloose, and Roxanne. (The Black Swan Nassim Talebs bestseller on the impact of the highly improbable) A young aspiring actor asked for advice regarding a class he was considering. The tutor had a track record, so his blurb said, for spotting and nurturing future stars. I told him CPLT. I explained that if he chose the path of classes, waiting table and managers, and all the welltrodden-avenues to his chosen career, he would be focussing, along with thousands of hopefuls across the town, on the same path, his! On the other hand if he patrolled the town alert to being discovered, his antennae highly tuned, his focus like steel and his hope bubbling over, he would be one among millions who did NOT all want what he wanted. AND he could benefit from the variety of forces and chances thrown up by life as opposed to a career path. This scared the hell out of him. It was so chancy. It relied on what he could not control. Well yeah, you can see my answer coming round the bend, if you don’t like chancy you shouldn’t get into this business. CPLT allows life to interfere. CPLT allows fate, surprise and serendipity to act upon you. For those of you who might be a little stuck. Uncertain. No agent yet, or no place at college. CPLT! Change your rhythm. Alter what you always do. Take a different route: to college, to work, to the pub, or better still don’t go to the pub, try the park, an art gallery, get out into life. Don’t mistake the rut you might be in for the horizon! Back in 1972 I CPLT’d and had my 40 minutes, in fact 90, and I walked out of Nat’s office with a place at The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, which I promptly accepted, never even trying for the others. Lack of focus meant that I was just thrilled the school wanted me, not that it was the right place for me. Mind you CPLT meant that I found my diaphragm under the piano and I would not be working today without that. Back in LA that young actor struggled but finally gave in to security over chance and became very successful as a ‘personal trainer’ to the stars, never missing what he never got perhaps because he was never truly focussed on CPLT after all. I wrote a movie for Tri Star with the extraordinary choreographer Twyla Tharpe and got paid for it. Just another odd turn in my own path less trodden! ●
voiceovers actors toolbox There you are, a keen, fresh-faced young drama student with the west end, Hollywood or an episode of The Bill beckoning you from around the corner. From the stalls or the armchair I’ll be cheering you on, writes Peter Walton. But just for the moment, I want to talk to you about an area of professional work that you might not have thought about – spoken-word recording. I used to be a BBC executive producer, and I now run “Motivation Studio” - a leading spoken-word recording studio, so I know what I’m talking about. In my studio we record audio books (over 7,000 so far) and dramas, many of them for BBC Radio 3 and 4. We record language courses – mainly for learners of English, but also for other languages. We record radio programmes – discussions and talks, as well as talking guides for museums and galleries and walks around cities. We also record ‘motivational’ CDs for corporate training – hence the name of the studio. And we record voice-overs for films and TV, and voices for animation, games and ADR (where you replace one voice with another, or get the same actor to re-record). And for all these things we work with actors. Or put it another way – working here with us is a way that many actors, if they are lucky, earn part of their living. And not just any old actor… A few who have recorded here recently include, in no particular order, Maxime Peake, Jonathan Pryce, Timothy Spall, Juliet Stevenson, Kenneth Branagh, Emilia Fox, Stephen Fry, Brian Blessed, Derek Jacobi, Maureen Lipman, Miriam Margolis, and so on and on. I mention them by name because you’ll have noticed that they are people who probably don’t have to do jobs that they don’t like. The fact is that they actually want to come and work here. It may not sound as glamorous as being on TV or at the National, but these people all do good & enjoyable work here, in a professional and satisfying way, collaborating closely on a text with fellow professionals and first-class producers and engineers, who together craft the end product. Be it a classic of world literature or a 30’ second radio appeal for a charity. It doesn’t tie actors down in terms of time either, as it’s quite possible to fit an odd day into the busiest of schedules. I have a good friend who works here a lot – a very experienced actor and he has done it all, RSC, Radio 4, TV and Rep. I was sympathising with him, because he had just spent the eighth of ten days in our smallest studio, reading solo one of Charles Dickens’ longest novels. He brushed my commiserations aside. ‘Nonsense’ he said ‘this is the best job in the world for an actor. I’m playing 41 different parts. I am EVERYONE!’ He could have added that the production will live on in the repertory, for many years, because no-one else is likely to tackle that particular Everest in a hurry.
So, while you are still training, I want you to think very carefully about your radio voice. You will know of course that it is very different from your stage voice. It is usually a very intimate voice, because you are probably speaking to one person – either the other person in the conversation, or direct to the listener - unless you are appearing in a big classic radio drama. I want you to think about how you address the listener through the microphone, about how you subtly modulate your voice to achieve the effect and convey the information that your face and body would convey on the stage or on television. It is a lot harder. OK, you don’t have to learn your lines, but I assure you that you have to know the part – you really have to prepare. I’ve come across a couple of gifted sight-readers, but more often I’ve seen actors leave a recording in a very embarrassed state because they hadn’t prepared. (And those actors are much less likely to be asked back, in a crowded profession). So, if you are lucky and any good, you may spend some of your time in a speech-recording studio and now, whilst you are still a student, is the best time to prepare yourself for it and to make yourself, as they say, the best that you can be! Practice reading aloud, practice sight-reading (directors often unfairly will throw a page at you in an audition – ask for a minute to read it through though!). Get some training in a studio, work out what you are good at and what sort of voice-work you want to do, and then make a voice demo disc. You’ll need this to send to producers and directors, or to have on Spotlight, or your agent’s website. Don’t be tempted to cut corners and do this yourself on your home tape-recorder, and don’t be tempted to go to a music studio. They do a different job. Go to a professional spoken-word studio and get it done properly. The right place will give you sensible advice, make sure that you sound good, take out any extraneous mouth noises and breaths (learn to speak without those noises if you can) and present you with a polished finished product. You don’t have to come to my studio for this – you’ll find advertisements for other studios in this magazine, or you can just look on the internet for somewhere local, reasonably priced and professional. But I look forward to seeing you at Motivation Studio one fine day. ● Telephone: 020 7328 8305 Web: www.motivationsound.co.uk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Voice Heard It’s no secret that there’s often big money to be made as a professional voiceover artist and while the broadcast and multimedia sectors continue to flourish in spite of the current economic climate, the market for new voices seeking work has never been so crowded. “It’s no longer enough to call an agent and tell them that you’re the hottest new acting talent with a great voice” says Alex Mee from showreel production company Hotreels. “They’re busy people, often managing hundreds of clients and their time is extremely precious. As an aspiring voice, you only have a couple of minutes to grab their attention and first impressions really do matter”. The best way to make that impression count is to have a showreel made. A showreel is a voiceover artist’s CV, it should show the strengths and the range of an actors voice, as well as showing that the actor is a professional. Emma Harvey, director of leading agency Harvey Voices, receives dozens of showreels each week and says that the key to getting noticed is simply presentation. “To stand out you need a well-packaged reel that plays to your strengths. Don’t try lots of different accents or character voices just for the sake of it - be true to yourself and let your natural personality shine through”. Which is why you need a production company that will tailor the reel to an actor’s abilities and needs, a company that uses the best possible resources from scriptwriters to recording studios. A company very much like Hotreels. Telephone: 020 7952 4362 Web: www.hotreels.co.uk Email: email@example.com
SonicPond is small project studio based in Islington, that specialises in creating promotional material for actors and singers. Voicereels, video showreels, websites and musical theatre demos are all individually crafted for each client by the studio producer, Martin Fisher. The focus is on a personal one-to-one service, that both reassures and guides the actor, and produces the highest quality work possible to get the actor noticed. Nothing is ever rushed, and every chance is taken to provide support and encouragement to the actor, both in preparation for the project and afterwards. Free consultations are part of the service, whether it be voicereels, showreels or websites, so that the actor is put at ease and provided with all the guidance they could need, ensuring the final product is as unique and personal to them as possible. Martin is very aware that most people who come to him arrive with very little experience of voice work, and so hand picks material along with the actor, and directs every piece over the full day of recording with great detail. He is also aware that voicereels need to stand out from the crowd, and so spends many hours editing each one, adding sound effects and music to make the final reel as dynamic, contemporary and entertaining as possible.
Telephone: 020 7690 8561 Web: www.sonicpond.co.uk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Come and record your VOICE DEMO at one of the most experienced spoken word sound studios in London! Motivation Sound is the ﬁrst choice of many major production companies for a wide range of recordings, including BBC radio dramas, documentaries, language courses & audio books.
For further information or to arrange a booking call 020 7328 8305 or email
2 ho time urs of st udio and to re oﬀer master cord, ed your i inclu dem t de 1 CD s sound o. The engi mas 4x3 te neer 0 , for S -second r, and potl e x tract ight s mem bers £120 .
When and Bursary?
how did you decide to apply for
The Alan Bates
We received a circular e-mail at drama school, which was the first I knew of the bursary. I, like most of my year, thought it would be too good an opportunity to miss so applied straight away.
Tell us about your audition and how you were told you had won. The audition process was, at first, reminiscent of applying for drama schools again. For the first round, everyone was asked to prepare a two-minute speech and then paired up with someone to sight-read a scene-both performed to a panel. The second round was a group of 20 workshopping exerpts of complex texts (Beckett and Shakespeare) with Matthew Lloyd and the third round was back to the speech and scene in front of a panel consisting of Matthew, Frances Barber and Alex Jennings. The whole thing from start to finish was great fun and an opportunity rarely afforded to meet the graduates from other drama schools who are in the same position as you.
How important do you feel bursaries such as these are for young actors? I think practical bursaries like the Alan Bates are absolutely imperative for young actors entering the industry. This bursary in particular, provides an opportunity to expand and develop the skills learned, or not yet learned, at drama school, via more-or-less unlimited access to The Actors Centre and it’s people and resources.
How has The Alan Bates Bursary worked for you? For me, the Alan Bates Bursary has taken away a great amount of the anxiety so synonymous with graduating into such a competetive industry. Having the ‘safety net’ of The Actors Centre has meant that I have had no need to worry about the inevitable fallow periods between acting jobs, because I have had an exciting, creative place to use as an outlet, to meet people, and to continue to improve in my craft.
What advice would you give to a young graduate thinking of applying this year?
Luke Norris trained at The Central School of Speech and Drama on the BA Acting course and was the recipient of the annual Alan Bates Bursary 2008. He talks to TDS about this important award.
Do. However busy you are, whatever workload you have on at the point of application, apply. The school year will be over before you know it and when it is you’ll wish you had £1,000 worth of Actors Centre classes to embark on. Besides anything else, it’ll be the most fun you have in an audition this year. ●
Luke is currently in the West End transfer of ‘War Horse’ from the National Theatre and will be touring ‘Days of Significance’ for the RSC from October.
graduate profile The Alan Bates Bursary 2009 Sir Alan Bates was the Patron of the Actors Centre from 1994 until his death in 2004. He cared passionately about the craft of acting and about the cause of young actors entering the profession. The Alan Bates Bursary was endowed to commemorate his inspirational work on behalf of the Actors Centre and will be awarded annually to an actor of exceptional talent. The recipient will be selected from audition and interview by a panel of judges which will be chaired by Matthew Lloyd, Artistic Director of the Actors Centre. Previous judges have included Richard Wilson, Alex Jennings, Frances de la Tour, Frances Barber and Janet Suzman. The Bursary is open to any actor under the age of thirty, graduating in 2009 from an NCDT accredited BA Acting course or an NCDT accredited 2 year diploma in Acting.
• • • • • •
The Bursary is worth £2000 and comprises: Membership of the Actors Centre for 1 year Sponsored priority participation in workshops from the Actors Centre programme to the value of £1,000. Spotlight and Casting Call Pro subscription Subsidies to cover headshots, showreels, and voice demos Expert mentoring and networking opportunities in the first steps of an acting career.
For more information about the Actors Centre please visit our website www.actorscentre.co.uk
The Actors Centre is the UK's premiere resource for actors, committed to providing them with ongoing professional development of the highest calibre and the opportunity to improve every aspect of their craft. The Actors Centre is a friendly meeting place at the heart of the profession where actors and industry professionals can share information, exchange ideas and develop new and innovative work. Membership of the Actors Centre offers you: • an unrivalled range of classes including: TV & Film, Audition Technique, Casting Advice, Voiceovers, Radio Drama, Physical Theatre and Shakespeare • groundbreaking and advanced workshops led by leading actors, directors and practitioners • expert mentoring and one-to-one advice from theatre professionals • access to networking opportunities, regular industry castings and weekly newsletter offering cut-price tickets and membership discounts • involvement in the Actors Centre's innovative theatre and film projects • discounted showreel editing service.
BECOME A MEMBER TODAY! www.actorscentre.co.uk 020 7240 3940 The Actors Centre 1a Tower Street London WC2H 9NP
myfinalyear Yvonne I’Anson talks to three students about their final year of training at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. With thanks to Shane Collins and Sue Robertson Twenty-seven year old Chris Fossey hails from Oxford. He started his working life in IT but always had a keen interest in theatre and performed with Amateur Dramatic societies, which lead to an interest in Technical Theatre. He applied to and was offered places by a few drama schools. “I chose Mountview for two reasons” said Chris “the college and the course had a brilliant reputation, and it was the only college to offer a two year degree course, which was very attractive to me.” He continued; “The first year of training covers five disciplines - Design, Construction, Stage Management, Lighting and Sound. I came to college with very little knowledge of Technical Theatre and in the back of my mind I planned to specialise in Lighting. However, after completing a semester of Stage Management, I loved it and knew this was the area I wanted to concentrate on. I made my decision to major in Stage Management with Lighting as my minor discipline. I was really looking forward to the start of my second and final year, knowing I could put into practice what I had already learnt. During the final year we work purely on shows, and this really opens your eyes to the working hours, the commitment and variety of skills required, highlighting how hard you have to work. Before we broke for summer we were given our show roles for the next term and I was delighted to find that I was to be DSM on Children of Eden. It was a great musical with a fairly big cast, which was somewhat daunting, but we had been so well prepared in the first year that I was confident I had the skills for the job. We had a professional director, Stephen Barlow, who always treated me like a fellow professional which further boosted my confidence. Myself, the cast and the crew all adhered to theatre etiquette, applied ourselves professionally and treated each other with respect and integrity. I think being a little older than the majority of students helped me here, as I had more ‘life’ experience, such as working diplomatically within a team. My next show role was ASM on The Crucible. In addition to playing in our own studio space we also took the show on a short tour and, even though we worked long hours, it was a new and fun experience, and a great introduction to touring and the importance of time management. After Christmas I had my Lighting role as Assistant LX on Enduring Freedom and at first I wasn’t sure what to expect. Although I was somewhat apprehensive, it made me realise just how much we had learnt in the first year about all the disciplines as everything fell in to place, and I feel I gained a lot from this show role. I think the essence of this course is that it allows you to
understand and appreciate how all the departments work together and how every single person is a crucial part of the team. I was back in the role of DSM for the big musical of the year, The Life. There was a cast of thirty-eight and we presented the show at the Albany Theatre in Deptford, which is an interesting and versatile space. I was raring to go with this role but knew it would be a complicated job with such a large company. Also, as all of us were nearing the end of our courses, there were other difficulties such as cast members having to attend auditions, which I had to work around too. Maintaining communication between everyone was so important. It was a tough show to call, but I felt confident I could do it - and I loved every single minute. The biggest compliment for me was when the director, Hannah Chissick, asked me if I was a student or a professional. For my final Mountview show I will be Assistant Production Manager and Stage Manager working with Director Matt Ryan. I know when I leave Mountview, I will leave with sufficient skills and experience to undertake a professional stage management job. I have the confidence, desire and drive and I can’t wait to get out into the industry and begin my career. As students, we were really lucky to have such a fantastic teacher in Jacqui George she really inspired me to specialise in Stage Management. In fact, all my tutors and support staff have been superb. I got far more out of my final year at Mountview than I could ever have hoped for or expected. As well as having a great time, I leave with many transferable skills and a wealth of experience. I now look forward to realising my ideal job as a DSM in the West End”.
Chris Fossey my final year
21-year-old Iddon (pronounced Ithon) Jones is from Llanfigael, in north Wales. Iddon started his drama training with bags of experience under his belt. At the age of 6 he joined the stage school Ysgol Glanaethwy and toured the world with them - and was a member of the Choir of the same name that was runner up in TV’s Last Choir Standing. At the age of 9 he joined the Welsh soap Rownd a Rownd, and played Osian Powell for ten years. But he knew that he really wanted to train professionally. Having been offered a place at the Royal Welsh College, he had to decide whether to stay in Wales or whether to break free and move to London. “I had performed in London at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall and I loved being in London but it was still a difficult decision to make because staying in Wales was the safe and cheaper option,” said Iddon. “I received so much conflicting advice but then I spoke to actress Fflur Medi Owen, who also trained at Mountview, and she told me to go where I felt at home and I have to admit that I felt very at home at Mountview, so I accepted a place to study for a BA (Hons) in Performance Acting.” Iddon continued: “My training has been life changing. At first it was all pretty daunting, especially as I had to get used to speaking English all the time - Welsh is my first language - but I got lots of support and it was not the big issue I thought it might be. At the end of the second year we had a talk about what we had to do to market ourselves in the third year and college gave us so much support with this - then it slowly dawns on you that the reality is, as an actor you are a business and you have to think like one. It is going to be so much more than just getting by on your talent and Mountview is really good in explaining what it is going to be like in the business. Our first public performance was Marat/Sade at the Pleasance Theatre. A week before rehearsals began I had a phone call saying that due to the fact one of my fellow students was ill, they wanted me to
Musical Theatre student Ibinabo Jack, 26, is from Wigan. Following her ‘A’ Levels, she went to Salford University to read English and Drama but left after one term! In 2004 she was invited to audition for The Lion King in Disneyland Paris and Ibinabo was thrilled to be offered a part and stayed with the show for two years. Although she had worked professionally, she was really keen to train for Musical Theatre and applied to Mountview, the only drama school she had really heard of. But it was going to be a tough three years for Ibinabo. She explains “My dad died in 1994, leaving my mum as a single parent with six children. I was fortunate to be offered a place at Mountview and I was given a Dance and Drama Award funded by the LSC. However, I knew I would need in the region of an additional £5000 per year to live and my family just didn’t have that sort of money. In my first year my local council gave me £3000, the following year they reduced it to £500. I used all the money I saved during The Lion King and had three part time jobs. But as I approached the end of my first year it looked as if I might have to give up on my dream. I discussed my dilemma at college and was given a lot of advice and support. I wrote loads of letters to some prominent people in the business - people I really respected and was overwhelmed when I received some financial help from them. It secured my second and third years and I will always be grateful to those people who helped me. I still
had to work when I could but I took each day as it came - my main objective was to make it through my course with good grades. So when I started my third year my mind was focussed on my forthcoming public performances Children of Eden and The Crucible. I really loved the fact that I was performing in front of audiences again and I especially enjoyed The Crucible because we took the production in to schools and colleges and performed in front of very different audiences. It was a great experience. Returning to college after Christmas, we immediately started work on our West End showcase and performed in front of agents and casting directors in early February. I had already had some interest from my public performances, but was really shocked to find out that all my CV’s and photos had gone. After the first showcase performance I was approached in the bar by 7 agents, and later received 6 voicemails and 5 emails. The next day the phone rang constantly - I assumed it was the norm. In total, thirty-six agents contacted me. I was overwhelmed. I researched all the agents and arranged interviews and generally they were great and gave me valuable advice - there were a couple of bad interviews but nothing too awful. Deciding which agent to sign with was a hard decision to make - especially because the agents on my final shortlist were so nice and had brilliant people on their books. They all gave me advice and I felt cared about me as an artist. In addition to my own research, I had a huge amount of support from Mountview’s in-house Marketing department, who gave me objective advice but never pushed me. We are so lucky to have this resource. I finally decided to sign with Sam Boyd at CAM and I am really happy. I entered the third year with no pre-conceived ideas and I have just loved every minute of it. I have played some wonderful roles including Queen in The Life, a fabulous musical that has never been performed in the UK. I feel so fortunate that I was offered a place on this course and I am thrilled that I have managed to keep my head above water and complete my training. I now look forward to working as a professional actress. As for my dream role - well I would love to be in an action film but I would also like to be in the musical The Color Purple, which hasn’t been produced over here yet - so fingers crossed.”
play Marat - what a challenge! This was a mammoth project because it involved the whole year (33 of us) and the principle roles were double cast, so one night I played Marat and the other I played a guard. It was such a wonderful play to work on, and we were all thrilled that Paul Clements, who had just retired as Mountview’s Principal, directed us - he was such an inspiration and the creative process was amazing, resulting in both casts giving different performances, which made it really exciting. There were so many highlights doing this play - the audience response, getting agent interest which I didn’t expect so early in the year and meeting Mike Leigh who came to see the show. Once the production finished everything seemed much more real. Christmas wasn’t far away and after that we had two more plays and our showcase and then we graduate. Yes our final year was flying by!” After the Christmas break, Iddon started rehearsing for his second production, this time a musical called The Fix, presented at The Albany in Deptford. “I enjoy singing and was delighted to be cast in this show - it was very high energy and high camp - a spoof on American politics which seemed really appropriate with Obama’s inauguration. During the run of The Fix I went for a mock agent interview, which the marketing department organises for all the acting students. This was such a brilliant experience. I met Jean Diamond from Diamond Management, who was so helpful and gave me invaluable advice. It was lovely that a leading
agent with so much experience was generous in giving her time to help a new actor. No sooner had we finished The Fix than we started Showcase rehearsals. Showcase is the time when you really have to start thinking about marketing yourself and your strengths - I would have loved to have gone out and given a speech from Hamlet but I wanted to sell myself commercially and picked a comedy scene, which I did with Drew Dillon - it was really well received. I felt comfortable performing on a West End stage - it is where I want to be. I was really impressed with the turn out of industry professionals - some top agents and casting directors including the RSC. But of course there are no guarantees and we have to remember that we are in the middle of a recession and college has stressed it could be tough for us initially - but I am really positive about the future. Immediately after showcase, I started work on a devised project, which is a real journey of discovery, and this is followed by my last play. Then in June I can stand up and call myself a professional actor. I will be really sorry when my third year is over but I am looking forward to getting out there and using what I have learnt at college and indeed to learn more from my peers.”
Audition speeches are a curious phenomenon. You’re required to act without the usual essentials (costume, props, etc) and crucially without the buzz of an expectant audience; just a bunch of pen-wielding critics, writes Simon Dunmore. In order not “to go naked into the conference-chamber”* (audition room), you need to spend a good amount of time selecting your personal ‘arsenal’ of ‘nuclear’ audition speeches. And this is before you spend time preparing them for the ‘audition-chamber’. [*Aneurin Bevan - Founder of our National Health Service - arguing against unilateral nuclear disarmament at the Labour Party conference of 1957 — to the profound shock of many of his Socialist colleagues.] The ‘nuclear’ analogy is, I believe, a good one. Like the multiple options the creators of nuclear technology explored before they made it work — you’ll need to travel down many frustrating cul-de-sacs in order to find what’s ‘right’ for YOU. Length An audition piece should be no more than two or two-and-ahalf minutes long (that’s roughly 300 words — depending on pace). Two minutes (or less) can be very effective provided that it contains all the parameters listed elsewhere in this article. And, around one-minute can work! How many? The important thing is to have a good range of audition material so that you’ve got a library to choose from to suit each given circumstance — not just the usual minimum requirements of one ‘modern’ and one ‘classical’. I suggest a minimum of half-a-dozen (‘classical’ & ‘modern’) — plus selections from those lists that some insist upon. I realise that each takes time to prepare for audition, but the more acting-journeys that you travel, the more you will gain insights into how acting really works — for YOU. What’s right for YOU? Like choosing underwear, this is a highly personal process. However, there are certain basics; In spite of the fact that you may have played much older than your calendar years in school/ college/university productions, it is essential to choose speeches that are within your ‘playing age’ — that is usually a few years either side of your calendar age. Although some people can stretch this further in one direction or another. All should be credible using your own accent — maybe up or downgrading it to suit certain speeches. The only time that you should use another accent is if it is one that you’ve lived with for a number of years — and you can convince a native of that area. Many speeches will adapt readily into different accents and Shakespeare does not need to be done in RP! This artificial accent was only developed over a century
after Shakespeare’s death. You should also aim to find material that rarely (if ever) appears elsewhere on the audition circuit. Judging acting is a highly subjective business, so it is generally better to better to find ‘original’ material to heighten your chances of not being compared to others. I suggest that you should only use material that is popular if you feel sure that you can perform it (them) extremely well — on a bad day. What to be wary of You will find lists of ‘popular’ Shakespeare speeches on my website. In my experience this has hardly changed at all over the decades. However, I will not attempt a similar list of modern speeches as these change constantly — you’ll have to ask around to discover whether a speech is currently in this category. If a speech is in a book of modern audition speeches (‘monologues’) that is currently in print, you can be fairly sure that it’s contents will be become ‘popular’ within a few years of publication. However, these books can be a useful sources of discovering playwrights new to you worth digging into further for audition material. Faced with choosing from the ‘classical’ repertoire most people stick to the Shakespeare plays that they know. In spite of the fact that my Alternative Shakespeare Auditions books have been in print for around a decade, most of these speeches are still relatively under-used on the audition circuit. And Shakespeare’s contemporaries are rarely exploited. It is also probably better to avoid any character who is generally remembered through a specific performance — for instance, Rita (Educating Rita) will remain associated with Julie Walters for a very long time to come. There are some wonderful monologues written by wellknown writer-performers like Victoria Wood and Alan Bennett. It is also wise to avoid these as they were specifically written to be performed by the writer or another well-known performer. It is very, very hard for the viewer not to compare your rendition with the original. Warning: There is now a lot of free audition material available on the Internet. Much of it is indifferently written; however, I have come across the occasional ‘gem’. Sources of speeches Don’t just rely on plays that you know — you should be steadily expanding your knowledge of dramatic literature. Seeing, reading, sitting in libraries and bookshops (especially, secondhand ones); even picking up an audition book to find inspiration for
studentsupport a playwright (previously unknown to you) whom you could explore further. Look in novels, less well-known films, good journalism (for instance) for material that could be made into good ‘drama’. For example, Shakespeare copied (almost word-for-word) Queen Katherine’s wonderful speech beginning “Sir, I desire you do me right and justice...” (Henry VIII — Act 2, Scene 4) from the court record. It’s generally inadvisable to write your own speech(es) — this rarely works because very few actors are good playwrights. If you do decide to use a self-written piece, it can be a good idea to use a nom de plume — you’re selling yourself as an actor; not a playwright. You should also be prepared to talk about the whole play — even if you haven’t written it yet. Finding ‘original’ speeches It can be hard to know where to start when faced with all those shelves full of plays. Try focusing on the writers of speeches (from an audition speech book, for instance) you’ve liked — they almost certainly wrote other plays. It is possible to find out-of-print plays via libraries or book-finding services and by combing second-hand book shops. Some publishers (even a few playwrights’ agencies) will organise a photocopy — for a fee. Also, The British Library (in theory) has a copy of every play ever performed in this country but there can be complications in actually getting hold of a copy. Start with your local library if you’re determined to find a specific play; if they don’t have it they may well be able to get it from another library (via the ‘inter-library loan’ system), but be prepared for it to take a long time. I thoroughly recommend <www.doollee.com> when searching for plays — especially when one is buried inside an anthology and the title doesn’t show up through a search. This marvellous website — apart from much else — sometimes provides a link to the title of the appropriate anthology. NB There is a list of playwrights worth exploring for audition material on my website. Content Too many people fail because they choose to do an indifferent speech. Even if they do it well, it somehow doesn’t have much impact because of indifferent writing, lack of depth, and so on. Essentially you should go for pieces that have good ‘journeys’ — just like a good play. It can be useful to find speeches that enable you to show your special skills (singing or juggling, for instance), but don’t try to cram so much in that the sense is lost in a firework display of technical virtuosity. At the other extreme avoid something that requires performance at one pace or on one note. And, never set out to shock deliberately — through content and/or crude language. That is not to say don’t do ‘shockers’; rather, don’t set out with the specific idea of shocking your interviewer(s) as many people seem to intend — we’ve heard most of it before. I cannot describe how mind-numbingly tedious audition-days can become when peppered with such speeches. Editing It is possible to make a complete speech by ‘stringing together’ short speeches from a piece of dialogue and/or taking a section out of a novel or a newspaper article, etc, but does it (a) make sense and (b) sound like spoken language. It often isn’t simply a question of cutting out the other person’s lines or removing phrases like “she explained”. You usually need to make some other detailed edits. Once you think that you’ve completed an edit, type it out. Trying to get a proper perspective on a page full of crossings-out and word changes is nigh-on impossible. ‘Trying on’ Try reading any speech that looks good to you (on the page) out loud in front of someone else before you start rehearsing it. If you do this, you’ll get an even better idea of whether each speech really suits (and ‘grabs’) you. It’s a bit like buying clothes: you see a pair of trousers (say) that look good on the hanger; sometimes you will feel completely different about them when you try them on. The opposite can also occur: you feel indifferent about a speech on the page; you read it out loud and it feels much, much better. Postscript I strongly suggest allowing yourself about three months steadily looking for suitable speeches. In the next edition of The Drama Student I’ll be giving you tips on how to prepare your selected speeches.● Simon has directed productions for over 30 years, as well as working in many drama schools. He has written several books: An Actor’s Guide to Getting Work and Alternative Shakespeare Auditions. www.simon.dunmore.btinternet.co.uk
email@example.com I am in my final year of drama school. After my first showcase I got two offers from small agents who have not long been going. Do you think I should wait until my next Showcase in the summer to see if I get interest from a bigger, more established agent? Or might I miss out on an agent altogether if I don’t and the others go cold? Thomas Good to hear you got agent interest after your first showcase – well done! There are some brilliant small agencies and new agents are usually really keen to get themselves established and build up a good professional reputation. Usually new agents have worked for bigger or more established companies, so they build up their contact list before branching out on their own. Did they tell you about their background? Did they tell you the sort of work their current clients are doing? Did you research them before meeting them? Did they actually give you a deadline for an answer? Some agents are happy to make an offer and wait until your final show but you need to be clear about that. Of course if you wait you do stand the chance of missing out completely, but you have to ask yourself if you would be 100% happy with one of the agents you have already seen and then you have to give them the opportunity to promote you. Do ask for advice at college and any of your peers who know the agents but always remember that everyone has a different opinion. At the end of the day you are the only one who can make the decision and you have to trust your gut reaction. You can also ring John Colclough who used to work for Spotlight and is now an independent advisor – he is wonderful and very knowledgeable about agents and agencies. He makes a small charge but it is well worth it! www.johncolclough.co.uk. Finally I must stress this is my personal opinion and others may well differ. I am 16 and in my first year of doing A-Levels. I have always been very academic and I feel pressured by my career adviser to look at conventional courses at university. However, I am committed to auditioning for drama school in the next few years with the determination to make it as an actress. I’ve spoken about my aims with the adviser and while she has given details of drama courses, I do feel she tries to steer me away from a career in this area because of my academic achievements. What can I do to make her understand? Vanessa This took me back to my day in front of a career adviser (a long, long time ago!) when I was told I was the wrong shape and size to be an actress and should consider becoming a secretary at the BBC! More importantly my parents didn’t want me to be an actress and what they said went and I have to say they were right – I would have hated the insecurity of being an actress. I think career advisers today are much more aware of what is available but they have to give you options. That is their job. I am sure your career adviser is not trying to ‘steer’ you but she wants you to explore all possibilities and to make the most of your academic abilities. So do look at all your options and also look at all the drama training available – the Conference of Drama Schools (CDS) publishes an annual guide which you will find very useful. Discuss your options with your family too. You still have time on your side. I would make a ‘for’ and ‘against’ list so that you are really clear in your own mind about the direction you want to take. You have to be 100% committed to drama training. There is another alternative – you could go to University and then after completing your first degree you could embark on a Postgraduate Course. I hope this helps and wish you lots of luck. ● Yvonne I’Anson is Head of Marketing & Development at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts
student support The CDS are a highly recognised body in the industry. But do you know exactly what it is they do? Kate Ashcroft sets the record straight. What is the CDS? The Conference of Drama Schools (CDS) is the body which represents the top 22 drama schools in the UK. It exists to: “strengthen the voice of the member schools, to set and maintain the highest standards of training within the vocational drama sector, and to make it easier for prospective students to understand the range of courses on offer and the application process.” In 2008, it celebrated its 40th birthday. The 22 member schools can be viewed via the CDS website at www.drama. ac.uk (click on ‘Links to CDS members’). The CDS represents schools which offer practical, hands-on training. All schools offer three year, full-time courses in acting, and many offer one year and two year acting courses as well. However, there are not just drama courses on offer, but also technical theatre skills, stage management and musical theatre. In recent years, several CDS schools have increased the number and variety of their courses which means that you’ll not only need to think carefully about which school is right for you, but also about which course you want to pursue.
Choosing a school The CDS advise in their 2009 Guide that “the choice you make should be based on a mixture of informed judgement and gut feeling.” This means that, funds permitting (all schools charge an audition fee of around £35£40), you should try to audition at a number of different schools so that you can get a feel for what they’re like. It’s also a good idea to talk to current students at all the schools you’re interested in to see what they think of their training. Remember that your audition day is not only a chance for you to demonstrate your skills but also for you to put your questions to the staff and students, so make sure you use it to the full.
Choosing a course There is a huge range of acting courses available, and you’ll find that that some offer degrees while others are diplomas or certificates (professional qualifications which are degree-equivalent). The important question when choosing between them is why do you want to train? If you’re
committed to becoming a professional actor then what is important is high quality training which is intensive and rigorous, and which prepares you fully for all the demands that will be made of you when you enter the acting profession. That said, it isn’t always easy to know how to recognise signs of topquality training, so look at things like how many hours teaching you’ll receive each week, what contact you’ll have with influential people in the profession during the training, what’s the staff/student ratio like, what’s the range of public performance opportunities during the course.
Funding There are two funding systems at work: 1. Degree courses which are funded in the same way as other university degrees so that, if you are on a three year course, you pay £3,070 per year towards your fees (in 2009/10). 2. Courses which lead to the Trinity College London Diploma or Certificate, and which offer full scholarships and a maintenance grant to up to 60% of its students under the Government’s Dance and Drama Awards (DADA) scheme. Students who do not receive a scholarship have to pay private fees of around £12,000 per year. All students who meet the residence requirements are eligible to compete for a DADA. You can receive a DADA even if you have already been funded to undertake a degree from a British university.
Making your applications Some schools will ask you to apply to them directly while others will need you to apply through UCAS, so make sure you check the protocol before you apply. For your copy of the CDS Guide, write to French’s Theatre Bookshop (52 Fitzroy Street, London W1T 5JR, tel: 020 7255 4300, firstname.lastname@example.org) Email: www.drama.ac.uk Web: email@example.com
THE CENTRAL SCHOOL OF SPEECH AND DRAMA University of London
The Central School of Speech and Drama now offers innovative new courses for the more experienced drama student to refresh their performing skills. TWO-MONTH COURSE FOR PROFESSIONAL ACTORS AT THE MOSCOW ART THEATRE SCHOOL
VOICE AND TEXT with SARA KESTELMAN*
February-March 2009 (to be confirmed)
This introduction to the vocal performance of text aims to help you find your ‘natural voice’, and explore how to use its full expressive potential when performing dramatic texts.
This is an opportunity for professional actors to spend two months in Moscow in an intensive course focused on concentration, imagination, observation and active text analysis. Fee: £3,000.00 (you can pay by instalment)
SUMMER SCHOOL AT THE MOSCOW ART THEATRE SCHOOL 29 August -12 September 2009 Go to Moscow for a packed 10 day acting course as an intensive combination of classroom exploration and application of technique. Fee: £790.00 (you can pay by instalment)
6-9 July 2009 (10.00am- 4.30pm)
Fee: £485 (£420 concession)
COMBAT AND STAGE FIGHTING (Foundation) 6-10 July 2009 (10.00am- 4.30pm) Learn effective illusions of violence, unarmed or with weapons, which may include Period European and Asian fighting styles, modern realistic fighting, fencing, and slapstick. If you pass the course you will be awarded the British Academy or Dramatic Combat Foundation Level.
LIBERATING THE TEXT with NICKOLAS GRACE*
Fee: £525 (£465 concessions)
13 -17 July 2009 (10.00am- 4.30pm)
*Tutor subject to professional availability.
This course applies a combination of voice and movement to text, where you will explore your interpretation skills as a performer. Fee: £525 (£465 concessions)
For further information please call 020 7559 3960 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Summer School Special
Summer is just around the corner and now is the time to be thinking about enrolling on a programme to learn new skills or develop existing talents. TDS highlights some of the top courses in the UK. Intensive short courses are often the perfect way of sampling the drama school experience without having to enrol on a full three year programme. There are a wide range of courses in various directions of study enabling students to discover fresh skills or expand existing ones. Most drama schools now offer summer programmes with courses that scratch the service generally and others that are focussed intensively on a specific branch of learning. Wherever your interests lie, there is an array of programmes out there to suit your needs. Choose from broad courses in acting, musical or technical theatre, or more specialised classes in Shakespeare, audition technique, stage combat, costume making, scenic art or even circus skills. It’s important to make it absolutely clear from the outset – these programmes are certainly no holiday camp. You will be working with
theatre professionals who are skilled in their own right, and they will expect a commitment in the same way as if you were studying on a longer programme. But this is excellent news for those that have lots of passion and energy. It’s also the perfect opportunity for you to determine whether the course is something you want to pursue or not. Take your time to really research the course you want to do. Don’t just follow what your friends might be doing because you worry about being alone. You will make new friends on any programme. Be brave and ready for whatever is thrown at you. Ensure you’re on time every day and that you get as much out of the programme as you can. Summer schools are an exciting introduction to training in the world of theatre and the arts. Go for it!
contents Central Mountview GSA Royal Welsh NYMT Rose Bruford East 15
33 34 36 39 39 40 41
Central School of Speech and Drama The Central School of Speech and Drama continues its successful and long running Summer School programme in 2009. You can choose from a wide range of courses, from Musical Theatre and Nia for Performers to Summer Shakespeare and Youth Theatre for Actors. Actors’ Audition Pieces are offered once more and Central is pleased to announce new courses for the more experienced actor delivered by Central’s famous alumnus: Liberating the Text with Nickolas Grace and Voice and Text with Sara Kestelman. If you’d like to learn personal combat, Period European and Asian fighting styles or modern realistic fighting, fencing, and slapstick then Stage Combat may be the course for you. It is designed to teach effective illusions of violence, whether unarmed or with weapons. If you pass the course you will be awarded the British Academy or Dramatic Combat Foundation Level. Also, for the fourth year running Central is running a Summer School at the Moscow Art Theatre School (MXAT) for a packed 10 days where students can gain an understanding of their training methodologies by experiencing their classes in person. The tutors will also be available to discuss actor training at MXAT as it stands in the 21st Century. This is an opportunity to study in the birth place of Stanislavski’s training! You must be training as an actor in HE or be a graduate to attend. All Summer School courses are taught by qualified professionals, which means that students enjoy the same high quality teaching as those on Central’s full-time programmes. Staff have also been disseminating work both nationally and internationally. If you need further information, please call +44 (0)20 7559 3960 or email email@example.com
Mountview Summer Courses offer a great insight into life at drama college and the popular summer programme at Mountview is a rich and diverse range of short courses designed for young people and adults. With two-week adult intensive courses to one-week high-energy courses for children and young people, there really is something for everyone. For adult performers there is the option of Acting or Musical Theatre Summer courses. The two-week programmes for those aged 17+ provide intensive training, focusing on techniques employed by the professional actor and used in full-time drama training. These courses are structured with skills based training in the mornings followed by afternoon rehearsals with course directors working towards informal, end of course presentations. During the different skills based sessions students work with a selection of invited professionals and practitioners in their specialist areas. Both of these two-week Summer Schools also include a Theatre trip and a masterclass. Last year, Mountview introduced a new and exciting Summer Course - Lighting Design and Technology. This one-week course is aimed at adults who would like to develop their basic knowledge of or interest in this area. In a busy but fun-packed week you will gain an understanding of the lighting design process from model box to plan drafting together with the basic practical skills required to rig, power, patch, focus and use the latest lighting kit including moving lights, LED equipment and state of the art consoles. Working with professional lighting designers, your week will end with a spectacular sound to light show using the knowledge you have gained during the course. If you are planning to audition for a full-time performance course then why not enrol on Mountview’s week-long Audition Technique programme. You can choose either Musical Theatre or Acting and you will work with experienced practitioners who know exactly what is required to make your mark. This course is aimed at increasing your confidence and your chances of success and the programme guides you in the selection and preparation of suitable modern and classical texts and songs. Each option is geared towards its own specific discipline and the week culminates with a mock audition, after which you receive feedback and guidance. Mountview’s one-week courses for children and young people are always hugely popular. The programmes are designed to cover ages from 8 – 16 yrs and can be taken in either acting or musical theatre. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills and make new friends in a safe environment. Students also benefit by developing confidence and one to one and group interpersonal skills. Working with experienced tutors, this fun-filled week culminates in a performance for friends and family. The Summer Programmes run between 27 July and 21 August. Summer at Mountview is an experience you will never forget - and a wonderful opportunity to experience life at one of the busiest and friendliest leading UK drama schools. Eddie Gower and Yvonne I’Anson For more information contact 020 8881 2201 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
training GUILDFORD SCHOOL OF ACTING
2009 July/August 2009
[12 – 16 years]
BO O N K O IN W G
• Musical Theatre • Intensive Acting • Intensive Singing • Intensive Dance • Acting for Camera • Directing Musicals • Audition Techniques • Youth Theatre
For an application form/further details contact:Guildford School of Acting Millmead Terrace, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4YT t: 01483 734804 | f: 01483 535431 | email@example.com | www.gsauk.org
Photos: Mark Dean
GSA – Guildford School of Acting The GSA Summer School is widely recognised as one of the most popular and inspiring available for those wishing to gain further skills and for those who want to discover whether to go on to full-time training. The Summer School is led by Gerry Tebbutt, Head of Performance, and students have the opportunity to work with directors, musical directors and choreographers from the full-time faculty. The School is truly international attracting students from around the world. Courses are offered at a reasonable cost and provide either a stimulating refresher course or an introduction to basic theatre training. There is no audition procedure. Everyone is welcome! For 2009 GSA is introducing a brand new course entitled Directing a Musical. This five day course is aimed at those who wish to learn or enhance their directing skills, concentrating particularly on musical theatre. You will work through the directing process from recruiting your production team to auditions through the rehearsal process and on to letting go when the opening night arrives. The courses is ideal for directors working in the amateur theatre and those wishing to pursue a professional directing career or actors wishing to add musical directing skills to their cv. Do you want to go to drama school? Are your skills limited and hindering your chances? Do you need guidance and help? Do you need professional advice? Do you need to realise your full potential? If so, take a look at GSA’s Intensive Courses which cover the three disciplines – acting, singing and dance and are intended to improve the student’s ability and understanding of each discipline and how to improve audition preparation and presentation. Each course ends with a mock audition which points out what is successful and what work still needs to be done in order to achieve a place at drama school level. If you want to be an all round, versatile performer then these courses are for you! The Musical Theatre Summer School course is aimed at students who wish to top up their performance skills or learn new ones and is inspirational for anyone wishing to increase their knowledge or explore further the art of performance. You will learn and understand about the commitment and focus at professional level that is required to access training courses or the industry. GSA takes the art of training for musical theatre very seriously and although this course is fun it is also hard work. There are classes in all three disciplines, acting, singing and dancing and you will work on a mini-production. If you are serious and determined to pursue a career in the performing arts industry and want to gain a place at drama school, either on an acting or musical theatre programme, then Audition Techniques is the course for you. GSA gives you experience in mock auditions, classes and audition technique - everything you need in order to prepare for drama school auditions. Acting for Camera is for those who are interested in learning about acting for the camera. Making films is first a technical process and the actor has to arrive on set fully prepared to work - often without the benefit of rehearsal. This course will help you understand how films and TV programmes are made and edited, so that you can come to the set with an understanding of the process. All the Summer Schools above are for students 17 years and over. However, it is never too early to start your training so GSA offers a Youth Theatre for 12 - 16 year olds who enjoy Drama and Acting. This is an opportunity to work with a group of like-minded students on a given theme for a concentrated period of time, and to produce your own piece of theatre. So GSA Summer School offers something for all ages and abilities.
Photo: David Galloway
Photo: Mark Dean
Full details of all Summer Schools can be found on www.gsauk.org or call 01483 560701.
Drama Student:Layout 1
TRAIN AT ONE OF THE LEADING SCHOOLS FOR MUSICAL THEATRE AND PERFORMING ARTS Former students include: Julie Andrews, Adam Cooper, Cherie Lunghi, Samantha Barks, Sarah Brightman, Will Young, Darcey Bussell, Bonnie Langford, Summer Strallen and many many more...
PROFESSIONAL FULL TIME COURSES IN ACTING AND MUSICAL THEATRE SECONDARY VOCATIONAL DAY SCHOOL PART TIME COURSES MASTERCLASSES
President Lord Lloyd Webber
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: WWW.ARTSED.CO.UK T ELEPHONE : 020 8987 6666 E MAIL : firstname.lastname@example.org ARTS EDUCATIONAL SCHOOLS LONDON 14 Bath Road, Chiswick, London W4 1LY
SUMMER COURSES FOR ADULTS IN
2 weeks from 10 August
MUSICAL THEATRE 2 weeks from 27 July SOLD OUT Dates added: 2 weeks from 10 August
AUDITION TECHNIQUE 1 week from 27 July
LIGHTING DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY 1 week from 3 July
020 8826 9217 email@example.com www.mountview.org.uk ACADEMY OF THEATRE ARTS Mountview is committed to equal opportunities
The National Youth Music Theatre The National Youth Music Theatre exists to produce challenging music theatre work, both major productions and workshops, for young people of all backgrounds as participants; and, in helping them to explore new and existing works, to inspire themselves and each other, and to give them the opportunity to achieve their highest aspirations, realising their talent, imagination and creativity. The NYMT has been the kick start of countless professional careers, namely Matt Lucas and Jude Law, and their forthcoming summer programme is sizzling with opportunities. Work with NYMT practitioners in dance, drama and music on an array of exciting courses, aimed to help youngsters build up new skills in all areas of performance. For more information visit www.nymt.org.uk
Royal Welsh College Summer Schools Award-winning music, drama and design departments are opening their doors this summer at RWC. Whether a professional or an amateur, indulge your passion for theatre, design or music with those at the very top of their field. The Royal Welsh College is justly proud of the expertise it can offer: world-renowned director Michael Bogdanov will be teaching two classes, one on Shakespeare and the other on theatre directing. International jazz artist Paula Gardiner will be conducting a New Generation Jazz course. Take the opportunity to learn how to make a 19th century basque in the corsetry class with author and expert Jill Salen, learn about bodycasting and home decorating techniques, enjoy singing and focussing on breathing and extending your range on the Choral Course, or improve your technique by playing together in the String Chamber music course. On the PureData Boot Camp the course culminates in a performance/installation/concert of the week’s work. Whatever you’d like to do there’s something for every level at the Royal Welsh College Summer Schools. The courses take place from July to August and are mostly based at the Royal Welsh College. For more information on Summer Schools contact the events team on 029 20391 391
Rose Bruford College Rose Bruford College offers this intensive, two-week programme that develops your acting skills with classes in movement, voice and general acting while working towards final performances. It is equally suited to those with some acting experience wishing to improve or extend their skills, and to those with limited experience, wishing to explore the work of the actor. Working on two plays â€“ one classical and one contemporary, you will be taught by leading industry professionals. The Summer School programme is offered to people from the UK and around the world to enjoy and experience the outstanding facilities and reputation of Rose Bruford College. It also provides excellent preparation for students intending to apply to UK drama schools, further education colleges or universities, or wishing to build on experience. The programme includes: stimulating and challenging classes; intensive rehearsals; practical workshops in movement, acting, voice and improvisation; a Certificate of Attendance on satisfactory completion of the course; a detailed report on progress achieved and the next steps forward.
Full details of the summer programme will be published on our website at www.bruford.ac.uk or contact the College on 020 8308 2600 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Step... Marika Visser embarked on the drama school audition circuit for the first time earlier this year. She continues her documentation of her journey.
East 15 Always one of the UK’s most innovative acting schools, East 15 doesn’t disappoint with the exceptional range of short courses it offers throughout the summer. The school was established almost 50 years ago, born from the work of Joan Littlewood’s world famous Theatre Workshop and has been producing successful actors, producers, directors and theatre technicians, who have gone on to work across the world, ever since. East 15 Summer Courses are aimed at student actors (aged 17 and upwards), teachers and experienced amateurs and professionals who wish to extend their talents and explore new ways of approaching characterisation using the methodology of the school’s full-time programmes. They recommend that a good level and understanding of English language is required to fully appreciate and enjoy the courses. Since East 15 is part of the University of Essex, University credits are available for all courses. The main Campus at Loughton will be offering a programme that includes Acting for Opera, Contemporary Theatre, Performing Shakespeare, Filmmaking and the hugely popular Audition Techniques course as well as Theatre Directing. Although still on the Central Line tube, the Loughton Campus is set in five acres of parkland where the school also has it’s own theatre. There has recently been considerable expansion of both the range of full time courses offered and the facilities at East 15 and this year, for the first time, Summer Courses will also be offered at the Southend Campus. Particularly keen to show off their superb new studio space, the Southend team will be offering programmes covering Circus Skills, Physical Theatre and Stage Combat, leading to a foundation level examination with the British Academy of Dramatic Combat. If you like the idea of travelling a little further, they also run courses in Bali and Greece.
Full details can be found on their website at www.east15.ac.uk
At the beginning of this year I was embarking on an incredible journey. The inevitable drama school audition. Was I successful? Not in the slightest. I had no call backs. But will I continue my journey? Of course I will. I am being very philosophical as I had a good experience and learnt a lot at each audition I went to. If anything it has made me a lot stronger and the rejection I have channelled into positive thinking, despite going through a low point. But then I pose the following question - would we be normal human beings if rejection didn’t hurt? After all. As actors, we are sensitive artists of creativity, yet we choose to go into a profession which is notoriously harsh at times. Ah. The irony. I was fortunate enough to receive feedback from Central which has been very useful. I was so grateful and it was worth the wait - there was a delay of approximately three months! Do apply for feedback - as actors we should always have that attitude of wanting to improve our craft. I’ve also been looking at audition repertoire and researching since the end of February. You can never start too early... Those of you who are Facebook addicts like myself, may want to join this group. I recently discovered a support group called Drama School Auditionees 2008-2009. It has been such a useful tool in networking and is a good way of learning about the audition procedures at each school. It is refreshing to see everybody willing each other to do well. In fact there has been another Facebook group created called Drama School Auditionees 2009-2010, so when you have finished reading this…sign up to the appropriate group! At first it was very daunting being stuck in Devon for another year. However it is not an entire lost cause. Plan B consists of many things. But most importantly I will be focusing my attention on theatre. I will be auditioning for lots of shows around Torbay, having a shot at the National Youth Music Theatre as well as continuing with APT Creative. I am looking forward to the next year and showing drama schools what I’ve been up to. I am very excited this summer to be attending two courses in London: Notes from New York, a contemporary Musical Theatre company with West End professionals. They are responsible for producing the forthcoming West End premieres of Last Five Years and Tick, Tick... BOOM! by two of my favourite composers. The following week, I will be at GSA for Audition Techniques in which I strongly believe will be very beneficial for next year. I have a feeling the next year will be quite hectic! Good luck to anybody auditioning at the moment, congratulations to those of you who have successfully gained a place at drama school and if like me you were rejected? If at first you don’t succeed….Try again!●
Peter Craze became the Principal of Drama Studio London in 2003 after its founder Peter Layton retired after running the school for 37 years. He talks to TDS about keeping the school fresh in an ever-changing climate. You stepped into some important shoes when you took over from Peter Layton. Well I’m sure there hasn’t been a principal, certainly in London, of that long, it’s amazing. When he went it was the right time, it was right personally and in a sense the school has changed enormously, not just because I took it over, but there was things that needed changing, to do with the whole format of training students. There’s always new things that you’re adding in to equip the students with. It’s been a traditional school, and I’ve hung on to that tradition very much in the wake of Nicholas Hynter’s statement recently. It is just a one year programme but a full, full term, 44 week, year. And they do a lot of traditional, classical, Shakespeare, Restoration and voice work. Plus, all the modern media such as showreels and voice tapes. I want Mr Hytner to come here and hear my students because we value voice work here highly.
Talk to us about your Summer Programme. I teach on it, I do Shakespeare workshops, the Vice Principal works on it, rather than outside people brought in. But it’s great because they also do television, radio, singing, movement, combat, all the time working in the afternoon on a play which they then present as a fully staged production at the end of the four weeks. It’s open to eighteen and above.
You’ve recently introduced a two-year programme.
Not at all. There isn’t time. Some students can elect to do a Trinity Diploma.
It’s the first time after 40 years that we’ve gone in different directions. It’s for students more suited to it obviously as it’s going at a slightly slower pace. It allows a lot of things that we haven’t got time for on the one year course. Devised and physical theatre is so important now. We’re going to be taking them out touring Shakespeare productions, they’re going to be making a film. We have a very thorough bedding here in television and radio. We regard the technical skills as vitally important. It’s a tough course but they look comfortable in it.
What type of students do you have here?
Does this school do loads of academic written work like he generally suggests?
used to be an actor and professional director. that helped in your role here?
I’ve always kept the acting and directing. I still do some acting, I think it’s very important. The whole thing about Drama Studio London is it’s very much a network. It’s a network in training for the business. The last thing I did was a movie for Peter Howitt, who wrote and directed Sliding Doors. He was a student here thirty years ago. I really believe it’s important I know what we’re training the students for and the best way to do that is by doing some acting. I mean there isn’t a lot of time and I direct outside quite a bit. It takes a lot of time running the school, but also keeping myself professionally connected.
agree a essential.
Oh absolutely and it changes so fast. I actually bring people in with skills that I don’t have, particularly internet casting and things like that. The students need to know about it and I need to learn about it. We very much encourage our students to form their own companies. The days of the agent dominated career is very much taken a back seat now, it’s very much hand-in-hand of what you create yourself.
Do you personally work with the students? Oh yes. I direct, I teach, I do all their work classes, their audition classes, verse drama, radio. Only that way am I interested in the job. I’m very
much hands-on. I love the intimacy of it.
Our great advantage is that our average age here is 26. They’ve all made life changing decisions. We’re getting quite a fall out from The City. We have a student who had just been in Iraq with the army. He decided he has seen what life was all about and wanted to be an actor, and with our brilliant registrar downstairs Sue, they worked out this system whereby the army retrained him for a new career, and why shouldn’t a new career be acting? We look for students that are really excited about acting. Someone that makes me excited.
you feel that life experience is essential before they come to Drama Studio London?
that deter you from offering a place to a eighteen or nineteen year old?
We’ve had one or two but it’s never been easy, because of the maturity of the student body. It’s about the mental discipline and emotional maturity. The eighteen, nineteen year olds really need three years. We would never say never. We got one girl in who had done a lot of television as a child and she was only eighteen and she struggled. It’s just so fast. Obviously there are casualties in every year. In every school. I’ve worked at RADA, LAMDA, Guildford, ALRA, the lot. I was known as the tart of drama schools. Which I was quite pleased with actually. ●
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studio only 300 yards from West Kensington tube station on the District Line!
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Most Equity members are taxed as self-employed. However, many of our members are categorised as employed earners for National Insurance Contribution (NIC) purposes. Being self-employed for tax purposes means business expenses can be claimed against tax, whilst paying employees’ NICs provides added social security and employment protection. This ‘dual’ status can be extremely confusing so here is some information to help you understand both your status and your liabilities. When you finish training and are starting work as a professional artist, you need to register as self-employed for tax purposes. You can do this by calling the HMRC (Revenue & Customs) Helpline for the Newly Self-Employed on 08459 15 45 15. Alternatively, you can contact your nearest Revenue & Customs Inquiry office and ask for booklet “Thinking of working for yourself?” which is labelled PSE1. This booklet contains two forms. Form CWF1 should be completed and sent to the National Insurance Contributions Office (NICO) which will pass your information to the self-employment section of HMRC. You can also register by completing form CWF1 online at www.hmrc.gov.uk You should register as soon as you start working for yourself. If you fail to register within the first three months of self-employment, you may incur a penalty. If you don’t register and aren’t paying tax you could be liable for further penalties. Once registered you will be sent a self-assessment tax return every April. You use this form to declare your income and expenditure to HMRC. If it is completed and returned to HMRC by 30th September, HMRC will calculate the tax you owe and notify you of this by the payment deadline. PLEASE NOTE: If you are an actor, singer, dancer, stage manager or anyone else who normally has National Insurance Contributions deducted by your employer, you should be careful when completing form CWF1. In the section “How to pay your Class 2 NI Contributions” you should tick the box next to “Please send me more information about SEE” (Small Earnings Exception). This is because Class 2 NICs are not payable if your earnings from self-employment are below the ‘ threshold for the year in question. If you always pay NICs at source you should apply for SEE. Once registered as self-employed you must keep records of all your incomings and outgoings and set money aside to pay your tax bill when it is due. It is a legal requirement that you keep records for six years from the latest date by which your tax return is to be filed, so you must be organised and thorough. It is important that you are fully aware of the records you are required to keep, as failure to keep adequate records can result in a penalty. Performers have historically been taxed as self-employed and being this means you are able to claim business expenses against your income. You may have another job in addition to and separate from your performing work. This work is likely to be an employment (your tax and NICs will be deducted by the employer) and is not part of your self-employment as a performer. Earnings from this separate employment will need to be declared on the Employment Pages of the Self-Assessment Tax Return. The earnings you declare and the expenses you claim on the Self-Employment Pages will be in respect of your self-employment only i.e. your performing work. Tax can be a complicated area of a professional artist’s working life. Equity runs a helpline for members and student members and provides them with guides to tax, national insurance, jobseeker’s allowance and welfare benefits. For more information about the union and how to join as a student member, visit www.equity.org.uk/howtojoin
Marilyn is the story of a childhood without a father and love; a schizophrenic mother who doesn’t want her child to exist and even tries to strangle her as an infant; and an abused young girl who marries at 16 to avoid being sent to an orphanage. Marilyn’s career as an actress was to span just 16 years but featured starring roles in such classics as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot. She made a total of 29 films - 24 of them in the first 8 years of her career. With original music from Marilyn’s movies and performances as diverse as “Happy Birthday, Mr President” and “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”, and a company of 15 dancers, choreographed and directed by Olivier Award and Evening Standard Awardwinning Peter Schaufuss, Marilyn will play a strictly limited season of just 11 performances. Runs from Wednesday June 3 - Saturday June 13
APOLLO THEATRE Shaftesbury Avenue London , W1D 4ES Box office: 0844 412 4658 www.nimaxtheatres.com/marilyn
Phedre Helen Mirren plays the title role in PHEDRE by Jean Racine, in a version by Ted Hughes and directed by Nicholas Hytner. The cast also includes Dominic Cooper as Hippolytus and Margaret Tyzack as Oenone. Consumed by an uncontrollable passion for her young stepson and believing Theseus, her absent husband, to be dead, Phèdre confesses her darkest desires and enters the world of nightmare. When Theseus returns alive and well, Phèdre fearing exposure, accuses her stepson of rape. The result is carnage. Ted Hughes version’ of this powerful story of lust and betrayal is electrifying and the casting of Mirren is a stroke of brilliance. The multi-award-winning Mirren is an NT Associate. Her many stage appearances include Mourning Becomes Electra and Antony and Cleopatra at the National Theatre. Previews from 4 June.
Lyttelton Theatre National Theatre Southbank, SE1 9PX Box office: 020 7 452 3000 www.nationaltheatre.co.uk
Photo: Helen Mirren by Charlotte MacMillan
Phofo: Luke Hayes
culture Henry VIII’s Coronation Weekend On Saturday 20 June 2009, Hampton Court Palace will mark the 500th anniversary of King Henry VIII’s coronation (24 June 1509) with a magnificent Tudor river pageant sailing from the Tower of London along the River Thames to the King’s favourite surviving royal residence, Hampton Court Palace. The river pageant is in association with Thames Alive. Meanwhile at Hampton Court Palace, preparations will be underway in anticipation of their arrival at around 3pm. Visitors will be able to see the Tudor cooks hard at work in Henry VIII’s Kitchens preparing a feast fit for a King, which will be served to the royal party in the palace’s famous gardens followed by music, dancing and entertainment from the King’s fools. So get ready to party like it’s 1509!
HAMPTON COURT PALACE Surrey, KT8 9AU Tel: 0844 482 7777 www.hrp.org.uk/ HamptonCourtPalace
Hussein Chalayan Leading the forefront of contemporary fashion design, the twice named ‘British Designer of the Year,’ Hussein Chalayan, is renowned for his innovative use of materials, meticulous pattern cutting and progressive attitudes to new technology. This exhibition is the first comprehensive presentation of Hussein Chalayan’s work in the UK. Spanning fifteen years of experimental projects, the exhibition explores Hussein Chalayan’s creative approach, his inspirations and the many themes which influence his work such as cultural identity, displacement and migration. Exhibits include ‘Afterwords’ which explores the notion of ‘wearable, portable architecture’ in which furniture literally transforms itself into garments; ‘Airborne’ - bringing the latest LED technology to fashion design with a spectacular dress consisting of Swarovski crystals and over 15,000 flickering LED lights. Runs until 17th May. Design Museum Shad Thames London, SE1 2YD Tel. 0870 833 9955 www.designmuseum.org
I am often surprised when I talk to young actors to find that some of them know very little about some of the great performers who have contributed so much to this wonderful business, writes Yvonne I’Anson. I get a great deal of pleasure reading biographies and watching old movies and would urge all young actors and drama students to do the same.
Considered by many to be the greatest English-speaking actor of the twentieth century. The playwright Charles C Bennett said that Laurence Olivier could speak Shakespeare’s lines as naturally as if he were “actually thinking them”. My first introduction to the brilliance of Olivier was as a young school girl, when our class was taken to see the film Othello (1965). I was completely transfixed by this extraordinary presence on screen – with a voice so rich and beautiful and eyes which just bore into you. Yes I fell in love. Some people would say it was my own lack of knowledge and naivety but for some time I thought Olivier was a black actor – I like to think it was his extraordinary talent which convinced me. Of course Olivier’s career had started many years before when he had joined the Birmingham Repertory Company in 1926. By the time I sat up and took notice he was an established stage and screen actor. And thank God for those film roles because even today we can all enjoy the Olivier magic. The film which catapulted him to ‘matinee idol’ status was Wuthering Heights (1939) in which he played Heathcliff. Wuthering Heights is my all time favourite novel and I must admit much as I love this film I thought it was all too gentle and nice. I always felt that Olivier was too perfect and beautiful to play the brooding, wild untameable Heathcliff but he did ooze charisma and was very watchable and commanding. However I loved him as Maxim De Winter in Rebecca and as Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (both 1940). Other films included That Hamilton Woman (1941), The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), The Entertainer (1960), Marathon Man (1976), The Jazz Singer (1980) and Wild Geese II (1985). He also produced, directed and played the title roles in Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955). Hamlet was the first British Film, and to date the only film of a Shakespeare play, to win an Oscar for Best Picture and Olivier won an Oscar for Best Actor (the first actor to direct himself to a Best Actor win!). Add to these credits numerous television and stage performances. He was the inaugural Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre and one of the founders and the first Director of the National Theatre Company at the Old Vic (the largest auditorium of the current National Theatre is named after him). In 1984 The Society of London Theatre renamed The Society of West End Theatre Awards, which had been launched in 1976, The Laurence Olivier Awards. I never saw Olivier act on stage but many years ago I attended a special fund-raising performance at the Royal Court and at the very end when the star-studded cast took their curtain call, Olivier made an appearance. I cannot explain the extraordinary atmosphere at that moment. The entire audience on their feet - it was so emotionally charged and I have never experienced anything like it since – that my dears is, in my opinion, true STAR quality. Laurence Olivier was knighted in 1947, was the first actor to be made life peer (1970), and was awarded the Order of Merit in 1981. He was married three times to actresses Jill Esmond (1930-40), Vivien Leigh (1940-1960) and Joan Plowright (1961 until his death in 1989). This is just the tip of a very large iceberg. A really good read if you can get hold of it is Olivier’s autobiography – Confessions of an Actor. ●
Photographer John Vickers, courtesy of the University of Bristol Theatre Collection www.bristol.ac.uk/theatrecollection
Laurence Olivier 1907-1989
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Issue 2 has hit the streets and is packed with many more fantastic interviews, articles and news.The west end is presently ablaze with brigh...
Published on May 10, 2009
Issue 2 has hit the streets and is packed with many more fantastic interviews, articles and news.The west end is presently ablaze with brigh...