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issue 7 | summer 2010

Hey! Mr(S) Producer

The next generation

Theatre Festivals ● Uncle Dudley ● Latitude ● Tax ● Culture


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18 John Williams Photography.co.uk

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16 TS Eliot Exchange

Daniel Boys

From puppets to werewolves, it’s all go for the talented Mr Boys. We corner him during the run of his latest musical.

We’re bang in the middle of Summer 2010 and what a little sizzler it’s been so far! Congratulations to the many graduates who are set to launch themselves into the industry, you’re journey is only just beginning. For those of you about to enrol on a course in the autumn, believe me you’ve got an exciting ride ahead if you’re open and approach your time in training positively. If you’re currently in training, I urge you to relish this time, it’s over before you know it! This issue we catch up with the ever dashing Mr Daniel Boys, currently swapping puppets for werewolves in the West End musical Wolfboy. The next generation of producers are creeping upon us, and Josh Boyd-Rochford has cornered three bright young things set to make their mark on the industry. Not to mention all of our training news, articles and festival highlights. Now then, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in the magazine since we launched in January 2009. Like Simon Cowell, who continually talks about the need to keep his products fresh, we’ve reached a point in the magazine where we recognise the need to spice things up and evolve to meet the demands of our readership. With this in mind, this will be my final edition as Editor of The Drama Student Magazine. It’s been a wonderful 18 months, launching an exciting magazine and thus bringing you seven top issues (your words not mine!). This does not mean it’s the end of the publication or indeed the end of me. I’ll still be around. But you’ll have to wait until the autumn to see what heady plans lie ahead. Adios (bye for now, but not forever!) Enjoy the summer. Phil Matthews Editor

22 Summer Festival

The latest news and opinion from those involved in THE theatrical arts festival of the year – Latitude.

Spotlight Ball

And didn’t Cinderella go to ball! We highlight the stars of the ‘Hollywoodthemed’ bash at the famous Café de Paris.

4 News

Into the Profession 20

30 Student Support

Actor’s Toolbox 32

34 Training

Theatre & Culture 46

48 Never Forget

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40

The First Word 8

15 Uncle Dudley

Photo: Peter Jacobsen

prologue

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40 Photos: AM Photography www.am-london.com

Photo: Matt Crockett

The TS Eliot US/UK Exchange was a huge success, as three participants give their unique views

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news LIBRARY THEATRE CLOSURE July saw the closure of Manchester’s Library Theatre, which has occupied the basement of Manchester’s Central Library for the past 58 years. Following successes such as Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Importance of Being Earnest and Pinnochio, the company bid farewell to their home with a Gala performance on Sunday 4th July, including emotional tributes from stars of the stage and screen. Their new theatre will open in the old Theatre Royal on Peter Street, most recently incarnated as a nightclub. In the meantime the Library Theatre Company will stage their work across the city, including three seasons a year at The Lowry in Salford. www.librarytheatre.com

FREE THEATRE TICKETS FOR KIDS Kids Week in the West End is celebrating a record-breaking year. Sales topped 25,000 in the first day, up six thousand on 2009. Now in its 13th year, Kids Week allows children to attend theatre productions for free to thirty participating shows, ranging from musicals to plays. Speaking about this year’s success, Kids Week organiser Emma De Souza said: “The Society of London Theatre is delighted to announce that 24 hours after the launch of Kids Week in the West End general booking going live, ticket sales stand at just over 25,000 – a staggering increase of 21% when compared with last year’s figures at this stage.” Wicked and Billy Elliot are among the favourite musicals on offer, while plays such as The Railway Children and The 39 Steps are proving real winners. Kids Week, which is operated annually by the Society of London Theatre, runs from 13th to 27th August. Tickets are still available, so log onto the website to see how you can take advantage of the offer. www.kidsweek.co.uk

AVENUE Q RESIDENTS ALL GROWN UP The groundbreaking musical Avenue Q will close in the autumn after four and a half years in the West End. The hilarious show opened at the Noel Coward Theatre to rave reviews, then moved to the Gielgud in 2009. It will play out the rest of its run at Wyndham’s Theatre. The puppets posted a message on Facebook notifying fans of the closure. “We’ve had a great time, it’s been a real ball”, says Katie

Monster. “But I think we’ve all grown up and got our sights set on living in a more up-market part of town. And Trekkie Monster wants to be somewhere with a better broadband connection.” The final performance will be on 30th October. If you haven’t seen this show, get your ticket now, it’s not to be missed! www.avenueqthemusical.co.uk

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news

LONDON’S FIRST FESTIVAL FRINGE London is gearing up for its first ever Fringe Festival this August. The London Festival Fringe aims to bring together theatre, comedy, literature, film, music, dance and visual art. The London Fringe is all the art and performance that goes on in this city throughout the year that is not in the big venues such as the South Bank Centre and the West End theatres. There are thousands of artists and performers who live, work in and visit London who do wonderful events and performances in the London Fringe. The London Festival Fringe aims to provide a focus for marketing and publicity, and an infrastructure to make it easy for companies to put on events, get audiences and sell tickets. The launch took place at the Actor’s Church in Covent Garden on 6th July. The Festival will run between 2nd until 27th August. www.londonfestivalfringe.com

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news LAMDA Appoints New Principal The London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA) – the UK’s oldest drama school and largest statutory speech and drama awarding body – has announced the appointment of Joanna Read as its new Principal. Joanna will lead the Academy from September, succeeding Peter James who is stepping down after 16 years. Announcing the news, LAMDA Chairman Luke Rittner said: “We are delighted to have found Joanna Read. Her appointment follows an extensive search for a suitable candidate who would combine artistic flair and experience with strong business acumen and the vision to drive LAMDA forward, building on Peter’s success. Joanna possesses all of these qualities in abundance and makes LAMDA history as our first female Principal.” Joanna Read brings 20 years of experience in the profession to the role. As Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the Salisbury Playhouse between 1999 and 2007, she steered the theatre to a position of financial stability, while also leading a successful major capital development programme. The Academy believes this tenure, combined with her recent experience as a freelance director, lecturer and tutor, will make Joanna an ideal successor to Peter James. Commenting on her appointment, Ms Read said: “LAMDA is a world class drama school and a much loved institution. I am delighted to be offered the opportunity to lead the Academy through its next stages of development. I look forward to working with its talented students and committed staff, who make the Academy such a power house within the industry.” www.lamda.org.uk

SUMMER SCHOOL AT FAIRFIELD HALLS EduStage will be running a non-residential Musical Theatre Summer School for teenagers for the first time at The Fairfield Halls, Croydon from 9th to 13th August. There is no pre-audition process and places are offered on a first come first served basis. On the first day all participants are given the opportunity to show any skills they have in acting, singing and dancing and are helped by professional directors to develop these throughout the week. The musical they will work on is an original piece called Just Wanna Be Heard. It features a gang of teenagers, including Echo who is arrested for doing graffiti. Echo is given community service at the local art gallery and his life is turned around by the people he meets

on his journey. The show contains the number We All Have a Talent which is indeed the theme of the show and all the participants will have their opportunity to shine! This course was originally run in 2008 at The Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham where it was twice oversubscribed. On the final afternoon of the summer school the participants perform the musical fully costumed in the Ashcroft Theatre at The Fairfield Halls in front of an invited audience. contact Jeffrey Whitton on 020 8673 1864 or jeffreyw@tiscali.co.uk. The cost is only £135 for the whole week including tickets to the performance (subject to availability) for all the family and friends. Sibling rate £120. Places are strictly limited.

Sir Richard Eyre new role as President Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance has announced that Sir Richard Eyre, the stage and film director and former Director of Britain’s Royal National Theatre, has agreed to become the college’s first President. Sir Richard, like two other theatrical knights who are also University Chancellors – Sir Peter Hall at Kingston University and Sir Patrick Stewart at University of Huddersfield – will “use his considerable talents and experience to help promote the college and its students during a challenging period of change and growth,” said Rodney Gent, Chair of the Board of Governors. Sir Richard said that he was pleased with the school’s offer. “The theatre, film and television professions need talented, trained young people to refresh the artistic world that I’ve been part of for so many years,” he said. “Without the kind of training that this college fosters, that world will diminish and, eventually, die. Any prospective student who is passionate and determined about performance, design and technical arts in any theatrical medium will find at Rose Bruford a place that fosters the necessary imagination, skill and knowledge to pursue it as a career.” www.bruford.ac.uk

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news SYLVIA YOUNG ON THE MOVE It’s the most famous child stage school in the UK, having assisted in launching the careers of Denise Van Outen, Billy Piper, Amy Winehouse and Tamsin Outhwaite with its mix of drama, singing, dancing and music. Now Sylvia Young Theatre School, currently based in Marylebone, is on the move to larger premises to accommodate the increasing pupil numbers. The private school will be in a position to increase its intake to 200 pupils, up from its present 160. The Daily Mail quotes owner Sylvia Young on the schools achievement: “The school’s success is down to our tight-knit community – many of our teachers have been here since the beginning.” The new building will open close by and will consist of five floors, housing their full time and part time schools. www.sylviayoungtheatreschool.co.uk

GSA launches MT Singing Exams GSA is launching an exciting new Musical Theatre Singing Examination Syllabus, ranging from Grades 1 - 8 through to Diploma and Fellowship levels. With a proven track record and an international reputation as a centre of excellence, GSA can confidently provide a realistic benchmark for those who enjoy singing musical theatre repertoire as a recreational activity, as well as for those who wish to take their training to a higher level. Rather than a syllabus concentrating on generalised skills, the GSA Musical Theatre Graded Singing Examinations syllabus aims to nurture strengths in singing and performance, along with a growing knowledge of the background to Musical Theatre.

Chief Examiner, Ross Campbell, cannot wait to meet the first cohort of examinees.“The GSA Musical Theatre Graded Singing Examinations are designed to encourage and stimulate performers of any age,” he says. “They can work their way through the grades from 1 to 8, whether for personal enjoyment or with the aim of a career in the profession, with pride and confidence in the standards which these examinations represent. Ultimately, if they wish, candidates can progress on to a Diploma and Licentiate in Performance and/or Teaching of Singing, and eventually a Fellowship of GSA, so becoming a lifelong contributor to and ambassador of the ethos and philosophy of the School.” www.gsa.surrey.ac.uk

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Kathy Trevelyan is no ordinary drama student. Proving it’s never too late to pursue your passion, at fifty-five her journey as an actor is only just beginning.

Shine her time to

the first word

In April I wrote to Phil Matthews, Editor of The Drama Student, to highlight the relative invisibility of older students in the magazine and the wider drama student world. I wasn’t really expecting a reply, and I certainly wasn’t expecting the challenge that Phil offered me – writing about my own experience for this column! I am fifty-five and just coming to the end of the first year of the two year full-time training at The Actor Works. I still sometimes feel astonished that I am doing this – it’s certainly taken me long enough! In a way I have done things backwards: having children young, becoming a single mum and spending my time looking after my children and working to keep us afloat. But I always found time to fit in some acting, singing, and dancing. I went to dance classes, sang in choirs, joined a community theatre group and did some summer courses. I loved being a mum, still do, but always, at the back of my mind, was an ‘if only’. If only I could go to drama school and become an actor. I remember phoning RADA when I was in my late thirties. They told me that thirty-six was the maximum age. I also found out what it costs to go to drama school. Ah well, no chance then. At forty three I started to work as an ‘Extra’ – perhaps that would be a way into acting? It was fascinating to be in TV studios and on film sets. I ended up doing this for six years, but however much fun it was to find myself on the set of Eastenders, The Bill, or dressed up in period costume in Nicholas Nickleby or Bedazzled, it was also frustrating. I wanted to be one of the actors, not part of the background. However, it paid the bills and I did learn a lot, and I got used to seeing how I look on screen – never easy! I had had enough of being an extra, and decided to train as a Tour Guide. I qualified in 2003. A lot of what I do is storytelling – Ghost Walks in the City of London, trips to Stonehenge and Oxford, tours of the Tower of London etc. And so many guides are also actors! Mind you, they became guides after having found that they needed another job to fill in the bits between acting work! I had the ‘I want to be an actor’ thing suppressed for a while. Then I saw the RSC’s History Plays at the Roundhouse in 2007 and bang, there I was again. It was after seeing the three Henry VIs in a day. I’d expected

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to be bored and fidgety – nine hours of Shakespeare in a day. But, my God. I came out at the end clutching my programme and feeling so overwhelmed I burst into tears. By two in the morning I had signed up online to a short course. Here we go again! This time was different though. I knew that this was my last chance. Already in my fifties, it was now or never. I couldn’t bear the thought of getting old and regretting that I’d never really gone for it. Before I had been surrounded by people who thought it was a farfetched desire, this acting bug of mine. Now I had friends who were actors and they said ‘why not?’ I was lucky to find ‘Propel Acting’, a Saturday course run by Simon Trinder. Simon gave me the confidence to believe in myself – he didn’t find it odd that I wanted to be an actor at my age. I still didn’t think any drama schools would take me seriously but I began to look around. While working on All Clean, an improvised film, I met Debra Baker, a fabulous actor, and she told me about The Actor Works. They do a two year full-time evening and weekend course, so I would still be able to work, and therefore eat and pay the bills. If I could get a place. I auditioned in May last year and could not believe it when I found out that I had been accepted! I walked around in a daze for ages! But here I am, and loving every minute. The Actor Works is run by Daniel Brennan, and is the only school in the UK based on the work of Viola Spolin. Daniel and his team of teachers are truly inspiring and we are all learning and growing as actors every term. I will be 57 when I graduate next summer – ancient perhaps, but that’s not how I feel. I don’t feel any different from my lovely classmates, all of whom are younger than my kids! I love feeling challenged and stretched, finding places inside myself that just needed help to open up. We work hard, we dance, we sing, we do Physical Theatre, Speech and Voice classes, Improvisation, put on plays and go down the pub. It’s hard and wonderful, and I’m exactly where I should be. If there are any other older people out there interested in this crazy career, please don’t be put off! In a way I should have done this years ago, but the life experience I have is an advantage. If you want to act – DO IT. You could always come and join me at The Actor Works! ●


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It is a minor obsession of mine that I purchase a programme every time I go to the theatre. Not every show, but every time. Hence I have several copies of the same programme. It’s something I may one day decide to discuss in therapy, but for the purposes of this article, there is actually a point to this anecdote. Bear with me. Like most of us I suspect, I first turn to the cast list, seeking out names I know (“Why are they working and I’m not?”), excitedly recalling people whose showcases I have seen, people I trained with, worked with, interviewed. Then I’ll check the creative team, casting director (of course), the usual relevant details. I’ll avidly scour the other credits, the technical side, the FOH staff, the crew. Those names who are not so well known, without whom this production would never have got off the ground in the first place. I’ve been doing this for years. I can ooh and aah over a technical manager I recall working as one of dozens of ASM’s on a show ten years ago, or the Costume Supervisor I remember making their first nervous fumblings as a dresser. I love this progression in theatre, not just the actor who works their way up, but that each of us are engaged on our own personal journey, learning, improving, advancing, even changing direction. I wonder how many Theatre Manager’s started out as FOH staff in the evenings while pursuing their dreams of acting by day? A fair few I imagine. In recent years however, my particular favourite credit is the Producer. It’s a valid argument in theatre that Shakespeare and his contemporaries crafted the Age of the Playwright, Henry Irving and William Charles Macready flourished in the Age of the Actor/Manager, while Nunn and Hands trail-blazed the Age of the Director. Now, many argue, we are immersed in the Age of the Celebrity, I am of the opinion that presently, as never before, we are in the Age of the Producer. The role is myriad and challenging; how many of us would venture to accurately detail a job description? A glance at the top twenty of The Stage 100, a list of the most powerful people in theatre is startlingly revealing. Six of the top ten are, if not exclusively, producers in one way or another, including the three at the

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top. It’s a powerful position to be in, and one that is held in affectionate, albeit revered esteem. In the industry they are known simply by one name, Madonna-style. Or, at least a nickname. Cameron, The Lord, Kevin, Mr & Mrs Theatre, Nica, Sonia, Bill. The Drama Student caught up with three of the next generation of Producers, to find out what makes them tick. James Quaife, Luke Sheppard and Tania Wilkinson, are three bright talents who are well known in the industry despite their age, and who are already carving out illustrious careers. There is a perception that all producers are either an actor-manqué or a director-manqué, and to an extent this is true for all three of them. “I wasn’t as good a director as I wanted to be,” laughs 25 year old Quaife, while Wilkinson, 27, admits: “Like a lot of people who want to work in theatre, I was interested in being an actor and had the intention to audition for drama school after my degree.” “Actually, I consider myself predominately to be a director and also a choreographer,” 23 year old Sheppard, counters. “I don’t mind producing one of my own shows, but I would never bill something as Luke Sheppard Produces – I only really produce for my own company, and I work with a team of co-producers.” For all three though, the route into producing has been similar. “I got into producing when I was asked to produce the Bristol leg of the 24hour Plays,” explains Sheppard. “After that I thought, hold on, I’ve organised that, I can now go and organise things at the Edinburgh Fringe. It was Edinburgh where I honed my skills. I had two shows up there that made money and we brought them down to London, to Theatre 503 and then to Jermyn Street.” Likewise, Wilkinson followed a comparable path. “I studied Drama & English at UWE and was asked to direct something. I directed two shows in my 2nd and 3rd years and took them both up to Edinburgh, then trained as an Assistant Director at LAMDA, on the postgrad course. I freelanced as an AD for a couple of years, then fell into producing.” Quaife recalls: “I started as a theatre steward, I worked as a lighting


closeup

James Quaife (far left) and Luke Sheppard (above)

designer and I’d trained as a director and did an MA in directing. I saw how actors were being treated and how the organisation behind some of the productions on the fringe wasn’t very good, and so I made a snap decision to become a producer and as soon as I did, I literally produced four shows at the Finborough. Theatre in London.” Quaife generally inclines toward musical theatre. “It’s a bit wanky”, he laughs. “But it ten years I really want to be able to shape theatre. I can remember at Uni, talking about people who inspired me, and I sort of want to be an inspiration. Particularly in musical theatre, that’s my passion. I want to produce in the West End and on Broadway.” Wilkinson meanwhile, has forged an impressive career in the field of new writing. “I’ve worked with really strong new writing brands,” she explains. “Like Theatre 503, and The Bush and nabokov, and now I’m about to start working at Paines Plough. I think if you accept that you are doing new writing, then you accept that the audience is a bit more niche. But the positive is, you have an extremely loyal audience who are prepared to take the risk.” Sheppard’s company, Take Note, produces mainly musical theatre, which helps Sheppard balance his other roles as Director and Choreographer. “I produce because I have to,” he explains. “It’s how I can make the work that I want to make. It’s not really something I choose to do as my career, and I always try to make sure that after I’ve produced something, I line up a project where I can use my creative talents. There is a creative side to producing though, which I really do enjoy.” Quaife agrees: “Some producers are heavily into creativity. I respect the director very much, and the work that’s going on the stage, but there is a creativity in the marketing of it, the life of the show – that’s where your creativity comes out.” Which brings us to the question – what does a producer do? “Makes things happen,” answers Sheppard. “Oversees something, perhaps from incarnation,” offers Wilkinson. “Many people say the buck stops with the director,” Sheppard continues, qualifying his statement. “I think the buck stops with the

producer. A good quality producer finds the product, develops it and brings a framework of everything that is needed to make it happen. You have to take the high with lows, the pressure is enormous.” Wilkinson sees her role in a similar light “It’s organising the teams and liaising with a director and lighting designer and sound designer; helping them with the casting, and fundraising and creating that budget and overseeing press and marketing. And then being around, being a support, being a confidant for everyone. I think you have to carry a lot of the weight of the tensions that can go in the rehearsal room.” Quaife too, mentions teamwork as being key to producing. “You bring a team together,” he explains. “You’re supporting the director, supporting the actors and bringing the production to life. You’re bringing in reviewers to come and review it, you’re looking at an extended life. And while that project is going on, you’re working on another project, a future show, and trying to keep yourself sustained and floating really. A lot of it is down to money.” Ah yes, money. The idea that a producer is simply a fundraiser for the director to indulge their imaginative processes. “I think there’s so much more to it,” Wilkinson throws back. “In the commercial sector, there’s a lot of that, actually even on the fringe. You do have to fundraise, and that takes a lot of guts and being savvy. It’s a part of it, but it’s not the whole job.” “Several producers are very much on the money,” explains Quaife. “Spreadsheets, and looking at sponsorship. I’m in between the two. I enjoy the money side of producing but I also have the creative side in me. A lot of it comes down to creativity, getting it out there, getting people talking about it.” “Some people say that a producer finds the money,” agrees Sheppard. “And to an extent that’s true, there are shows out there where someone is billed as a producer because they have invested. And you are looking at getting those audiences in and making a return on the investment, making a profit.” In the current economic climate, finding that money must be quite

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difficult? “A lot of people think you can only produce if you come from a wealthy family and have access to money,” says Sheppard, “but I don’t think that’s true.” “Some people do have a wealthy network they can go to,” acknowledges Wilkinson. “But it really helps being very good at filling in application forms for trusts and foundations.” Traditionally, the role of a producer has been learned hands-on, and despite courses like the Creative Producing course at Birkbeck and the Stage One Bursary award, Quaife, Wilkinson and Sheppard all agree that nothing really compares to on-the-job learning. “I’ve always been of the school that you have some understanding of the role if you’ve done it yourself,” says Wilkinson. “It’s totally more important to learn on the job. Theatre is not shy of accepting free labour or labour for expenses,” she laughs. “And that’s how you build relationships. Every single job that I’ve volunteered for, all those relationships are still in great health and prospering and they have helped to get me employment. It definitely helps to have an understanding of people and to understand their pace and if you spend time with people you get to understand how they work and that’s a real skill of a producer.” Likewise, Quaife notes: “I look back at my studies and deep down I wish I’d just gone out there and started doing it. I’ve learned so much actually doing a project and actually working on it and coming up with ways to solve problems. I think what Birkbeck and Central, and Stage One do, is very valuable to a producer, but it’s not until you actually get out there in the industry that you can really benefit from that.” “The contacts I’ve made through working with producers in various shows, in the West End and in regional theatre, have really taught me a lot of the skills,” admits Sheppard. “I’ve worked with people who have had shows that have failed miserably and with people who have had shows that have run for more than twenty years – they’ve experienced the good times and the bad times. Having advice from those people has really, really helped.”

“I got a Stage One Bursary,” Wilkinson explains. “And we had fabulous people speaking, like Andrew Treagus. Stage One enabled me to produce a show at Trafalgar Studio’s last year.” “Stage One is widely regarded as one of the best ways to get into producing and make a career happen,” agrees Sheppard. So what advice would our three young producers offer? “It’s not a back up career,” states Sheppard. “It’s something you want to do. If you want a back up career, go work on the admin side. You have to be prepared for it to take over your life. I think you have to really chase it, just like any career in theatre.” “It’s about choosing that project which you believe in and you have passion for,” says Quaife. “It’s about the love, the belief, the passion for the show, but also the harsh reality - if you put this on - will people come and see it? Believe in yourself. It’s so important to have a team behind you; work with the best, at least aim high for the best directors, the best lighting designers. They can always say no, but at some point they might say yes and if you have that amazing team behind you, and you have that amazing project, then just take that leap of faith and see what happens.” “Look out for brilliant internships,” concludes Wilkinson. “The Old Vic, The Bush, the Royal Court, they all do brilliant internships. Obviously the smaller theatres like Paines Plough, or nabokov or Theatre 503 are all desperate for help from people who have drive, passion, energy and enthusiasm. Get Up, Get Out and Do. And when you get an interview, make sure you know what that theatre is about, that you know who their audience is, that you’ve been to that theatre and you can talk about the work and around the work. Start to have conversations with fellow practitioners so that you can build that dialogue and learn and ease communication. And go and see lots of theatre, look at who’s directed it, and who’s lit it and who cast it and the cast and who produced it. It’s really important to build that knowledge.” So perhaps my compulsive programme buying isn’t such a waste after all. ●

Biography Notes Quaife James

James, 25, is Artistic Director of James Quaife Productions. He has been producing for 2 years and his recent successes include Painting a Wall by David Lan, Death of Long Pig by Nigel Planer, Little Fish by Micahel John La Chuisa, Orpheus by Kenneth McLeish, Moliere by Mikhail Bulgakov (translation by Michael Glenny). He is currently producing The 24hr Plays for the Old Vic, and recently organised the TS Eliot UK/ US Exchange.

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Wilkinson Tara

Tara is 27 and Producer at Paines Plough. She is a Creative Associate of nabokov and Associate Producer for Forward Theatre Project and Liquid Theatre. She studied English & Drama at the University of the West of England before training at LAMDA on the postgraduate directors course. She produced The Final Shot by Ben Ellis for Theatre 503 before joining The Bush Theatre where she worked as a Producer. She received a Stage One Bursary in 2009 and produced Public Property by Sam Peter Jackson at the Trafalgar Studios.

Sheppard Luke

Luke is 23 and he studied Drama at the University of Bristol, before being awarded the inaugural Noël Coward Trainee Director Bursary to train at Salisbury Playhouse. He produced the Bristol leg of The 24hr Plays. He is the founder, Artistic Director and Choreographer for Take Note Theatre who have had recent success with The Great British Soap Opera, Jet Set Go, Chat, and First Lady Suit. Luke is currently Assistant Director on Into The Woods at The Open Air Theatre, Regents Park.


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Charlie Rutherford asks how faithful the entertainment industry is to their respectful partners. Recently news broke that Mark Owen had been a naughty boy, confessing to cheating on his wife Emma with around ten different women before their wedding last year. Not long after that, we find out Ronan Keating enjoys riding more than just roller-coasters. Oh come on, I’m allowed one cheap gag, aren’t I? So, all of this got me thinking. Is infidelity more widespread amongst those working in the entertainment industry? If so, why so? I used to work in Musical Theatre as a leading man towards the end of the 90s with a passionate group of fellow thesps. If Facebook existed at the time, our ‘Relationship Status’ would be permanently set to “It’s Complicated” for we were forever at it with our co-stars, knowing fine well they had partners waiting patiently back home or on another tour. I really was incapable of resisting an affair with whatever beautiful female co-star I was fortunate to play opposite. In most cases, the gorgeous girl in question was involved elsewhere. Looking back, I guess that was the thrill. I was in my prime and nobody was going to stop me having my cake and all that. Not even the little man on my shoulder whose name I’ve since learned – “Mr Conscience.” Did I really not have an ounce of guilt back then? Could I have been that selfish? Well at the time, I would justify my actions by convincing myself their boyfriend was probably doing the same. In some cases, I even convinced myself we were in love and eventually we would be together. Now, of course, I do look back with a hint of remorse. I built up this uneasy reputation as “the guy who made boyfriend’s jealous”, which of course resulted in some uncomfortable conversations when confronted by “the better half” at the wrap party. Certainly my nose wished I’d kept my ding dong in the bell tower. Thankfully, I never quite earned the status of “The Live Adulterer” as did one actor we knew. His name will remain emphatically confidential, I’m not a total sell out. Without going into too much detail, every night when acting out a cosy scene at the top of Act 2, underneath the bed covers live on stage no less, it became rather apparent that both actors were enjoying the intensity of the scene really rather more than they should have! He was married, she was dating the director. So, I pose the question, is infidelity in the entertainment industry rife ten years on? I would think so. My sweeping generalisation that the industry is a bunch of sex crazed maniacs, intent on having as many extra curriculum encounters as possible, may well be met with a raised eyebrow, and I certainly don’t want to scare all you loved-up future showbiz couples about to graduate. Yet there is something to be said about working with other attractive, fit, and talented colleagues when away from home. Actors are close at any rate and more flirtatious than the norm. Mix that with kissing every night as the star-crossed lovers and it’s a potential recipe for a three course and no doubt complex ‘how’s your Father’ feast. You’ll be pleased to know, I’m now happily married with three charming children, my heady, reckless days well behind me. Then again, I’m now an accountant. ●

  Come and record your voice reel in the relaxed setting of Sans Walk Spoken Word, a high-spec recording studio in Clerkenwell, London  (near Farringdon Underground and National Rail). • Sans Walk has recorded over  audiobooks and radio productions with all the well-known voices in the industry • Come and share their experience • You will be coached to give your best possible performance by Tamsin Collison, radio and audiobook producer and Radio Drama Tutor/Director at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts • Packages start from £ including CDs • Student discounts available • On-site photo studio for headshots as part of some packages Contact us to find out more: 020 7324 0123 or e-mail: voices@sanswalk.co.uk website: www.sanswalk.co.uk/voicereels.html ‘I really enjoy recording at Sans Walk and always look forward to going back. They are professional, knowledgeable and friendly. Tamsin Collison is highly experienced and really knows the industry; she takes the time to put you at your ease so that you are able give the best possible performance. – Becky Wright (Nic Hanson in The Archers)

www.sanswalk.co.uk

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Are you from Canada or the United States? Are you a graduate of one of the NCDT-accredited acting programmes from a UK training institution? writes Knight Hooson. If you are, then you might want to consider joining your fellow North American actors as a member of NAAA – The North American Actors Association. “NAAA is the only organisation representing professional North American actors living in the UK,” says Cheryl Anderson, the NAAA Chairperson. NAAA has recently elected to open their membership ranks to graduates. What’s in it for you? “Membership first and foremost gives a presence on the NAAA website (www.NAAA.org.uk) where casting personnel can search and obtain a direct link to each actor’s Spotlight page,” says Cheryl. “The weekly email bulletin relays casting notices, information about courses, members’ performances, ticket deals and news of interest to our members. But more than that, NAAA is a community of actors with the shared experience of being North American working and living in a foreign country. Our regular guest speaker evenings (where past guests have included Julius Green from Bill Kenwright Productions and casting director Dan Hubbard) and social events allow the membership to actually meet up, chat and support each other.” The North American Actors Association was formed in 1997 in direct response to the dissolution of the North American Artists Committee, the advisory sub-committee of British Equity that had dealt with issues relevant to North American actors based in the UK. With the removal of this committee, the North American acting community felt they had lost a voice within the industry. The need remained for a group to address the issues and problems that affected these actors as expatriate workers in a foreign industry – and thus NAAA was born, an independent, nonprofit organisation, run by, and for, North American actors resident and working legally in the UK. NAAA benefits from a strong pool of actors, many of whom act regularly in the West End, at the National Theatre, on tour, in regional theatre and in films and television. There are also members who are

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very active in the voiceover and gaming industries. The information and contacts from within the organisation are invaluable for those who are starting their careers in the UK. And NAAA has become the go-to place for casting directors looking for authentic North American accents. “Casting directors know that they can come to our website and access dozens of genuine American and Canadian actors all in one place,” explains Cheryl. “That is our strength. We provide a single source of the ‘genuine thing’ who are professionally trained and living and working without restriction in the UK.” “We are very excited to introduce this graduate membership to NAAA. We want to welcome graduates from accredited theatre training courses in the UK, who are legally able to work in either the US or Canada and are able to remain and work without restriction in the UK after they have graduated. We know that there is now a post training work visa available and we feel that these young actors would benefit from the support and information that NAAA can provide during those first years of their professional lives here in the UK. And for those who are lucky enough to have EU passports or ancestry visas, we hope to continue to provide the benefits of membership throughout their career in the UK.” Look out for NAAA’s annual playreading festival which presents the best of new North American writers. Plays are selected from a competition and are directed by professional directors and performed, script in hand, by NAAA members. This year the festival moves to Central School of Speech and Drama and launches on September 6th. This is a great industry showcase for both the playwrights and NAAA members. Come and check them out. To learn more, visit www.naaa.org.uk, or follow NAAA on Twitter (twitter.com/NAAAUK) or Facebook (search for North American Actors Association).


on the campaing trail Equity is a campaigning and organising union with a long track record of taking the things that matter to artists to parliament and other centres of influence. Equity lobbies governments, employers and others on issues such as funding, agency regulation, National Insurance status, entertainment licensing, venue closures, BBC licence fee, tax structure  for film-makers, credits, intellectual property rights, artistic freedom and many other subjects that affect our members and the industry as a whole. Members are at the heart of all campaigning – they bring issues to the union to get backing and support and they get involved in campaigns by attending demos, completing questionnaires and surveys, signing petitions, voting, sending in postcards, writing letters, circulating hyperlinks, following Equity on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. Student members take part in all of this activity and contribute to the campaigning success of the union. Two of Equity’s current campaigns that will impact on performers’ careers: Stop the Credits Crunch Television credits don’t get much respect anymore. They flash past at almost unreadable speeds or they’re crammed into a tiny corner of the screen while trailers flash up for other programmes or an announcer talks over them urging you to keep watching or turn over or watch something else. But, credits are important. They’re important for performers and creative professionals, for whom recognition can be crucial to future work. Go to our campaign website and have your say on this issue that may affect your future employment www.stopthecreditscrunch.com Respect for the Arts Manifesto is about putting in place new structures and new ways of working that will take our tradition of producing great theatre and wonderful television and put it on firm foundations for the future. It’s about taking the best of public service broadcasting and subsidised theatre and ensuring that underlying ethos survives while the organisations and structures intended to deliver the arts are reformed, fit for the next generation of audiences and artists. See what’s going on by following the Manifesto links from our home page. The website is also a portal to the new government’s programme for Culture, Media and Sport, so you can see their plans and make your views and comments directly. Being a part of Equity gives you a voice and a pathway to influencing what happens in your industry. Take the opportunity and let people know what you think.

Dudley by Michael Culkin

TENNACITY WINS I caught Stanley Park, a pilot, on BBC3, the other night. I don’t have time to sit flicking through vacuous TV channels, but Stanley Park had something, I’d heard the story before! A few years ago I Ivy’d with a slew of talented youth, the class of 2007 probably. They were either in History Boys West End or wanted to be. Among the noise of so much talent, energy, and beauty someone told a story he said he was going to turn into a play. I am old enough to have heard that assertion too many times. I’ve made it myself. I’ve sung numbers from instant Musicals that got nowhere, the energy of the idea dissipated by early exposure. But this was different, this tale had something, and I listened. It was, as I recall, the story of him falling for his best mates older brother, and then discovering that in fact, his best mates older brother was gay, what are the chances. It was a bittersweet story with some pretty nasty repercussions, but nonetheless it stuck. I remembered it. Join the dots, you can fill in the rest. It was this tale that was now pumping my flat screen on BBC3. And it wasn’t half bad. I know that critical comparisons with Skins were made but then we didn’t all watch Skins. (I was afraid that the thought police might break down my door for doing so at 57 years old.) The lesson here is blunt. Leo Richardson, the writer, had tenacity. He had AN idea and he clung to his belief in that idea. He constantly nurtured and developed the idea. He told the tale to anyone who would listen. He told it hundreds of times and always with the same energy and brio. Leo was developing a career out of his story. He was making a future for himself. Telling his tale. He also worked at it. He did write the play. It was work-shopped at the NT Studio, and went on to the West End, or the fringes at least. And then turns up as a pilot on the BBC. Okay yes, it was an interesting story, but not that unusual. Many of us may have equally enthralling stories BUT will we believe in them enough to say so like Leo? Do you believe in your tale? In yourself sufficiently to know you are interesting? Not a carbon of your favourite, and not simply committed to success but worth the attention? It can take many years to settle on your story, to know and accept yourself well enough to tell your tale. A little success early on can help to crystallise this but you still have to be able to recognise it. When I was much younger I was offered an opportunity. A BBC Producer liked my energy and particularly my ‘camp wit’. This terrified me! Someone had spotted my ‘camp wit’ and wanted to put it on the telly. No thank you! I walked away from the opportunity because back then I was unhappy with my tale. Happy with my tale these days I’ve invited Leo back to the Ivy to congratulate him, he’s too busy... If it’s a good idea, I’ll ask him again... and again...

www.equity.org.uk

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A novel initiative pioneered by London’s Old Vic Theatre and the TS Eliot Estate saw fifty young theatre-makers travel to New York in April and May this year. It allowed young actors, playwrights, directors and producers to both showcase their work at New York’s Public Theater, and participate in a programme of presentations, workshops and masterclasses.

Teunkie van der Sluijs Taking part in the exchange as a director, seeing how immensely resourceful American theatre-makers need to be in getting their work produced in a climate that knows virtually no government funding for the arts is immensely inspiring. Compared to London, far fewer initiatives seem to exist in New York where young practitioners can develop new work. It is stimulating to witness how Stateside peers negotiate between industry demands and uncompromised personal aesthetic and vision. Perhaps one can question how long New York will manage to hold on to its position as theatre capital of the US. As Michael Billington recently remarked in an article on the American transfer of Enron, the opening and early closure of which coincided with our visit, new American theatre seems to be thriving predominantly in regional hubs like Chicago, away from the fierce commercial pressures of Broadway. But that ignores two important facets of the New York scene. An immense cultural counter-

reaction to Broadway’s dominance sees an experimental and innovative theatre movement thriving like an all-year-long Edinburgh Fringe. More importantly, the financial scope that Broadway success brings allows New York producers to invest back into the development of new work, a function commercial British producers tend to leave to the subsidised sector. On a personal level, taking part in the exchange opened some doors to a few of the powerhouses of American theatre. What that will bring in the long run is uncertain, but as with anything in this industry, you need to keep planting seeds and expanding your network. And as with all travelling, it hugely broadened the mind. Teunkie van der Sluijs trained at Rose Bruford College and runs AngloDutch company Studio Dubbelagent. This season he will be directing at the Theatre Royal The Hague in his native Netherlands, and is trainee director at the Orange Tree Theatre Richmond. Recently, his production Yasser transferred to the Chopin Theatre Chicago after an acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe run.

Phil Matthews It was almost over before it started. The check-in guy frowned as he looked at my passport. This didn’t look good. “Your ticket has been booked under your middle name – Karl.” The strict US rules on VISAwaiver mean you have to apply for a special code online beforehand, unless I applied for another under Karl Philip Matthews, I would not be going. These things happen, I thought. “Oh - you have 10 minutes before we close the flight.” Agghh! As I made a mad dash to the internet café, I couldn’t help but panic. I really wanted this. Who wouldn’t? Calamity averted, I was back in the game. I arrived in Manhattan and was greeted by my ‘buddy’, American actor Adam Kern, who I would be staying with for the duration. Adam was a diamond, we immediately hit it off and throughout my stay he could not have been more attentive. That was what this trip was about, forging key friendships and associates in the hope that one day collaborations would be made creatively.

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Director

Actor

The exchange for the actors was intense, but absolutely awe-inspiring. Living and learning life as an actor in the city that never sleeps, was remarkable. Workshops with companies such as The Wooster Group opened our eyes to a different way of working artistically. This avant-garde theatre company’s pieces are constructed with groups of actors using juxtapose movements taken from elements of video footage. What translates is a collective, almost choreographed movement where modern and classical text is then explored simultaneously. How refreshing to explore a new technique that throws up many fascinating, previously unexplored moments for both the performer and audience alike. Working with a group of American directors, led by Ari Edelson, was thought-provoking. It soon hit the British actors how devoted stateside


connections Veronica Humphris Producer In April, I was lucky enough to be selected from nearly 1,000 applicants. Organised by the Old Vic Theatre and supported by the TS Eliot Foundation, a company of actors, writers, directors and producers was formed on both sides of the Atlantic - in London and New York. The UK company travelled to New York at the end of April. As it was the first time that I had been to the city - I had no idea what to expect. However, even if you have never been to New York, you encounter a bizarre sense of déjà vu. The yellow cabs, the numbered streets and avenues, the imposing brownstone houses with their metal fire escapes and brightly lit Broadway theatres do seem strangely familiar from novels, movies and television. On our first day of the trip, getting over our jetlag, we had a little time to soak in the tourist areas of the city as a group. We grabbed a hotdog in Central Park, gawped at the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty through the mist and joined the tourists in the Stardust diner. Nothing can prepare you for the awesome whirling circus that is Times Square. I remember coming up out of the subway and not being able to shut my open mouth. The towering billboards that are in fact gigantic, moving video screens cover every available space - and are completely overwhelming. Piccadilly circus is not a patch on this advertisers paradise. We didn’t spend long as tourists though, as we had meetings to attend and a showcase to prepare. As producers we were lucky enough to meet some of Broadways most well respected producing talent, including David Stone - the mastermind behind the global phenomenon Wicked and Michele Steckler, the Vice President of Disney Theatrical. We learnt about how these producers at the top of their profession calculate which productions to take to Broadway and assess their potential for the riskiest investment opportunity in theatre. It was comforting to realise that although there are a myriad of factors which must be considered when judging a production’s ability to succeed in such a marketplace, it is essentially luck that separates the Wicked’s from the Enron’s. The most exciting part of the trip was the two days of rehearsals we were allowed to prepare 7 new pieces of writing, for our showcase event at the Public Theatre. Each piece was 10 mins long, and it was a race against the clock for directors to rehearse each piece in rehearsal rooms around the city, actors to learn lines, writers to make final additions and producers to find all the props and costume. After last-minute technical rehearsals, we came together as a company on the Thursday night, in front of an invited industry audience to present an eclectic mix of new British theatre. I have never felt so proud as when the production came off without a hitch – the reaction from our American counterparts was fantastic and we celebrated until the early hours. Now that the experience is over, I think the company as a whole feel like the adventure has just begun. We have met 50 top young theatre professionals from the UK, and even better, we have started to forge links with 50 US theatre professionals, that will hopefully bring about new transatlantic collaborations, that would not have been possible without this unique exchange programme.

actors are to their craft, keen to vocalise their feelings and hit the demons head on. It stirred a rather interesting debate about how UK actors shy away from discussing their feelings, in favour of just doing. Yet the Americans have a point. Working with these artists, you can see the mentality behind why it is important for them to connect and understand themselves, and each other, in order to make progress in their journey. It’s something that has been encouraged from birth for them, and we opened ourselves up to the process. The week culminated in a showcase, a ten minute piece of original theatre for each group, created by each writer. Performing on The Public Theatre stage was a total joy and although the plays were in a raw state due to the time constraints, the feedback was excellent. The exchange, overall, was brilliant. I have made friends with some extremely talented actors, writers, producers and directors. One of whom I will be working with on a play this summer. I’m certain the programme will lead to many more collaborations and projects.

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pullingfocus

Photo: Matt Crockett

from puppets to

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Werewolf


pullingfocus Since singing his heart out on our screens in 2007 auditioning for the role of Joseph, Daniel Boys has been unstoppable, writes Sarah Clark. From performing in concert alongside John Barrowman, to releasing a stunning debut album and making us laugh until we cried during his run in Avenue Q there seems to be nothing this guy can’t do! He is currently appearing in the London premiere of Wolfboy, and I took the chance to find out just what makes this talented actor tick.

Puppets to werewolves is quite a jump! how does it feel to go from a musical like avenue q to the psycho-sexual thriller of wolfboy? was that a conscious decision to do something really different? It certainly is different! It wasn’t a conscious decision no. The project happened to come along, I was interested, auditioned and got the job! I have loved the opportunity to act in such a dark piece with such complex characters. It’s a joy as an actor to play varied roles.

In

wolfboy you play christian, whose brother bernie has attempted suicide. how did you approach such an emotionally intensive role?

I am fortunate enough to have had a very happy and stable upbringing so it was challenging and difficult to even begin to imagine what my character and the others in the piece are going through. During the rehearsal process we had many long and in depth conversations about the various issues within the piece and I spoke to a few people I know who have experienced them in some way.

People often dismiss musicals as being all jazz hands and tap-dancing, but wolfboy is dark, clever and at times quite scary! do you think it’s important for new musicals to branch out more? Of course I do, yes. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for jazz hands and tapdancing, but how refreshing to see a musical that is so far removed from that. It’s a brave, dark and challenging piece for both the actors involved and the audience watching and that is why I think it’s a success. It would be great to see more musicals like this being produced and written. Musicals aren’t and shouldn’t just be an evening of light hearted fluff.

Everybody in wolfboy has secrets and there’s a lot of tension between them. Is it ever a struggle to keep the suspense going when you’re doing the same show every night? No, never. With a piece like this you can’t ever as an actor not get involved and enveloped in your character. In fact as the run is continuing, I’m finding that all four of us are discovering new things and the suspense and tension is being heightened.

There’s

been a lot of discussion lately about the merits of going to drama school. do you think your training at gsa really set you up to be an actor?

I do yes. Being an actor isn’t just being able to act. It’s about knowing yourself inside out. Three long and hard years of training is inevitably going to strengthen you. Drama schools not only train and develop you in your craft but also prepare you mentally and physically for this tough and competitive profession.

You

obviously became very well known through any dream will do in 2007, and andrew lloyd webber has done several other tv castings. now you’ve been through it do you think that’s a good way of discovering new talent?

I do. I worry that there may have been too many of them now, but its giving us new Musical Theatre stars which we don’t really have in this country anymore. This country doesn’t cherish its theatre actors, like they do in the states for example and that’s a shame. These programs are getting Musical Theatre out into the provinces and in return getting people into London and bringing employment and money into this business.

The

mixture of songs on your album so close seems quite personal. is singing something that’s always been important to you?

Yes very important. I have always loved singing. At 11 I became a chorister in an Abbey choir which I think gave me my training. Then as I grew older my passion for musical theatre developed. I don’t know where I get it from as no one in my family is in the business. My grandfather used to sing and perform in gang shows, so he especially loved the fact that I wanted to perform. My taste in music is very varied and eclectic and I wanted to show that on my album.

Finally, is there anything you wish you’d been told when you were just starting out that you’d like our readers to know? No I don’t think so. Just always follow your dreams and always keep believing in yourself. It’s a tough, cruel profession and can be very hard at times. You have to want it and believe that you can succeed in it at all times. When you are working and performing however there’s nothing quite like it! ●

Wolfboy runs until 31st July 2010 at Trafalgar Studios 2. To book tickets visit www.ambassadortickets.com For more information on Daniel and where to buy his CD, So Close, visit www.danielboys.net

GREGG LOWE AND PAUL HOLOWATY Lowe and Holowaty are two up and coming actors who co-star with Daniel Boys in Wolfboy. TDS catches up with them back stage to talk about the production and their training at Arts Ed and East 15.

Visit The Drama Student Online to read their interview. www.thedramastudent.co.uk

www.wolfboy.info


into the profession

Do you need to be brave or merely mad to become an actor? What does it take to reach the stars? asks Daniella Gibb. “Blessings on your courage boy; that’s the way to the stars” The Aeniad, Virgil. On a list of attributes bravery probably isn’t one of the top ten. Unless you are a fair maiden from fairytale days of yore we tend to score kindness, success or a good sense of humour more favourably in a person when scouring the personal ads. But ‘Actors’ are not “normal everyday people.” I believe we require skills that are more akin to a fourteenth century knight; courage, daring, guts and bravery in order to succeed in our industry. I’m not suggesting you dress up in armour and start jousting or riding through the countryside on a trusty steed (although if you find yourself in Spamalot or Robin Hood or just fancy it, go for it!) I merely mean that actors need to hone their inner strengths and steel themselves

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against all the trials and tribulations that can come your way. Choosing to become an actor is an act of bravery in itself. It takes courage for some to admit to parents, friends and even teachers that you want to pursue this career. I’m sure my English A-level teacher never truly understood my decision to bypass the UCAS form and Oxbridge entrance exams to learn classical and modern speeches for drama school auditions, but at that point I believed that that was the only route for me and so I held firm. I remember sadly that one classmate at drama school didn’t have the support of his parents who thought he was wasting time and money. How tough to go through those three years of intense training and life lessons without being able to phone home


intotheprofession and cry to mum or dad? Or to do your final showcases knowing your family wouldn’t be in the audience rooting for you? But he loved performing with such a passion that he sought support from friends and had courage in his convictions to continue and graduate. So how do we define bravery? The dictionary describes it as “possessing or exhibiting courage.” We can exhibit courage in all areas of life; by stretching oneself beyond our limits, taking a leap of faith, defying critics, facing your fears or performing a selfless act. Acting can be seen as a selfish profession, a pursuit of our own dreams for recognition and applause and so it may seem absurd for me to describe performing as an act of bravery. I am in no way being inappropriate and equating it to jumping from a blazing building or saving a life, merely suggesting that similar traits of bravery can focus and enhance our careers. We certainly possess courage when entering an audition room. Isn’t it a basic human fear to be criticised for our inner selves? And yet we willing enter a room a few times a week to be judged on the very essence of who we are; our voices, our physical appearance and personality. What reasonable person would do that to themselves? It is hard to be told you are too short, you voice isn’t right or you just don’t “fit in the mix” (oh! that old chestnut) but rather than hauling yourself up in a darkened room rocking and mulling over your flaws, take a deep breath and move on. You very rarely do anything wrong and your only defence is to be confident in who you are and what you have to offer. If it doesn’t work for one job, believe it will for another. Nailing the audition invariably means doing the job and that requires even more verve and confidence. Making brave decisions in a rehearsal room without the fear of falling flat on your face and even walking in on the first day to a sea of new faces you may only have seen in programme biography pictures takes guts. Guts to believe that you deserve to be there and to give your all. I believe it is an act of bravery every time we walk on stage or onto set. It is having the courage to override those feelings of nausea, sweating and shallow breaths as you wait for your cue. No one pushes you out onto the stage like a parachute jump from a plane; you decide to walk out there all alone and face the hundreds of people you have never met. Don’t under estimate the courage it takes to do that night after night. It is no surprise that the cry “BRAVO!” roared by appreciative audiences originates from the Spanish word for brave and means bold and untamed, so you truly are being applauded for your bravery at the curtain call! I have recently made a brave decision myself. I have taken a leap from a secure contract in the West End and chosen unemployment and obscurity. “Madness” I hear you and many members of my family cry! Why leave a secure job in an illustrious show especially in such erratic times? Well, sometimes bravery seems like madness. I chose to become an actor because I wanted to challenge myself and attempt a variety of jobs. My aims to be in straight theatre and television won’t happen whilst I am still in musical theatre and so I have said to my agent no more musicals and am hoping and working for the best. Leaving a job for pastures new takes guts and nerve to stick to your decision especially when other people are auditioning and your phone hasn’t rung. But bravery is being true to yourself; knowing what your dreams are and pursuing them. I didn’t feel very brave on my last night as I sobbed through the show, clinging onto each costume as my dresser tried to prise them away! It was reminiscent of when my first Am Dram show finished and I cried in my Mum’s bathroom afterwards for weeks because I missed being Gretl in The Sound of Music! But I believe in my decision and am working on believing in myself, plus I won’t know if I don’t try and regret is much worse than fear. John Armstrong said: “Tis not too late tomorrow to be brave” reassuring us that we have the chance and capability to throw caution to the wind. But why wait until tomorrow? Trust me it is scary, I am writing this almost to convince myself as much as you but I think Virgil was onto something when he wrote The Aeniad. We all strive to aim for the stars whatever our chosen path is, whether by surpassing our expectations of ourselves or aiming literally for the stars on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame! So don that metaphorical armour and face your life head on – make a brave choice, choose the path less travelled and forge ahead with your exciting career as an actor. ●

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festivalspecial

e d u t i t a L

2010

t n e T a p U t u P o T w o H

The legendary Latitude Festival returns for the fifth year. Kicking off a series of features, Josh Boyd-Rochford talks to Arts Curator Tania Harrison. and I start looking and creating my ideal bill of performances around about September and then I start confirming those in January.” With the RSC, the National, the Bush, Paines Plough, Northern Stage, nabokov and the Lyric, just some of the names regularly on the line up at Latitude, it’s certainly representative of a vibrant theatrical zeitgeist. Contained within this beautiful Suffolk park, Harrison draws together an eclectic and vastly diverse range of styles and genres. Is there a ‘Latitude style’? It’s a question that seems to take Harrison by surprise “Essentially I book all the arts stages, and Jon (Dunn) books all the music stages,” she notes. “So I suppose it’s just what we like – if that’s a ‘style’ then maybe there is. I don’t know. We always have a wish list of who we want to perform. I don’t think Jon and I are ever conscious of there being a theme,” Harrison laughs. “It’s just what we’re liking and what is relevant and current. When I look back at the bill I sometimes go: ‘Oh, yeah! I can see what I was doing there!’” With Latitude now practically a brand name, how difficult is it for Harrison to persuade those on her wish list to make an appearance? “It depends on availability,” she sighs. “There are a few people that I’d like to get that I haven’t yet, but hopefully 2011.” I can’t help but wonder whether attitudes have changed in the last five years – perhaps in 2006 the idea of a theatre festival may have seemed a little outré. To an extent, Harrison agrees: “There was a time when, if you’d said ‘festival’, people would have assumed you meant a music festival, so there were lots of people who had never been to a festival. There is the perception that everybody is really drunk, or on drugs, and not capable of enjoying something cerebral. If you’ve been to Latitude you’ll know that this perception is very wrong.” Very wrong, indeed. Latitude has been described as ‘the middleclass festival’, or ‘the festival for people who don’t like festivals’. Personally, I think both these rather glib descriptions miss the point somewhat. And I think the Latitude fans on these pages would agree

John Williams Photography.co.uk

Photo: Josh Pharoh

Before you put up a tent you need to put down the groundsheet. That’s the bit that goes down first and keeps everything dry. Before the tent pegs, before you build the frame, before you slot the frame into the outer, before you put the tent up – before everything, you need to put down the groundsheet. It’s the foundation of the tent. Tania Harrison is the groundsheet of Latitude. Long before anything begins being built in Suffolk, or areas are laid out, Tania Harrison is laying the foundations for the festival and ensuring that the whole thing runs smoothly and successfully. For five years, Tania has been the Arts Curator for Latitude. “Latitude was an idea that I pitched to our board at Festival Republic,” Harrison explains. “I’d been at Reading Festival and I wanted something different; a festival with other genres represented there. I thought it would be a great idea to put a theatre tent in the field, and authors, poets, film and so on. Our Managing Director took up the project and we all joined forces to create Latitude.” Latitude has quickly become one of the most important festivals in the UK, certainly for artistic/creative types. While it has sold out every year, this year tickets were gone in record time – with three months still to go, all weekend and day tickets had sold. “It’s already increased in size this year,” Harrison tells me delighted with the success. “We have more people than ever attending this year, the site will look slightly different as well. We’ve added in lots of extra things, like the Faraway Forest area where there will be a masked ball, Les Enfants Terrible (pictured below centre), Johnny Blue Eyes and Duckie have all created different elements for that. The theatre will be in a new position, it holds about six hundred and is very popular.” An extraordinary amount of work goes into preparing each festival. “I’m already programming for 2011,” reveals Harrison. “Certain shows, the bigger theatrical shows, you really have to look at in advance. I go to see shows almost every night. I’m constantly travelling round to find the shows. I receive hundreds and hundreds of applications into my inbox,

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Latitude is whatever you want it to be... It is as far from the typical media idea of a ‘festival’ as you can get choices offer a superb barometer of the theatrical climate of the time. “Really?” she smiles. “Well, I suppose I’d like to think so. There’s some interesting pieces this year, Jonathan Holloway is doing something which I think is very forward. He’s doing a radio mic play called The Invisible Show which you can listen to, but you can’t necessarily see the performers. Also, High Tide will be creating individual musicals which will appear spontaneously in front of members of the audience. There’s a real range of theatre in the theatre arena, and in Pandora’s Playground, and the Outdoor Theatre.” The range of theatre available is extraordinary. I have remarked to many directors and producers that, in my opinion, the tastes and opinions of the practitioners who present at Latitude are influencing theatre across the country, if not the globe. “There will be thirty thousand people at the festival,” says Harrison, “and they will experience all of these different types of theatre and it will be interesting to know what they think about it. I really like the idea that people at the festival experience different types.” Of course, Harrison has an individual connection to all the performers at Latitude, and those companies cannot praise her highly enough. But what will be her highlights? What shouldn’t we miss? “Oh gosh,” she exclaims before launching into an exhaustive list. “Dereveo because that’s a one off,” she begins. “Daniel Kitson, either in the Theatre Arena or on the Waterfront Stage, The Masked Ball, that’s got some very special surprises. I’d probably go with The Island, by the Lyric, I hope there’s a lot of attention paid to Theatre 503. Riz MC in the Film & Music Arena – that’s a whole new type of show, taking theatre into a whole new area. Sadler’s Wells have got a surprise that we haven’t announced yet. The Royal Opera House are doing Will Tuckett’s new show. That’s quite a lot, isn’t it?” You’d never manage to see everything at Latitude, the programme is hundreds of pages long, but if Harrison’s list was all you managed to see, you’d have an extraordinary few days.

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with me. Latitude is, really, whatever you want it to be. There can be a riotous element, but this is married to a highbrow element. It is a music festival, but it is also a family festival. It does involve sleeping out in a tent, but it offers hot showers, excellent facilities, an incredible array of food stalls, plenty of security, a 24 hour supermarket, and this year, a new fine dining restaurant. It is as far from the typical media idea of a ‘festival’ as you can get, while still remaining true to the festival spirit. You could enjoy Latitude with a bunch of mates, and spend the whole weekend at the front of the main music stage, or you could go with your whole family, every generation from toddler to grandparent and indulge your inner aesthete. “There’s a place for hedonism in any festival,” agrees Harrison. “But there’s certainly a place to enjoy the culture and be curious about what is on offer, because all of the arts tents are packed all weekend. The beauty of Latitude is you can go and try everything. You pay an individual ticket price and you don’t have to pay anything extra to go and try ballet or opera for the first time. You can just wander into a tent and experience the RSC, or experience The Bush and their work.” For the theatre polymath, Latitude offers not only the opportunity to sample the work of our leading companies, explore their style and see some of their main house productions, but also the chance to delve into some more experimental works – many companies now programme work, exclusively for Latitude, the audience there is among the most discerning in the country. “Joel Horwood has written a specific piece that is Latitude-centric,” reveals Harrison, talking about the nabokov musical, It’s About Time, which will premier at Latitude this year – Joe Murphy, Artistic Director of nabokov talks about it in this issue of The Drama Student – “and there’s a company called Remember We Care who have written quite a witty piece for us. Theatre 503 are producing Playlist, which is inspired by the music from the last five of Latitude. It happens all across the different arenas, not just the theatre arena.” Looking back at previous line-ups, it strikes me that Harrison’s

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“I first heard about Latitude via Facebook, in 2008 and I thought ‘Music Festival? No, thank you’,” he recalls. “Then I started to look into the arts stages; the poetry tent, noticed Simon Armitage was there, noticed who was going to be in the theatre tent, and then thought ‘Oh, this is something I actually want to do!’” That was Latitude 3, and Hescott’s first time. How was it? “It was a complete revelation actually. I went to Edinburgh that year too, for the first time in about ten years, and Latitude nailed everything that Edinburgh wasn’t. I discovered so many new artists. Because, once you’ve paid for the ticket, everything is free, I’d go to see something and find the event, or the poet, or the musician who was on before was even more interesting to me.” Once you’ve got the first time out of the way, it just gets easier and more enjoyable. Hescott has mentioned his pre-Latitude nerves, that reticence about going to a ‘festival’, but he admits that once he took the first step, he found he had nothing to worry about. “I became a bit of a festival junkie – I’d definitely go to other festivals. All my understanding of festivals came from hearing my friend’s experiences at 16. I felt like part of a community at Latitude, and now I really quite enjoy camping… for a few days at least!” The idea of Latitude as a community is one that recurs whenever I speak to people, but Hescott is quick to point out that it’s not really ‘luvvy’ or network-y. “It was a holiday really,” he explains. “I did bump into a lot of people that I knew there, but it wasn’t networking. If anything, it opened my eyes. It was the first time I’d seen anything under Josie Rourke’s tenure at The Bush, and then Latitude was the first time I’d caught the Miniaturists, and when I got back to London, I’d seen a whole lot of companies whose work I’d been aware of but had never got round to catching. So, in retrospect, it was quite network-y as I was able to make contacts with those companies, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed networking while I was there.” As part of a community, mixing with like-minded people, Hescott recalls some of the highlights of his first Latitude – including Ken Campbell’s final ever performance. “I’d known and worked with Ken quite a bit, and had seen him so many times from the age of 12, and catching him at Latitude, at what no-one knew was his last performance, that was a definite highlight and I’m glad I saw that.”

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What it was, for Hescott, was creatively rewarding. “Then and there, I knew I wanted to take something to Latitude. I’d just had a show, Wolves at the Window, close in London, and I knew right then, that Wolves would work at Latitude.” Wolves at the Window was a delicious piece of chamber theatre, adapted by Toby Davies from the satirical writings of Saki. “Because there was such a big comedy audience at the festival, I knew that they would get the humour of Wolves,” explains Hescott. “Interestingly, because we were one of the only companies to receive a PG rating, we attracted a large family audience,” Hescott laughs. “It wasn’t written for a family audience, we never intended it for a family audience, but it really worked beautifully.” Visiting Latitude and working at Latitude were not actually very different for Hescott and his company, Fledgling. “We were there to be part of the festival, just like everyone else,” he explains. “Of course, you have to be organised and work together, but it’s just the same actually. The show itself was completely different at Latitude though, surprisingly different. We found we had to be bigger at Latitude. You’re competing with so much – the music coming in from outside, the people coming and going, performing in a massive tent, people shouting across the lake.” After Latitude, Hescott took Wolves at the Window to New York and the Brits on Broadway season. “Latitude actually really informed the changes we made to the show, we toyed with a new opening, we played with some different jokes, we explored a couple of rewrites. It really helped, but then Wolves was a different beast every time we played it.” Hescott has only glowing things to say about Latitude, both as a presenting company, and as an attendee. Perhaps the only salt in his wound would be that he didn’t manage to get a ticket this year? “I’d have loved to see Hair there,” he moans. “I think that’s clever to take that show, with it’s Woodstock, festival feel. Also, it will have quite a different atmosphere now that they’ve posted closing notices. It won’t be about promoting the show now, it will be more celebratory. I think it’s a shame Ben Moore isn’t there this year, he was one of my highlights from last year – one of the most beautiful, funny, moving pieces I’ve seen. I’m always interested in what the Bush do, they really understand Latitude. nabokov, obviously. I’m gutted I’ll be missing The Early Edition – I look forward to that every year!”

Some partnerships are made to last. They are equitable, mutually rewarding, complementary. French & Saunders. Posh & Becks. Katie Price & Living TV. They are a match made in Heaven, based on a joint understanding and shared values. Like Latitude and nabokov. A director friend recently remarked that the success of nabokov was, not wholly but substantially, tied up with the success of Latitude. Latitude has had an exceptionally rewarding relationship with nabokov since the inaugural festival in 2006. I make this suggestion to Joe Murphy, current Artistic Director of nabokov, as he is preparing to take the company to Latitude for this year’s festival, the first under his directorship. “I think that’s true,” Murphy agrees. “I think nabokov has received invaluable support over the years, from Tania who programmes Latitude. Right from the beginning we’ve been in that theatre tent and we’ve brought other companies into that tent with us. We’ve learned a lot about that space, how it works, what the audience want, how they react and why they are there. It’s a very unique festival, a very unique audience and they are looking for a unique experience of theatre to take away from the weekend.” nabokov certainly provides them with that unique experience. Started in 2001 by George Perrin and James Grieve, nabokov is at the very cutting edge of a theatre movement that is literally sweeping away the cobwebs of a staid, theatrical tradition and bringing feral, relevant theatre to a new generation. “The intent was to provide a theatre scene that was attractive to our friends, to make theatre that was about today, and about the people of today. Theatre with a pint,” grins Murphy. “George and James asked themselves, and I ask myself, ‘why aren’t people of our generation excited about theatre?’; ‘why don’t people in their twenties see theatre as a great night out where they can have fun, or be pushed emotionally and physically?’


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Testing the theory that you always remember your first time, Josh Boyd-Rochford put the question to director Thomas Hescott.

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James & George persuaded this pub to give them a license from midnight to 2am, and there were plays and monologues about their life going on all around them. It was visceral, a real connection with the audience.” The idea of visceral theatre seems so in tune with the ethos of Latitude, that a creative partnership between the new festival and nabokov might almost be seen as inevitable. “It couldn’t have been more right for us,” concedes Murphy. “It was totally in agreement with what we believed theatre should be about. In some ways, the idea that theatre is a night out and should be entertaining and philosophical and intellectual, that’s what has informed some of our flagship productions, but equally, theatre is about energy and the energy at Latitude is just incredible. A six hundred seater tent with people literally baying for theatre – it’s a challenge for us.” That energy is expertly channelled by nabokov – in 2009, nabokov practically blew the roof off with Is Everyone OK? It was, literally, a theatrical tsunami, exploding through the space and the audience. . “Joel Horwood, who wrote that, absolutely understands that space,” explains Murphy. “There is very little illusion of reality that can be achieved on there, it is about how you use it, and how you use the actors. This is exceptionally honest and open theatre, and Joel understands that. That comprehension of the space is really what makes nabokov’s work sing at Latitiude.” Horwood has been associated with nabokov for many years, writing extraordinary pieces for them that have become flagship works for nabokov and seminal tracts in the type of ‘in yer face’, agit-prop theatre that nabokov espouses. “Joel has been key to our work there. This year he’s written a new musical for Latitude. It’s about a group of twentysomethings who go to a music festival for the weekend. It’s about what we lose, and when we lose it. All the contradictions that surround our generation, Joel has captured that.”

Photo: Marc-Sethi

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Now I really quite enjoy camping... for a few days at least!

Interestingly, It’s About Time, the Horwood musical, ostensibly deals with a classic story – how we grow up and when we change, but it’s the nabokov twist that will make this one of the most exciting events of the festival. “It’s a common theme in our work,” explains Murphy. “Leaving University, where does growing up happen? We keep revisiting this. Particularly now, with the economic situation, the property ladder, these are really concerning, really difficult questions. There’s this lost generation that we keep exploring. What Joel and Arthur Darville (who wrote the music), have done is created a piece where the music and the acting and the story all work together so fluidly and all flow out of and into each other. The music is a really key part of the dramatic structure, I really feel it’s a new way of using music and song. Like all nabokov’s work, It’s About Time will showcase the very best of the new talent in the country. “We do have a commitment to using fresh talent,” Murphy explains, giving insight into the company style and ethos. “It’s a massive part of our company – using recent graduates. It’s such an exciting time, the last generation of theatre practitioners really proved that all bets are off. nabokov is about giving a voice to this generation.” For those of us interested in new writing and pushing the envelope of theatre, we hope that the marriage of Latitude and nabokov continues as fruitfully. “Tania Harrison’s original idea that started Latitude, of getting young people in and interested and excited – that idea is blown up to the nth degree at Latitude. It’s raw, and we are thrilled to be part of that.” And when he’s not totally tied up with nabokov over the weekend, what will he be trying to see? “Definitely Tangled Feet, who we love, Florence & the Machine are playing, Dry Write is one of my favourite companies, The Bush. Latitude is about having a great time, watching some shows, seeing what’s out there and who you want to work with. It’s about cutting loose and having some fun.” ●

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accounting Tom Secretan, Winner Ivanno Jeremiah, Zoe Wanamaker and runner-up Nick Blakeley

Winner of the 2010 Alan Bates Bursary

One might wonder why this year’s winner of the Alan Bates Bursary, Ivanno Jeremiah, decided to become an actor; his life up until now appears to have been dramatic enough. At the age of 21, Ivanno Jeremiah’s story is far from reaching its conclusion but he’s on track to becoming the inspiration for a Ron Howard biopic. Born in Uganda during the troubled years that followed the overthrow of Idi Amin’s regime, Ivanno’s mother moved to the UK as a political refugee with her six children, when Ivanno was just 3 weeks old. He grew up in South London and has seen many of his friends go down a less than savoury road. “Quite a few of the people I grew up with are now stuck in a rut or affiliated with gangs,” he says. “I guess I would have been susceptible to a lot of other influences had I not found acting. I was too busy sweating my arse off rehearsing Shakespeare.” Ivanno says he has always been driven. At the age of 16 he decided to leave the Comprehensive he was at and audition for the Brit School. He was successful at his audition but hadn’t told his mother he’d left the old school until the day he was due to start at the Brit. “She looked at me with this sort of mixture of shock, confusion and pride. It’s a look I still see sometimes to this day,” he says. Upon leaving the Brit School Ivanno auditioned for drama schools and was pleasantly surprised when he received offers to RADA, Central and The Bristol Old Vic. “To be honest with you I didn’t know that much about drama school or what happened there. For one of my auditions I read Oberon. I’m not sure the auditioners had seen an Oberon with cornrows, in a track suit and wearing bling before.” Despite the somewhat unlikely costume, he must have given a good performance because he was accepted. In the end he chose to study at RADA where he says he learnt to think of himself as an artist and develop his craft as an actor. Ivanno plans to follow in his mother’s footsteps and focus his

attention on community based projects. “Next week I’m going to prison” he says. What? “To work with prisoners on a drama project,” he clarifies. “It’s a programme that RADA offers. I’ll be working in a prison and going to four schools to share my love of drama with them.” Ivanno hopes he can make a difference within these communities. “I strongly believe that drama has endless benefits for building self-confidence. Going on stage in front of people forces you to deal with your insecurities and master them.” For the moment Ivanno’s biopic will have to conclude on a sunny day a few weeks ago when he was presented with his latest achievement, the prestigious Alan Bates Bursary. Awarded by the Actors Centre and supported by the Gordon foundation, the Bursary will provide Ivanno with a year’s free membership to the Actors Centre and classes to the value of £1000. He will also get a year’s Spotlight subscription and receive subsidies to cover other career expenses such as headshots, show reels, voice demos or a personal website. Ivanno was selected by judges Richard E Grant and Lesley Sharp, from over 200 entrants and was presented with the award by Zoë Wanamaker in a ceremony at the Actors Centre this month. “I was delighted to present Ivanno with  the Alan Bates Bursary,” said Wanamaker. “He was chosen purely on the basis of his acting ability, but it’s great when you come across someone who has all that talent and it’s connected with a massive passion about changing his own and other people’s lives.” Ivanno’s story has a long way to go and like all good biopics, there are no doubt challenging scenes ahead but for this leading man heroism, triumph and acclaim are likely to follow. ●

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does TAX have to be Ask any actor what month of year they dread most, they’ll no doubt say January. What part of January? The final week. Why? TAX DEADLINE. TDS looks at ways of making the process simpler. Of course we’re all pleased Moira Stewart got another job after she was axed by the Beeb for being past her display date. That doesn’t mean we’re particularly overjoyed with her new role as the HM Revenue and Customs ‘gentle reminder’ ambassador. Those mellow tones, echoing for three months in the lead up to the tax deadline, reminding us we’re all set to burn in hell unless we get those tax returns in, sends a shiver up every actor’s spine each year. Yes, we know there’s the handful of clever clogs who get their returns in the moment the Revenue are willing to accept them, but for the 98% of actors we know, the final week of January is a mayhem of panic and disarray. Apparently, tax doesn’t have to be taxing. Then why is it so? Like most things in life, it all comes down to preparation – so reckons Karl Hood, an actor who also specialises in tax services. In this article Karl will highlight why it is important to keep organised records of income and expenses for tax purposes. He’ll describe a fairly common sense filling system for acting expenses and explain some basic tax concepts and identify some common errors. After taking on these nifty tips, you can relax in January, and feel somewhat smug when Moira starts her little rant. Bless her, we do love her.

Making Life Easier When you are about to graduate from drama school and become a professional actor, it’s a good time to set-up some simple filing system to keep your tax records in an organised fashion. It’s important because: • HM Revenue & Customs (the tax authorities) will not allow you to claim a business expense without a record of it • It will help reduce your stress levels if you want to complete your own tax return • If you are using a tax accountant it can help reduce the fees you have to pay

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taxing? The easiest method to adopt is to have six different envelopes relating to acting labelled as follows (only a few examples are included for each category due to space constraints and fuller information can be found on the HMRC and some accountants’ websites): Income put any payslips or statements from your agent or invoices you have issued to production or theatre companies in here. Clearly write what production it is for if it isn’t obvious. Travel include any tickets (rail tickets, flights, oyster top-ups) and if registered online a monthly oyster print-out can be useful and just write on the back of the ticket what it related to, e.g. trip to the theatre/cinema or an audition/rehearsal. Research this should contain for example any theatre or cinema tickets, acting books or playbooks, research materials, CDs, DVDs, online film hire, i-tunes/Amazon email printouts Advertising receipts (or email printouts) for advertising costs such as a website, photograph session and repros, membership to Spotlight, Casting Call Pro, Equity, plus voicereel or showreel costs can go in here. Home Office it’s reasonable for most actors to claim costs as if part of the home is used as an office so in here put utility bills and bank statements to show rent/mortgage being paid, and receipts for ‘office’ type costs such as printer paper and ink, mobile phone bills and postage/stamps. Miscellaneous this should catch all other receipts which relate to acting so might include the cost of a laptop, even a car which you use partially for acting (plus petrol and associated costs), training/singing lessons, hotel accommodation and food costs if stayed overnight for a tour/audition plus some costume/clothing costs This way of grouping records should make sense and so easier to follow in practice. If you can put your receipts in these groups at the end of each month you will be in great shape when you come to prepare your tax return.


accounting For the first year you need to keep records for the period starting when you register as self-employed which should be as soon as you graduate from drama school (there is no need to wait until you get your first role) through until 5th April 2011. You should also include receipts for some costs incurred in your final year at drama school, e.g. Equity and Spotlight membership, photograph session and other advertising costs. These can be claimed as pre-trading expenses or start-up costs.

Tax – The Basics There can be a lot of confusion about taxes for actors and how to complete your tax return and so some basic steps are explained below: Deadlines you need to submit your tax return by 31st October following the end of the tax year if filing a paper tax return, or by 31st January following the end of the tax year if filing online. So for the tax year ended 5th April 2011 you need to file your tax return online and pay any tax by 31st January following the end of the tax year (i.e. 31 January 2012). Step One work out your profits for your acting activities (your ‘acting profits’) by deducting allowable expenses from your income earned from acting (which hopefully will be easier if you followed the filing system noted above). Step Two add together all your income (‘total income’) which is likely to comprise the following (there are however lots of other sources of income that may apply to you): • Acting profits (or loss) • Employment (e.g. part-time job) • Other self-employment (e.g. promo work or modelling) • Bank interest Third step from the total income amount you need to deduct the tax-free personal allowance which is currently

£6,475. The excess income will be subject to income tax at 20% and acting profits may be subject to National Insurance at 8%. Any income tax (but not National Insurance) which has already been deducted from employment income can be offset against your total tax bill.

Easy Mistakes National Insurance from my experience one easy mistake that actors make is that most acting income will have National Insurance at 11% already deducted (this is shown on the payslip). To avoid paying another 8% National Insurance on this income the acting profits need to be adjusted – there is a special box on the tax return. Larger Items another common error is that larger items of expenditure such as laptops, TVs and cars are not always claimed because the rules can appear complex. However, generally a percentage of the upfront cost can be claimed as what is known as an ‘Annual Investment Allowance’. For cars, a little notepad in the car should be used to record the mileage for acting related travel. Losses in the first year it is not unusual for an actor’s expenses to be more than income earned and so a loss is generated. This loss can be offset against other income in the same tax year (e.g. a part-time job) and it can also be offset against other income in the last 3 tax years, e.g. if you generate a loss in the tax year ending 5th April 2011 you can offset the loss against other income in the tax year ending 5th April 2008. This can trigger tax refunds, especially if you gave up a well-paid job to start at drama school. Karl Hood is a professional actor who recently finished studying at Drama Studio London and who also provides tax services for actors and actresses through Karl Hood LLP. Contact at www. karlhoodtax.co.uk - Facebook: ‘Karl Hood Tax’ http://twitter.com/khtax

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Q

I’m currently looking for Shakespeare speeches for my auditions. We have studied Romeo and Juliet at school, but I have never prepared a speech from a Shakespeare play for audition before. This slightly terrifies me! Can you give me, and I imagine many others, the basics on how to approach this almost ‘alien’ process. I want to enjoy it, but fear is holding me back somewhat. Casey Smith-Wood, 18

student support

Simon Dunmore answers... I believe that Shakespeare seems so ‘alien’ to many is because: (a) He & his plays have been put on an ‘academic pedestal’ to be worshiped — and take exams in; (b) The way that he used language; (c) His characters & plots seem so remote — even, silly/naïve — to us. My responses are: (a) Shakespeare wrote — not for future academic study — but to engage audiences. He did this to make some money for himself. We don’t know much about his life, but we do know that he died a wealthy man. (b) Just as word-usages vary across the country (& the Englishspeaking world) nowadays, they vary across centuries. For instance, read Dickens! The way his characters speak may be closer than Shakespeare’s to how we speak now, but it’s still different. Recently, I watched a modern play set in a remote, rural part of the USA — the words were modern, but phrased so differently from current English usage, but still very engaging & communicative. I could quote zillions of other examples. If Shakespeare had written in language that felt ‘alien’ to his audiences, they would have stopped paying to come to see the plays. (c) Shakespeare’s world was so very different from ours. It was a world where democracy barely existed, education, medicine & sanitation were primitive and there was no mains gas, electricity or water. [Note: It’s only within the last century-and-a-bit that all these now commonplace essentials have become the norm in the ‘civilised’ world — some more recently than others.] It was a world in which what we’d now regard as ‘unfair’ was normal; a world in which what we’d now regard as ‘unreal’ was regarded as possible; a world in what we’d now regard as ‘obvious’ was not necessarily the case. Nowadays, we easily accept (for instance) that Mary Poppins can fly unaided — in a film; so why not ‘easily accept’ that Puck can fly around the earth “in forty minutes” — also ‘unaided’? Nowadays, we can feel fairly sure that a sudden death will be investigated; in Shakespeare’s time it could easily be concealed. Nowadays, we take it for granted that we can travel thousands of miles in less than a day; in Shakespeare’s time it was only the rich who could travel a hundred miles in a day. There are thousands of other huge differences between then and now. Worry less about big events of Shakespeare’s world! Get inside the real lives of those who lived four centuries ago and you’re part way there.

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Shakespeare & the plays: Read about him. Not academic studies of his plays, but one (or more) of those books that speculate on the life that he might have lived and the world of his plays. My favourites are both simply entitled, Shakespeare — one written by Anthony Burgess & the other by Bill Bryson. Once, you begin to get a feel for Shakespeare’s world start reading one of the plays. At first, do this without specifically looking for suitable speeches — more, to get a feel of the way people (rich & poor) lived and the way he uses language to express them. Don’t just read them on the page! Read passages out loud — with care & without rushing and without acting too much! [Plays only come alive when the words are spoken out loud.] This takes time, but it is time well invested for when you approach the other plays. It’s possibly best to start with one that you vaguely know, so that you’re not struggling too much with the plot and who each person is. If these latter cause you problems look up the plot & character summaries on www.sparknotes.com or one of the numerous other sources. However, be wary of the transliterations in No Fear Shakespeare — these are (a) not very good & (b) tend not to be written ‘speakable’ English. Some Shakespeare reading tips: Use a single modern edition not a Complete Works! I like the Oxford editions. Look for full-stops these mark shifts in a characters’ thinking. It might help to mark these before reading out loud. Get an understanding of unfamiliar words & phrases before reading out loud. Once you feel you’re beginning to ‘tune in’ to the language, start looking for speeches that could suit you. For more tips on this process see my article on the subject in the second edition of The Drama Student available at www.thedramastudent.co.uk

Working on your Shakespeare speeches You’ll find my detailed advice on rehearsing all speeches in the third edition of The Drama Student. Rehearsing Shakespeare speeches is no different, however here are some extra thoughts to help: Use the ideas above to get a more detailed understanding


studentsupport of the play(s), your character(s) & the immediate circumstances of the speech(es). If the speech is in verse, write it out in prose form in order to enhance your understanding. Understanding how verse works is for your time at drama school; in audition, auditioners want to see your ‘truth’. When you encounter long sentences try temporarily removing the sub-clause(s) in order to help grasp the main intent; then add the subclause(s) back in when you’ve absorbed the main intent of the whole sentence. Transliterate the speech into your own words in order to understand it better. DON’T use somebody else’s modern version! This has to be your Hamlet or Ophelia — not somebody else’s! There is no one, definitive way of playing any character! Repeat over and over again words & phrases that you find hard to grasp. In time words like “forsooth” & phrases like “I pray you” will become as familiar as the words & phrases that you use with your friends. It’s a bit like learning another language. Try to visit real locations appropriate to your speeches for instance, a castle (with no modern central heating), a wood which is completely dark at night, etc, etc. However, have a backup (a torch, for instance) so that you don’t put yourself into real personal danger and never go alone. Regard the seemingly unnatural “O” as just an inhalation or exhalation (depending on circumstances) of breath. Above all, remember that Shakespeare created very real people — living in very different circumstances.

Performing your Shakespeare speeches Again, you’ll find my detailed advice on rehearsing all speeches in the fifth edition of The Drama Student. Performing Shakespeare speeches is no different, however here are some extra thoughts to help: Don’t play effects! Be truthful! OK, the language is heightened, but it is so important to be truthful when saying it! Don’t put on a ‘Shakespeare voice’ — posh or cod rural! Use your own voice! NOTE RP (‘posh’) wasn’t invented until over a century after Shakespeare died. It’s not just connection to character and circumstances that you need, but real ‘connection’ to references (like the frequent ones to people in ancient mythologies) that are now obscure. Don’t overstress words & phrases that are now obscure — treat them as if they are normal everyday language. Don’t try to demonstrate something that is now obscure — connect to it and a sense of the meaning will communicate to your auditioners. Above all, don’t think of it as a speech! Think of it as a journey that evolves as you travel through the phrases & sentences. Really take on board the circumstances (that is, the facts of people’s day to day lives) of the time within which he was writing — see above. NOTE: Productions often move the plays to more recent times— it’s much, much harder to do this with audition speeches. Shakespeare’s own advice on acting — through Hamlet (starting, “Speak the speech, I pray you...” - Act 2, scene 3) — is wonderful and very valid today.

Final thoughts I now read Shakespeare for fun & enlightenment. Getting to this point took some while, but has paid me huge benefits. And, I don’t just mean in order to add to my income. My knowledge (acquired over around five decades) is so informative as I exist in this modern world. For instance, when my father was losing his sense of reality (he was 90), I read & endlessly reread Cordelia’s scene with her father (King Lear - Act 4, scene 7). The fact that someone else had been through the same experience — and written it so accurately — was so supportive. I profoundly believe that Shakespeare was like the rest of us — and understood our most intimate parts. Only a few drama schools actually specify Shakespeare under the ‘classical’ heading. It can be well worth looking at his contemporaries — Marlowe, Jonson, Middleton, etc. — for more unusual audition material. For more insights into the major events and real lives of people in the plays, listen to a wonderful Radio 4 series called This Sceptred Isle. You can find more details (& suggested speeches) in my Alternative Shakespeare Auditions books. 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

justask@thedramastudent.co.uk

Dear Yvonne, I have recently been rejected from the drama school of my dreams. I was so sure this was the year for me, I was ready to train after gaining ‘life experience’. I am absolutely devastated. I have auditioned at many places this year (I’m 20, this is my second time at drama school auditions) and have had limited success. I’ve come across lots of 17 year olds, in their first year of trying, who walk into drama schools, no problem. I have already taken time out to gain life experience which hasn’t helped at all. I have a couple of auditions left and I have gained a place on a foundation course at another school. I don’t want to be on a course with a bunch of 17 year olds who have no experience and feel like I’m being held back. I’m tempted not to bother going to the other auditions, because I am sure the schools won’t measure up to the other school I wanted, and I don’t want to spend even more money on a course that still won’t guarantee I will get in anywhere. I don’t know if I could go back again next year knowing that I should have been in the year above. Kim OK Kym, you’ve had time for a little wallow, now pull yourself together! Rejection is something you have to get used to, not just now, but all through you career as an actor. If you can’t handle it, then this is not the right path for you. I know it’s hard when you have set your heart on something, but throughout life your will find you have to learn to compromise. You should never put all your eggs in one basket. I know you say this is the only drama school you want to go to, but you have to have another plan. Why didn’t you get offered a place this year? That is the BIG question - and there could be lots of answers. Of course it is good that you have some life experience, although remember you are still only 20, and that alone will not get you through an audition. Perhaps you just didn’t fit the criteria the school was looking for, perhaps your audition was not as good as you thought, perhaps you came across desperate? It’s totally wrong to compare yourself to the other auditionees, regardless of their age - the ones that get places have earned them and impressed the panel. Your current attitude about working with 17 year olds is not healthy - everyone brings something different to a group, and we all learn from each other throughout our lives, regardless of our age and background. Pick yourself up. Enrol on the foundation course which will be a brilliant pre-cursor to full-time training and perhaps look for audition technique courses. Prepare yourself as much as possible and then apply for next year and attend your auditions with a positive and professional attitude. Make sure you get hold of the new CDS Guide (available in September) to help you decide where to audition. Good Luck. Visit www.thedramastudent.co.uk where Yvonne gives more advice. Yvonne I’Anson is Head of Marketing at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

Can Yvonne Help?

If you have a question, no matter what stage in your journey, email justask@thedramastudent.co.uk *Please note that Yvonne is unable to respond to your questions personally.

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actors toolbox Radio Acting is arguably the most challenging. With 90% of communication non-verbal, facial expressions, gestures and eye contact are essential to convey the majority of emotion and meaning. This leaves only 10% of their dramatic armory to create and convey a believable character and engrossing atmosphere, writes Helen Dunning. Marilyn Le Conte, senior lecturer at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, has taught radio drama at Royal Welsh College since 1986 and is co-author of the Radioactive series of radio audition books and a freelance dialect consultant. “There are four essentials to making radio drama,” she says. “Voice, sound effects, music - and silence.” She cites Carleton Hobbs, the legendary radio actor, who lived by the mantra, less is more, and was renowned for expressing emotion and presence with very few words. BBC Radio Drama’s Carleton Hobbs Bursary Award is one of the year’s main highlights for final year undergraduates and MA students. Around 80 students from 20 UK drama colleges compete each year for this prestigious award and the Royal Welsh College has produced eight winners and four runners up since 1996. Rhys Jennings won the award last year and has just completed his prize of five months working with the BBC Radio Drama Company. Jennings relishes the challenges of mastering radio acting; “You have to use small intonations in your voice as you are close to the microphone so you can’t bawl out a Shakespearian monologue.” He points out that you must read without sounding as though you are reading and turn pages without making a noise. Radio microphones are extremely sensitive and can be very unforgiving; they pick up every detail so every detail must be perfect! “You aren’t using your body in the same way so you have to put absolute focus into your voice and the sounds you make,” he explains. A wide range of expression and colour must be expertly portrayed by the voice, a very specific art. “You can really make people listen to the smallest sound,” whispers Le Conte. She continues, “In radio you can play any character that suits your voice: you may not be typically good-looking but in radio, if you sound like Romeo, you can play Romeo! You’re also much more likely to land a lead role as, unlike film and television, radio has no star culture. On screen you can sometimes look grim when you’re not supposed to, but on the radio you can look like the wrath of God and nobody cares as long as you sound like an angel!”. Other advantages to radio acting include the speed with which a radio project can be produced due to the lack of visuals, meaning that a radio job can be done in a day or less – although more usually 2-3 days. There is more new writing in radio than in any other genre, bar Hollywood film, so the amount and range of work available is enormous. “We invest in radio excellence”, says Le Conte, “and the timetabling of the acting course reflects that.” Students start in their first year with

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sight reading lessons, an all-round skill which sharpens reading aloud skills ready for the start of radio tuition in year two. Second year students work in small classes, leading to an end of year full-scale radio production, directed by a professional radio producer with a professional ex-BBC sound designer. Students learn about microphone technique, studio practice, how to connect with their text, character and microphone, and ultimately about the intimacy of the relationship with their ‘audience of one’. Study is essentially about drama, but students also spend time on readings and monologue work. The third and final year takes these elements to a more sophisticated level. Preparation also begins for auditions for places on the College’s Carleton Hobbs team. Unusually the College opens these auditions to 3rd year and MA students, in line with their policy of mixed group showcases and production castings from mid-spring onwards. “Everyone’s contribution is equably valuable and it’s important they all benefit from the same opportunities,” says Le Conte. Mentor David Hunter, Senior Executive Producer from the BBC London, visits the College annually to lecture on radio work. The College has great relationships with BBC Radio Drama in Cardiff, and Senior Producer, Kate McAll, also talks to the students and sees them in productions and showcases. “Kate often needs young Welsh voices for radio dramas being produced in Cardiff, and comes to us for suggestions,” says Le Conte, who organises auditions for Kate and other freelance producers, both from the BBC and independent companies. Several students have had professional work before they’ve graduated, for example five third year students and two post-graduate/MA students were recently to be heard in the Radio 4 drama serial, Writing the Century, where one of the leads was recent Royal Welsh College graduate Elin Philips. “Many young actors don’t think of radio as a potential source of work, but once they’ve tried it they always want to do more,” concludes Le Conte. “Many graduates find that their radio training gives them so much confidence in their ability to be creative with only their voice, that they became successful voice over artistes, despite the very different techniques involved. Many carve out big careers in audio books, radio plays, animations, even computer games.” ● For more information visit www.rwcmd.ac.uk


arts educational schools london

BA HONS Acting for film and television

ma acting ma screenwriting Ba hONS post diploma conversion course

visit www.artsed.co.uk


training

camera

and loads of

lights ACTION ISSA is a vocational, strictly hands-on, TV and Film acting school. Phil Matthews heads east to soak up its unique atmosphere. It’s a sticky summer afternoon and I’m on my to the International School of Screen Acting. I’d seen their student’s showcase last year, held at the prestigious BAFTA, and was rather impressed with the quality of work produced. I was excited to see where this creativity is born. Next stop – 3 Mills Studios. ISSA was founded in 2001 as a response to a growing realisation that the art of screen acting was receiving too little attention in the main drama schools. In fact students have hitherto been offered something of an apology, an afterthought, an add-on even, rather than being afforded the recognition it truly deserves. ISSA was established to give priority to screen acting. There’s certainly a need for it. After all, the gap between stepping onto a stage and stepping on to a film set, is somewhat vast.

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There was also a need to acknowledge the irony which often occurs with graduate actors. They have been well trained in theatre acting in accordance with our great theatrical traditions, but frequently the first paid work a young actor obtains is not on the stage, but in front of a camera. Not surprisingly this leads to panic stations! Peter Barkworth in his helpful book About Acting opens his chapter ‘Now we go filming’ with “Why didn’t anybody tell me”! ISSA is therefore the first to have instigated full time training specifically geared to screen acting, on a par with the established theatre-oriented drama schools. And ISSA is certainly proud of its USP. I’m greeted by one of the three directors at the school, David Craik. I suspect he’s a man with enthusiasm generally, yet his passion for


training guiding his students into a notoriously difficult profession with the skills they need to sustain a career, is infectious. His positively shines, yet I’m reminded that students are continually advised of the pitfalls of the industry and regularly given advice on how to overcome them. I comment on how there’s nothing worse than a school that tell their students it’s a hunky-dory ride to a Danny Boyle film set. Craik agrees. I’m given a tour of the school’s spacious and bright studios, in a private nook of the famous 3 Mills Studios in East London. Students are given full access to the modern cafeteria centre, where I’m told they regularly bump into famous faces rehearsing or filming at the centre. On our way back from a tasty lunch, I observe a couple of battered police cars outside a studio and I can’t help but wonder what troubles they’d been caught up in and in which production. The creative juices begin to flow. How inspiring for the students to work here every day. The school offers two full time courses: a Two Year for 18 – 21 year olds, and a One Year Advanced for 21 – 35yrs. The courses are vocational and strictly hands-on with a minimum of theory. So don’t go to ISSA if you want a degree per se. The school is of the opinion that Quentin Tarrantino is unlikely to ask for your degree certificate when you are auditioning for him. Rather ‘can you do the job and solve my casting problem asap so I can get on’. Be that as it may, with the school now an Approved NCFE Centre, the Two Year course does carry a nationally recognised qualification. The One Year course carries its own Certificate of completion. ISSA was also the first to culminate its courses in a showcase to which agents and casting directors are invited, not onstage but onscreen in the form of a graduation screening at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in London’s Piccadilly. Inevitably others are now following suit. ISSA’s tuition is provided by full time practitioners, actors and directors who are very adept and dedicated to passing on their skills and knowledge. Industry news from them is ‘hot off the press’. The school is eclectic in its approach, it’s not all about camera technique here. It offers classes in Meisner, Strasbourg and Chubbuck, taking the view that these should be viewed as ‘tools’ for the graduate actor’s ‘toolbox’ to be used ‘as and when’, given the myriad of genres and demands the modern actor is faced with. Although classes in core acting are included at the outset, students work in camera for at least 75% of their time. There are many in-house projects and the majority of tutors use cameras in their classes. Students are also introduced to horse riding, archery and screen combat which includes gun handling. I graduated from my drama school seven years ago – I’m already thinking about enrolling here myself. ISSA prides itself on offering a lot of individual attention in accord with its ethos of teaching students to take responsibility for their own actions as well as to be pro-active in the industry. Therefore, classes in screen writing for actors are included, helping students to attain a fuller understanding of the film-making process. This is also in the hope that they will create their own work if the agent isn’t calling. ISSA students learn not just how to act but how to live an actor’s life as well as work. To this end, there is plenty of coverage about self-marketing and survival. Emphasis is placed on developing confidence as well as nurturing each students creative centre. Classes are deliberately kept small to facilitate much greater individual attention than usual. Craik is a graduate of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (where actually he did a fair bit of ‘telly’). He smiles with a cup of tea looking over the top of his glasses: “It’s all the other way around now. It used to be lots of theatre with a ‘bit of telly’ thrown in; now the equation has to be, lots of film and telly with a bit of theatre thrown in.” It’s a changing industry and ISSA appear to be at the very forefront. I take an application pack, there’s no harm in having a look. ● Call 020 8555 5775 or email office@screenacting.co.uk www.screenacting.co.uk

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training

Central The Central School of Speech and Drama continue their international outreach work, creating opportunities for four Indian participants of the Annual Inter School Drama Festival. Four prize winners of the Annual Inter School Drama Festival 2009 in Kolkata will attend the “Youth Theatre for Actors” course this summer at the world renowned Central School of Speech & Drama, University of London. Debalina Choudhury, best actress; Shreyansh Rohatgi, best actor; Preetam Mukherjee, best student coordinator; and Susmita Duari, best teacher coordinator, have been preparing for this exciting opportunity. They will work on the use and interpretation of text, and develop skills in voice, movement and acting. They will also perform to an invited audience at Central. The school drama festival has been one of British Council’s foremost initiatives for over 27 years. British Council has enabled a strong following of theatre workshops and performance amongst schools in Eastern India. Students have been delighted to get the opportunity

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to write, direct and perform their own plays promoting teamwork and originality. Several up and coming celebrities of Bollywood and theatre have had their first stint in acting from this initiative which they acknowledge in leading forums. Central’s ‘Theatre in the Classroom’ concept adds a new dimension to this initiative. This enables many children to hone their talent to become actors and performers; many acquire essential communication skills and develop their self-confidence which are vital for their success in life. The preparation for the Annual Inter School Drama Festival 2010 is in full swing. Already 44 schools have registered for the first round and the selection process is underway. The finals will be held on 7 August 2010 in Kolkata. ●


training KSA Performing Arts has just announced another 100% pass rate for the Trinity Guildhall ATCL Performance Diploma, with 87% of students achieving high Distinctions.

KSA

The one year Musical Theatre course, based in Beckenham, London, has been something of a well-kept secret; indeed, some may not even have heard of them yet. But the academy has just graduated its third successive year in fantastic style, with a performance of the new musical, Hotel S.A.L.I.G.I.A. at the West End Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre. “We put on a full-scale musical every year”, explains Phillip Short, Course Director and co-writer of the musical. “Not only is it a great way to end the year, giving our students the opportunity to perform in a West End theatre, but it also provides an exciting student showcase.” Industry professionals are invited to attend and KSA students have been successful in securing representation as a direct result of their end-of-year shows. “This has been an exceptional year” continues Phillip. “And we all have high hopes for our graduating students. Hotel S.A.L.I.G.I.A. was a phenomenal success and we are currently in talks to turn it onto a longer run at one of London’s fringe venues. I would have no hesitation in employing students of KSA in the show.” KSA are currently auditioning for their next intake, commencing September 2010. With only 25 places available for each intake, competition can be fierce, but Phillip stresses that talent alone is not enough to be successful. “We always look to create a company feel. As the majority of sessions are in group, working in a professional, directed environment, students need to be excellent team players.” With such consistently excellent exam results and students gaining work in the industry, KSA is something of a sleeping giant. Phillip credits their steady rise to two main factors: their professional, supportive training environment, which enables students to flourish, and their faculty of tutors, all of whom have West End and other prestigious credits, providing students with an up-to-date view of life in the profession. Phillip sums up: “Everyone at KSA is so enthusiastic and driven, and this has led to our fantastic results. We’re fast becoming a force to be reckoned with; we already have graduates appearing in the West End, and we genuinely expect to be turning out some of the names of the future”. ●

GUILDFORD SCHOOL OF ACTING

0 g in 01 ch r 2 un be La em pt Se

Syllabus for Musical Theatre Singing Examinations Grades 1 – 8 Diploma in Performance Licentiate in Performance Licentiate in Teaching of Singing Fellowship of GSA

Photo: Steve Porter

For an application form/further details contact:Guildford School of Acting Stag Hill Campus, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 7XH UK Tel: (01483) 560701 Fax: (01483) 684070 Email: gsaenquiries@gsa.surrey.ac.uk Web: www.gsauk.org

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training

Actors studio Actors Studio is based at the world famous Pinewood Film Studios, the leading provider for film related services. Based at the heart of the British Film Industry, Actors Studio was formed in 2004 by former acting agent Tim Kent. Tim who now works as a producer, has had years of experience with young actors working at the highest level. Most credibly he looked after Dani Harmer who played Tracy Beaker in the BBC television series of the same name. Actors Studios latest course, Shot To Be Seen, is designed by Tim and sets out to give young actors the chance to network with industry professionals and ultimately to get his actors working within the industry. Tim says most drama classes teach actors the skills required to be an actor, but without meeting the right people these skills are not used to their full potential. Shot To Be Seen for young actors will give them the opportunity to be seen by industry professionals who can potentially give them work and representation. Industry professionals on previous courses have

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included directors of EastEnders and well-known film and TV Casting Directors. During the 10 session course at Pinewood Studios, actors will be given the opportunity to work with Directors, Producers and Casting Directors, all of whom are working in the industry right now and in a position to give them work. At the end of the course actors will perform a showcase in front of the industry in a West End venue. Shot To Be Seen is aimed at actors who want to go to the next level and get an agent and professional work.

For more information, call 01753 650951 or visit www.actorsstudio.co.uk


3 Year BA (Hons) in Performance Acting ∙ Musical Theatre Validated by the University of East Anglia

2 Year BA (Hons) Technical Theatre Validated by Middlesex University

Plus stimulating and intensive Postgraduate courses

Acting ∙ Musical Theatre ∙Technical Theatre Theatre Directing ∙ Musical Direction

020 8881 2201 enquiries@mountview.org.uk www.mountview.org.uk Accredited by the NCDT

Mountview is committed to equal opportunities

MOUNTVIEW’S SUMMER SEASON fEATURINg 2010 POSTgRADUATE ACTINg AND MUSICAl THEATRE STUDENTS

forfanteries by Olivier Coyette

In a new translation by Simon Scardifield This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Olivier Coyette and Simon Scardifield

Sleeping Around by Hilary fannin, Stephen greenhorn, Abi Morgan and Mark Ravenhill This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Casarotto Ramsey & Associates Ltd.

British premiere of this irreverent comedy

Friday 23 to Saturday 31 July Evenings at 7.30pm Matinees: Thursday 29 and Saturday 31 July at 3.00pm

Contains bad language & scenes which may cause offence

Friday 6 to Saturday 14 August Evenings at 7.30pm Matinees: Thursday 12 and Saturday 14 August at 3.00pm

a… my name is alice Conceived by Joan Micklin Silver and Julianne Boyd

Music by Jeanine Tesori Book & lyrics by Brian Crawley

This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Samuel French Ltd

Based on The Ugliest Pilgrim by Doris Betts This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd on behalf of Music Theatre International of New York.

British Amateur premiere of this award-winning musical

The Arches, Villiers Street, london WC2N 6Nl

Saturday 21 to Saturday 28 August

Evenings at 7.30pm Matinees: Saturday 28 August at 3.00pm

Celebrate the joys and frustrations of being a woman

QUOTE DRAMA STUDENT & GET TICKETS FOR £5 EACH

Saturday 4 to Saturday 12 September

Evenings at 7.30pm Matinees: Saturday 12 September at 3.00pm

Box Office: 020 8829 0035


t h g i l Spot

l l a B

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d r a o b picture


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Photos:

AM

om ondon.c ww.am-l phy w Photogra


edinburghhighlights

THE FLAT

Dates: Everyday Venue: The Hive (Venue 313) @ 2.30pm

When sweet, innocent Lolly moves in to The Flat, little does she know that she will be sharing a house with a sociopath, an obsessive Australian, a man who likes to make tin foil clothing, and quite possibly… a ghost. But watch things unfold and let the confessions of the housemates reveal something you don’t expect. Something shocking. Something downright sinister. Mad Props is a collective of young people who together write, direct, produce and perform their own productions, and are back this year, following an unprecedented success at the Edinburgh Fringe 2009, with a dark, hilarious and original new play.

Fame or Fries The Flying Penguins will be fluttering up to the Fringe this August with their production of Fame or Fries. Brenda, a naïve farm girl from MudLick, Arkansas, seeks fame in the Big Apple. Fly on her journey of whisky-breath housemates, alley-way love interests and pro-porn agents to see if she finds success, fame, or simply fries! Fresh from the Australian fringe circuit where the production received four star reviews, this London based Theatre Company is made up of Lucy Rasheed, Rosemary Tross and Avena Mansegrh Wallace. Dates: 16th-21st of August @ 7:05pm Venue: theSpaces on the Mile @ The Radisson, Space 1 (V39)

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Dates: 9th - 14th August Venue: The Zoo Roxy The Warren, Edinburgh


edinburghhighlights

The biggest theatre festival in the world is back, and the number of productions being featured is greater than ever. TDS highlights some of the fringe productions we’ll be catching during August.

THRESHOLD

Dates: 9th – 13th and 16th – 20th August www.1929.org.uk Venue: The Warren, Edinburgh

Cutting-edge theatre company 19;29 is bringing its distinct mix of immersive theatre, technology and invention to the Fringe with a groundbreaking new production; Threshold. This year the Fringe extends beyond the city and across the threshold of the ordinary, into a world of unstable homes and crumbling legacies. Performed in conjunction with the Roxy Art House and Richard Demarco and combining film, audio, performance and web interaction, Threshold is based on the telling and re-telling of the legend of Bluebeard. Visitors will be taken to a secret location in remote Scotland, where they encounter a world of creaking morals and familial degradation. Faced with the repercussions of their actions in a house torn between two generations at the tipping point between fiction and reality, 19;29 challenge the conventions of both live and immersive performance.

LET’S HAVE SEX Black Coffee Theatre was created over a cup of coffee in 2010 by artistic directors Luke Adamson, Jonathan James Holby and Maria Crocker. All three are current students at ALRA, the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London. They’re heading to the Edinburgh Festival with the sweet and saucy Let’s Have Sex. The play was first staged in Moscow in 2003, and after translation into English, galloped around the globe, with productions popping up in Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, India, Australia and Croatia. “It is a lot of work, and it’s definitely depriving all of us of a few good nights sleep. But we all know it’s crucial these days to start producing your own work, and to get it seen by the industry. Learning the ropes now will save us heartache later on… That’s the theory anyway!” says Luke Adamson.

FRANCES RUFFELLE: BENEATH THE DRESS Tony Award winner and West End and Broadway star Frances Ruffelle is bringing her one woman show, Beneath the Dress, to the brand new Pleasance venue. Billed as a fabulous cabaret-esque act backed by a live band, Ruffelle will perform her latest songs as well as some old favourites – a nod to all the influences from her career. The show promises to reveal the true “Frankie Ruff”.

Visit www.edfringe.com to find out more

Dates: 4th August to 30th August (expect Tuesdays) Venue: Pleasance Ghillie Due (V236)

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Photo: Catherine Ashmore

theatrereview theatrereviews

After the dance

aspects of love

wolfboy

Lyttelton, National Theatre

Menier Chocolate Factory

Trafalgar Studios 2

The National Theatre have jumped the gun on the 2011 Terrence Rattigan Centenary with After The Dance the “lost” Rattigan and it’s not hard to fathom why it’s remained practically un-found since the premiere in 1939. Even a pitch-perfect production such as this cannot disguise a thin story peopled with the kind of annoying characters one almost wishes the second world war upon. That’s the point, of course, the generation that escaped the first world war grew fat, idle, decadent and spoilt says Rattigan, but spending two and a half hours with them palls ever so slightly. In French Without Tears it’s okay because it’s all whimsey, here there’s a tragedy. Our ‘hero’, for instance, is a useless writer and emotionally stunted, but at least he’s played by the perfectlyformed Benedict Cumberbatch. How often is the voice neglected these days, odd when that’s how it all began, the acting thing, with the voice, no good auditioning for Aeschylus if you didn’t have a voice to fill the Colosseum. It’s not all about the size but quality too - so fittingly and effortlessly deployed here by BC. In fact full marks should go to the NT’s casting department who have excelled themselves from the Doctor cameo of Giles Cooper, elegantly played and a lesson in appropriate etiquette for the period to Adrian Scarborough’s podgy parlour parasite. The programme carries a fabulous photo of a 30’s party in full-blown cocaine and martini fuelled swing. The party glimpsed on stage in Act 2 seems tame by comparison, if that’s Thea Sharrock’s idea of decadent abandon she needs to get out more, brilliant as she is. At times it’s hysterically funny but my laughing was not encouraged by the tut tutting audience around me, 99% of whom were probably at the pre-war premiere, perhaps they knew of the melodramatic tragedy Rattigan shoe-horns into Act 2 to give the story substance. It’s an odd love story that sees Cumberbatch’s character abandon his elegant and beautiful wife for an irritating busy-body. Do National Theatre audiences get your goat too sometimes? I only got a ticket allocation of one, not complaining, very grateful and I heartily recommend After the Dance if you can get a ticket, but it’s no fun is it? Sitting on your own surrounded by people who just don’t get it. Runs until 11th August 2010 Josh Logan

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Menier Chocolate Factory magic works its spell again with a chamber treatment of Aspects of Love. Some of these big shows don’t stand up to close analysis. Here the sophistication of the book and lyrics by the inimitable Charles Hart and Don Black provide an always witty play which happens to be set to music. That’s how it feels even though Andrew Lloyd Webber writes the music first and his lyricists have to fit round him, poor things. It is to their credit that it doesn’t feel that way around at all. Under the impeccable and detailed direction of Trevor Nunn, who did the overblown West End and Broadway originals, the actors here often make the choice to speak the lyrics. Dangerous this, as one could ask:‘What was the point of setting them to music in the first place?’ I think they get away with it in striving to prevent the melodies from getting in the way of the storytelling. Sorry guys, but Trevor was of the opinion that no British musical theatre actor could cut the mustard and instead he turned to a young American actor he’d auditioned for A Little Night Music on Broadway, but who he deemed too young for the role there, importing him instead, a year later, for this. Readers – don’t sulk. Go and learn from Michael Arden as to just why this happened. You’ll be the better for it. Arden has arrived, catch him while you can, connecting so totally to the material he wrings every ounce from as if it were the Henrik Ibsen so parodied in the plot. Beautiful, charming, charismatic, expertly comedic and with an emotional range to span the Atlantic. Oh, he also sings with virtuosic control, colour, power and tone. Michael Arden is mesmeric. He is partnered in an always elegant, stylish but piercingly earthy and truthful Rose Vibert of Katherine Kingsley – she’s a Brit. Together they are a transatlantic antidote to the slush this could have become. Dave Willets is a revelation as the third member of the ménage, a silver fox star to be taken seriously and perfectly cast. Dominic Tighe (Central trained) lends beautifully observed, sympathetic support as hunky Hugo – the bit on the side. It’s worth the ticket price alone for the orchestrations of the great David Cullen - an aspect I loved. Runs until 26th September 2010 Josh Logan

I was in the audience at the very first performance of Wolfboy The Musical when it previewed at the Tabard Theatre in Chiswick, before being unleashed to audiences at the Edinburgh Festival last year. Incidentally, I found myself in the audience again whilst in the city scouring various productions on the fringe. Perhaps there was a force that lured me back to this chilling production, albeit in a somewhat raw state, but nonetheless its dark energy and strong narrative hooking me in. It resonated. A lot. Wolfboy is a stage play by Canadian playwright Brad Fraser, an original production that made a name of Keanu Reeves in the 80s. It follows the journey of two boys, David and Bernie (Paul Holowaty and Gregg Lowe returning to the West End production), who find themselves in neighbouring rooms of a psychiatric hospital. Bernie is an attractive grade A student, who on the surface seems to have it all, though a futile attempt at suicide suggests a darker past. He soon encounters David, an unstable teenager who believes his soul is a wolf. The friendship is formed and we’re taken on a chilling ride of endurance. Holowaty gives a committed performance as David, his unpredictable and mysterious charm oozing on every level. Lowe is equally strong in his portrayal as Bernie, whose recollection of years of abuse is played with a real sense of suffering. Daniel Boys steps up to the mark as Bernie’s complex older brother Christian, proving he’s got more to offer than that terrific voice, he’s also a pretty smart actor too. It’s perhaps the most difficult role to play here, yet Boys not only belts out his numbers ‘pitch-perfect’, he also approaches the character with a vulnerability that seems to add another plane to his relationship with his brother. There’s also an assured performance from Emma Rigby of Hollyoaks fame, whose Nurse Cherry brings the necessary light relief. Wolfboy’s transfer to London didn’t surprise me and having reworked the piece since Edinburgh, Director Russell Labey delivers a stronger, sharper and much more dangerous production, where the stakes are elevated. Leon Parris’ unnerving score sets the tone perfectly and whilst there ‘aint no jazz hands and tap shoe’ numbers, the music stays with you long after the bows. The Trafalgar Studio 2 venue adds to the claustrophobic mood, in what is an intense and powerful production, performed with passion and directed with expert precision. I was crushed. Once again. Runs until 31st July 2010 Matthew Bannerman


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Photo: Joan Marcus

curtaincall

EDUCATING RITA & SHIRLEY VALENTINE The Menier Chocolate Factory’s sell-out season of Willy Russell plays transfers to London’s West End for a limited time only! Educating Rita stars Tim Pigott-Smith as university professor Frank, and newcomer Laura Dos Santos as the brash young hairdresser who discovers a passion for English literature, in a production that is ‘Superb, humorous and deeply moving. A truly great play.’ (Daily Telegraph). Shirley Valentine stars Meera Syal in ‘London’s Best Comic Performance’ (Time Out), as the Liverpudlian housewife who rediscovers her zest for life following a trip to Greece – and a chance encounter with the local Casanova. Runs until 30 October 2010

WIN WIN WIN

theatre INTO THE WOODS

Take advantage of these warm summer nights, get outside and experience alfresco theatre in London. Into the Woods at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park, takes the stories of the Brothers Grimm and gives them a dark and humorous twist. The popular tales of Red Riding Hood, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Cinderella and Rapunzel are interwoven with that of the Baker and his Wife and their quest to have a child. However this re-telling goes beyond ‘happily ever after’ as the familiar characters find themselves in unfamiliar circumstances and hopes and dreams are questioned and revisited. Runs from 6th August until 11th September 2010.

OPEN AIR THEATRE Inner Circle, Regent’s Park London, NW1 4NR BOX OFFICE: 0844 826 4242 www.openairtheatre.org

To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets for either show, please answer the following question: Name another Willie Russell production that is currently playing in London’s West End? *Closing date: Friday 20th August 2010. Terms & Conditions apply.

TRAFALGAR STUDIOS Whitehall London, SW1A 2DY www.willyrussellseason.com

HOLLAND PARK Ilchester Place London, W8 6LU Box Office: 0845 230 9769 www.ohp.rbkc.gov.uk

FANTASTIC MR FOX The beautiful gardens of Holland Park will be at the centre of this operatic version of Roald Dahl’s classic story, Fantastic Mr Fox, this summer. This new version is commissioned by Opera Holland Park and has been especially designed to be performed in the natural scenery of the park’s Yucca Lawn. The opera will feature members of the City of London Symphonia and with glorious melodies framing the story of the wily Mr Fox and his bid to outwit his farmer neighbours, this is an enchanting hour of entertainment for audiences of all ages. Runs July 26, 29, 31, August 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14 @ 3pm.

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culturefocus

culture

London Transport Museum

Photo: London Transport Museum © Transport for London

If you’re fascinated with history and looking for something a little different this summer, head down to the London Transport Museum, where you can explore artefacts and all things ‘transport’ from years gone by. There is an array of collections and exhibitions currently on show, including Overground Uncovered – celebrating the new London Overground line, an exhibition that explores over 160 years of history and innovation behind the building of the new line, providing a snapshot of cultural highlights along the way.

Watch this space There’s no excuse not to experience the very best in outdoor performance this summer, as the National Theatre come up trumps with their summer al fresco festival, Watch This Space – a FREE celebration of theatre, circus, dance, acrobatics, storytelling and film events for all ages. It’s all happening in Theatre Square, the area in front of the National on London’s Southbank, throughout the summer months. The festival is bursting with great entertainment to enthral you as a number of outstanding national and international artists are welcomed, bringing to life various spaces in, on and around Denys Lasdun’s iconic building. The giant playful installation, ‘Armchair Theatre’, is back for your comfort, providing you with the best seats in (or outside) the house to watch the summer unfold. Runs until 26th September 2010. Theatre Square, National Theatre South Bank London, SE1 9PX www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/wts

Covent Garden Piazza London, WC2E 7BB Tel. 020 7379 6344 www.ltmuseum.co.uk

BBC Proms It’s Britain’s largest outdoor classical music concert held in London’s Hyde Park. Now in its 15th year, BBC Proms in the Park sees the cast of Jersey Boys kicking off the afternoon’s entertainment. Oliver! star Kerry Ellis has been signed up as well as the world famous Three Tenors. The main event takes place on 11th September and is expected to attract 40,000 people, with The Last Night of the Proms that evening held at Royal Albert Hall. If you can’t get hold of a ticket for the final concert, which celebrates a quintessentially British tradition with international artists, make sure you tune in to BBC television or radio to experience the all-embracing programme. www.bbc.co.uk/proms

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theatrefestival

theatre festival

24:7

Manchester’s 24:7 Theatre Festival, one of the region’s landmark cultural events, is due to open its doors again for a week this Summer, writes Francesca Waite. Brainchild of actor David Slack, the festival began in 2004 offering an opportunity for untapped talent to have their work produced with help from an experienced and supportive group of theatre-lovers. In 2004 there were 24 plays over seven days that ran for an hour each. This year the judging panel have been restricted to selecting ten plays to be showcased from hundreds of entries. In addition, there

will be rehearsed readings of four other scripts in development, an interesting chance for the playwright to see their work performed and for an audience to witness work in progress. The plays have always been produced in non-theatre spaces and this year is no exception as they make New Century House, a building owned by the Co-operative, their home.

Yvonne I’Anson remembers the actors who have shaped our rich theatrical and cinematic history. Charles Laughton 1899 - 1952 This issue I would like to introduce you to a larger-than-life actor Charles Laughton, who died before I was born but whose film work I have enjoyed and admired. I have chosen Mr Laughton not only because I consider him an important part of our history but because he is a fellow Yorkshire man - better still, I am proud that we share the same birth place, the lovely seaside resort of Scarborough. Laughton was born on 1 July 1899. His parents owned the Victoria Hotel and after World War I, in which Charles served, he returned to Scarborough to work in the family business. He had developed a love of acting at school and in 1925 he moved to London to become a student at RADA and the following year made his professional debut. He went on to appear in many London productions including the 1933-34 season at the Old Vic playing Macbeth, Henry VIII, Angelo in Measure for Measure and Prospero in The Tempest. In 1936, he was the first English actor to appear at the Comédie-Française, Paris appearing in Molière’s Le Médecin malgré lui, performing his role in French. At the end of that year, Laughton played Captain Hook and his wife, Elsa Lanchester played Peter Pan at the London Palladium. His performance in the 1947 American production of Bertolt Brecht’s Life of Galileo, when he work closely with Brecht, is legendary. He also directed several plays on Broadway. Laughton returned to the London stage in May 1958 to direct and star in The Party and he made his final theatre appearances

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as Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and as King Lear at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in 1959. Laughton had a remarkable stage career but he is best known for his film work and he was very passionate about all mediums which were available to the wider audiences. Although his film career started in London, following his American stage debut in 1931 he was offered his first Hollywood film, The Old Dark House (1932) in which he played a bluff Yorkshire businessman. Other films included Nero in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Sign of the Cross and Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame for RKO (one of my favourites). He first worked with the legendary film director Alexander Korda in 1933 playing Henry VIII in The Private Life of Henry VIII, for which he won an Academy Award. Other film work includes Javert in Les Misérables (1935), and one of his most famous roles (another favourite) - William Bligh in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), co-starring the Hollywood heart-throb Clark Gable. Back in the UK, his film work continued including Jamaica Inn, and he was superb in David Lean’s production of Hobson’s Choice (1954) and received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for his role as Sir Wilfrid Robarts in the screen version of Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution (1957). He was also a familiar face on television and was the fill-in host on


For the public it means a week of exciting new drama and comedy and the opportunity to experience something different from the norm. For aspiring or experienced theatre professionals, it allows them to produce work in a premier fringe festival. In previous years, 24:7, who boast actor John Henshaw as their Chairman, have seen performances from established actors, including Coronation Street’s Vicky Binns and Michael Stark. But the festival’s beauty is the opportunity that it offers for unknown actors, writers and directors to cut their teeth with a week-long run in the theatre. Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens enthuses about the festival: “Playwriting has been re-energised in Manchester. A generation is developing in the city for whom writing for theatre is as exciting and urgent as rock and roll, and stand up comedy, and football. There is an explosion of new plays, new theatre companies and new writers. There is no doubt that 24:7 is absolutely at the heart of that.” One of the plays to successfully make this year’s festival is PAWN, by ex-policeman Brian Marchbank. The play is directed by Dennis Keighron-Foster, who has just graduated with a distinction in TV & Film Broadcasting from The Manchester College. The cast is made up of newcomers to the festival, plus a few 24:7 regulars. Matthew Stead, a recent graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University, who plays a soldier in the play, says of the hostage drama: “It’s dirty, dangerous, edgy and funny. It’s about what we want from life, but also what life ends up giving you. We’re looking forward to presenting something that’s a bit in your face”. Sarah McDonald Hughes has had two of her plays selected for the festival in previous years, but will be attending as a member of the audience this year. Her play, Maine Road, which premiered at 24:7 2009, has since been made into a play for BBC Radio 4 and was successfully toured nationally by Monkeywood Theatre. Sarah says of the benefits of the festival: “24:7 has been absolutely key in my development as a writer. When I had my first play, A Song For The Lovers, accepted into the festival in 2006 it made me see writing as a real possibility. 24:7 succeeds because of its true commitment to supporting new writing and writers by placing them at the very heart of the process. I’ve seen some fantastic work and it’s great that Manchester has this valuable opportunity for writers, performers, theatre makers and audiences.” The 2010 24:7 festival will open on Monday 26th July until Sunday 1st August. A full programme of the 54 events is available at www.247theatrefestival.co.uk

NEVER FORGET

9 September, 1956, when Elvis Presley made his first appearance on CBS’s The Ed Sullivan Show. One of his last performances was on an early-sixties blackand-white TV show Checkmate, in which he played a missionary recently returned from China. He actually went to China for several months in order to better understand his character. Charles Laughton was not blessed with the looks and body of a romantic leading man but his uniqueness, his characterisations, his passion, power and a wonderfully clear and distinctive voice blended together to give him his own brand of star quality. Like many, he had his own personal demons. He married Elsa Lanchester in 1929, and although Laughton was gay, they remained together, as constant companions, until his death. The couple became Amercian citizens in 1950. Charles Laughton died of cancer on 15 December 1952. Sadly the family hotel in Scarborough was demolished and replaced with some monstrosity (hand your head in shame Scarborough Council). Look out for any films shown on television starring Charles Laughton - and enjoy. You make also like to read more and Simon Callow has written a biography entitled: Charles Laughton: A Difficult Actor. ●

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DISTRIBUTION Paul McGuire CONTRIBUTORS Yvonne I’Anson, Kathy Trevelyan, Charlie Rutherford, Teunkie van der Sluijs, Veronica Humphris, Sarah Clark, Daniella Gibb, Karl Hood, Helen Dunning, Knight Hooson, Michael Culkin, Simon Dunmore, Louise Grainger, Yvonne I’Anson, Josh Logan, Francesca Waite. COVER IMAGE Matt Crockett Published by MarcoMatt Media LLP Top Floor, 66 Wansey Street London SE17 1JP Tel: 020 7701 4536 Fax:  070 9284 6523 www.thedramastudent.co.uk editor@thedramastudent.co.uk SUBSCRIPTION 12 months subscription 4 issues - £12.90 ISSN 2041-7330 © Copyright MarcoMatt Media LLP 2010 all rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of the publishers. The views and opinions expressed by contributors may not necessarily represent the views of the Editor and the publishers. MarcoMatt Media LLP take no responsibility for claims made in advertisements featured in this magazine. Information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy and the opinions based thereon are not guaranteed.

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Casting Days is looking for trained actors seeking new representation‌ Casting Days will be introducing showcases for highly talented actors looking for a new direction within their career. The showcases are a chance to show off new audition speeches and meet casting directors, agents and other industry professionals. To be considered for the first showcase taking place in central London in September, please email felicityjackson@castingdays.com

For more information please visit www.castingdays.com Auditions are by invitation only


The Drama Student - Issue 7