Jennifer Evans Photography
Check out this woman, she does great headshots that’ll get you noticed. Grab 10 percent discount when you mention ActorAwareness
Check out this woman, she does great headshots that’ll get you noticed. Grab 10 percent discount when you mention ActorAwareness
I am becoming increasingly concerned about my ability to maintain a creative life, working three jobs to maintain my head above water, some days I feel excited (generally after I’ve done bit of writing or acting) and other times (generally after I’ve looked at my bank account) I get sucked into a cloud of financial doom. Currently I am suffering at the hands of a huge loan I took out for my Foundation course that I did at Drama school. The monthly repayments are killing me and I’ve had to move out my house and sofa surf between my mum, sister and boyfriend. My nomadic lifestyle doesn’t feel very arty or hip, more desperate and worried that it’ll always be this way unless I land some life changing money through winning the lottery or going all ‘Breaking Bad’. This is the life of an actor right? So I’m prepared, I’m fully prepared to do this, and I’m not afraid of hard work. I’ll make it work as there is so much more work that I have and that I want to see the light of day. But I would be financially better off if I had never done my foundation course. So was it worth???
So are Foundations courses worth it? What happens when you don’t have parents or relatives to fund you through? Are these a waste of money?
I did one and I’m not sure how valuable it is in the industry. Do professionals/agents/Cd’s even look at it as valuable? I did one as I thought maybe it would be the only training I would ever get, so I threw myself into it. Spending time on the course I soon realized for some people it was a holiday, some kids were there as they weren’t sure what they wanted to do with their life and thought they’d would test it out. Allot of people wanted to progress but there was plenty of people clearly there not personally footing the bill, so they had no idea what it feels like to drag yourself through 10 months of stress to come out the other side with a certificate that states you attended lesson and no clear standing or mark within the professional circuit, although they do state at the end of a foundation course that you are not a professional actor, so it’s probably not the aim of the course. So it kinda leaves me wandering what is the point of them…..
I think I am feeling annoyed, annoyed that maybe I wasted my money. At the time I felt it was very valuable being in school everyday, movement and breathing and swinging my arm till it was loose in my socket that I could touch my toes. But on reflection as I eat super noodles every day, going between houses and living out of a suitcase, I think how far has it got me? Am I different now? not really. What I learnt could I learn on the job? most likely. The problem is I wanted to go to Drama school so bad and it became quite all consuming, a living breathing monster, I must get in to drama school, without it I’m nothing, who’ll will even take me seriously. I spent too much money on auditions and that was the beginning of my financial suicide, after the foundation offer I got a loan, then a credit card to support my expenses and it snowballed. Now I am in 11,000 pound debt that I barely pay off monthly. I work my arse off on fringe projects I love and that’s the thing that keeps me going , I am doing something I love, I am creating art with passionate people and it is thanks to Actor Awareness and the people I’ve met through this campaign- otherwise it would of been ten times more of a struggle to get my work made. When people tell me that Actor Awareness keeps on banging about the working class I want to shout at them and tell them it’s a f**king problem, the only kids accepting any foundation places aren’t those from working class backgrounds, no way!!! Half the people who do foundations progress to a BA, because they’ve had that experience and confident boast of being in that environment. So working class people are already on the back foot there, and I wouldn’t recommend doing what I did (getting a bank loan) as it’s a monthly debt you’re tied to that is SO hard to pay every month (whilst gathering interest!) it’s a struggle alone to afford the rest of London life -rising rent, bills, food etc.
My opinion is if you want training and you are determined to go to Drama school, wait for a BA place, because there is plenty of other ways to practice your craft, I think the Americans have it right with classes. There are some drama schools like Rada that do classes and they do subidise some places if you can state your financial position, these courses provide fantastic tutors and can be done at your leisure when you have saved up the money. My advice get proactive, no one gets anywhere sitting and thinking, it’s the doing that propels you. So if you didn’t get into drama school this year, maybe your too skint to get the headshots and showreels that an actor requires go away write a play, make a film on your iPhone, get involved with us here at Actor Awareness.
Tweet #Foundationcourse @steffiegg12 and say yes or no to whether you think these courses are worth doing. let us know what you think.
How did you come to acting?
Slowly and painfully. My mother was very keen on getting me into drama at a young age. She herself was a performer, from stunt work, to stand up comedy, to TV, Film and Radio, she had done it all and knew that at the very least, performing was a confidence builder, so she was keen to nudge me through the door. I went to Stage Coach when I was 7, accidentally locked myself in a toilet, cried and didn’t go back for almost 10 years. I reluctantly took part in a few school plays when I was growing up and I was just the worst, but I was finding myself and on reflection, a small part of me enjoyed it. The moment it clicked for me, the moment I knew it was the only thing I ever wanted to do in my entire life, wasn’t sudden and didn’t hit me like a bolt of lightning, it came over time and slowly built until one day in 6th form I looked back, and I could actually see my progress. I could see that I used to be a certain level and that I wasn’t like that anymore, I’d improved and i’d enjoyed working to figure out ways in which I could create a more believable performance. That gave me a hell of a lot of faith in the idea that you can achieve anything if you work hard enough. I wasn’t born with a natural talent, I wasn’t born with a desire to act, simply a desire to get copious amounts of attention and then that developed into wanting to actually DESERVE that attention and any attention I got that I feel wasn’t deserved, I’d just think ‘Yeah but what if you saw me do it better?’ and now because of that I can never be truly happy and I am stuck in vicious circle of always wanting more…L.O.L.
What difference is there in Tv and film for you?
Everything. It’s just completely different in my eyes. When I performed my first ever professional showreel scene, I was told I was acting 100% and I need to act 20% because it’s camera. This advice really slowed down my progress with acting for camera. I was majorly underacting for a good half a year if not longer. When you act for camera, you are not acting less, that’s bollocks. You’re acting to someone right in front of you. In theatre, you’re acting to someone at the back of a huge room. They’re both as real as each other. The reason theatre is large is because people need to see you who have bought the cheap seats. Camera is right there and will see right through you if you’re lying and I absolutely love it. It’s so exciting. The idea that you can convince people you are someone else, in a medium which is so up close and personal is just awesome and I look forward to every opportunity I get to be in front of camera to enhance that ability. I won’t stop until I’m the best liar in the world.
When and why did you decide to start your own production company?
2014! I had a premiere in LA for a film I was in and I wanted to take a friend so I took my mate Aran who is a cinematographer and we made a Vlog. Which was just ridiculous and immature and can never be seen by the world. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R37SIOFTrpE Once we got back, despite the vlog being purely a joke, it actually came out really well. Aran is just phenominal at what he does, he sets the bar so high on what looks good so despite this vlog having no thought to it, no planning, obviously no money, it actually came out really well! So from there I couldn’t help but think what we could do if we actually put thought into making something. So that’s how it got going. I wanted to create films and act in them and Aran wanted to film them.
Whats your biggest challenge to date?
I was called to act in a film in Tunisia, I was very smack bang in the middle of really trying to move from theatre to film at this point so my acting was, at times, fairly questionable. In my head I was just trying to stay true to the character and keep my movements more precise. So when the American director asked me to act more Hollywood, less BBC acting, I was extremely confused. At one hand I was trying to not over-act but he wanted me…to…what? I dunno. Still don’t.
What projects do you have on the horizon?
Acting wise I have a few definite maybes next year, I’m in talks with award winning author Linda Dunscombe to work on her next feature film which is exciting. In terms of film making, I am looking to direct my first feature, likely early next year! Can’t say too much about it yet but I have a HUGE amount of faith in it, as anyone should with their own project because it’ll make them poorer than they’ve ever been before (but rich with happiness)(Awh).
As an Independant filmmaker, how do you fund your projects?
At this point I have only done shorts so I have saved up and spent my own money, leaving enough for a can of beans to keep me going for the week…I’m lying…I spend a lot of money on food ok? Too much. It’s a problem. But I am just now creating my first ever package to show private investors. I’m excited about it. After creating Crucible Films and managing the business side of things i’ve learnt a hell of a lot and I genuinely feel I can raise the 100K i’m looking for. 100k is nothing. It’s peanuts, which in many ways is actually harder to get than 3M because people don’t feel you can make a profitable product with such a low sum. But I can and I will. I’ve worked out the maths and I got a B in maths. I think a B+ in additional maths as well so…take that as you will. A lot of people go through crowd funding and I’m not a fan. I only want to go that route for a specific factor of the film. For example, acquiring a named actor. This way people who are investing know that without them the film will be made and it’s going to be great but with their help it can be incredible and get further. So basically there’s already a higher aim than just making the film.
What advise would you give yourself when first starting out?
Get a headshot and showreel booked on day 1. Imagine how many actors there are out there and that’s your competition. Knock around half of that off if you have a showreel and headshot. It just places you head and shoulders above the rest. Professionals won’t even look at you if you don’t have them, so get them ASAP. It’s so hard to get work when you have everything, so why would you make that even harder. Obviously the answer to that is money, a showreel can be pricey, but grab anything you can. Film a nice clear, well lit monologue on your phone and use that while you wait for footage to come through. That’s already tonnes better than nothing! Casting directors just want to see what you look like on camera so get it done any way you can.
If you were making your first short again what would you definitely do and not do?
Ah ‘Pundemic’ my film about a Pandemic of Puns. Get it? Of course you do, it’s genius. It’s currently finishing off the festival circuit and made it into a few festivals so for a first ever film, I am very happy with it. As with everything you do you look back and think, that’s not so great, this could be better, but with that being said, you have to make mistakes to improve. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly I’d change because I loved every second and most changes would be money related, so it’d be a case of, more kit, more crew. The main thing is organising the limited time you have. I was very much ‘Ah yeah this shot will take like 30 minutes’ because my technical knowledge was limited so you have to give yourself time and plan and prepare so much. Assume everything will go wrong and then you’ll have an answer for when it does.
Any top advise for new filmakers?
It’s too early days for me to be dishing out gems of wisdom regarding film making, i’m still finding my feet with it all but just get in there and do it. Too many people keep finding something to wait for and you only improve by getting stuck in. You can make a short over a weekend and whack so laurels on it from festivals. With that comes nominations. Directing, Acting, Writing all of it. You could become award winning thanks to a weekend.
In this industry today what do you feel is a hurdle?
Money. We need it. Gimmie.
You are also a director, what do you love about directing?
I never expected to go into directing. When I started making films my intention was to create my own acting opportunities while I wait for my agent to get me work their end. I didn’t want to just sit and do nothing and stare at CCP, crying onto a poster I printed out of a cat hanging from a ceiling that says ‘Hang in there’. I wrote scripts, saw myself in a role, but then when the time came to give the script to someone to direct, I seriously didn’t want to. At all. I knew exactly how I wanted it to look and I had no one else I felt I could rely on to deliver that. So I did it myself. I loved it. It was such an incredible experience because I felt like a trainee in many ways and it gave me a HUGE insight into acting and the timings it takes for crew to set up and just made me appreciate film so much more. I love discussing with actors how I envision the scene and they’re character’s thought process, and when I see them deliver that it makes me so happy, then on top of that, when they deliver something slightly different to what I was looking for and it’s awesome I’m like ‘Whaaaaaat?!’ because it opens my eyes even more and teaches me something new. I think a lot of people get caught up in the idea that a Director knows all because he has to because he is in control of everything. That’s not true at all. I think the Director needs to know exactly what he wants but be open to the idea that something else could prop up and if you’re open to it, you could run with that and create something even more awesome.
Do you feel as a actor you are able to direct better?
In one sense, yes, being an actor helps me communicate with other actors more easily, I mean all actors to some extent have experiences similar things, we’ve all been to classes, auditions, headshots, showreels, received 100’s of no’s and 1 yes and then they ask you to get topless and you say ‘But that wasn’t in the breakdown’ and they say ‘just do it Calvert’ and then you cry and take your top off. We’ve all been there. So that does help when I’m explaining a thought process or a character’s objective in a scene. Plus, after being an actor on sets that don’t feed you and don’t acknowledge that you’re freezing etc, it does make me more aware of the cast and crew and if they’re ok and comfortable. At the end of the day, a happy cast and crew is more valuable than anything because yes we’re making a film but 1. We’re doing it because we’ve chosen to be in a really difficult industry, so it should be damn fun, that’s why we chose it right?! And 2. No one gives there best when they’re cold and hungry. Sometimes filming goes on longer, that’s the way it is, so people can’t be uncomfortable or they just won’t want to be there and that sucks. The only reason I’d say no, an actor background doesn’t help in some sense, is that I started off with a severe lack of knowledge about the technical side of things, cameras, lighting etc, I had no idea. So that was a roadblock for a while, but like I say with experience comes…well…experience…and over time I did my research and picked it up.
Red Chord Theatre Company
If you’re involved in the acting industry, be it as a new writer, or other artist or even a begrudgingly supportive parent, then you will understand the harsh reality of how competitive and hard work it can feel. There are currently 65 000 registered actors which is honestly quite daunting and baffling – why would anyone put themselves through such long hours, sometimes for little to no pay? Red Chord Theatre Company wants to remind the world of why we became performing artists in the first place: because we bloody enjoy it. It recognises that being in the arts doesn’t mean that you have to see everyone else as a threat, but as a way to build each other up. Resident to Clapham Library, it is their goal to build a community feel where theatre, music and poetry are celebrated and emerging artists are welcomed and actively encouraged.
Red Chord Theatre Company is run by six actors, musicians and poets, all who create and perform their own work in places such as the Fringe Festivals, The Roundhouse, Shaftesbury Theatre, Southbank Centre, Gerry’s Soho, BBC 1Xtra, SLAM Kings X, Hot Vox, Theatre N16 and a rehearsed reading at The National Theatre. Whilst they continue to put themselves through the sweat, blood and tears that is creating their own writing, they, with Clapham Library, wish to hold the space as a platform for other emerging artists with no upfront cost. As the company is run by artists in the same position, they have grasped the needs of their fellow performers and are able to produce work that will inspire an audience to create and enjoy theatre.
Their first event is an Acoustic and Poetry evening on 26th November, where upcoming musicians and poets get to share their own work amongst friends and family with pizza and beer, a combination that literally brings music to our ears. Sat on cushions, surrounded by lights and indulging in goodies, this evening will be the perfect way to relax into the weekend as the audience unwind to the beautiful lyrics of artists such as Lostboy and SugarJ Poet.
Their plans for future events include ‘A Play in A Week’, an improvisation night and ‘A Christmas Carol’.
Give them a follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @redchordtheatre for more information and exclusive content.
Harrison when did you want to start making a film?
Well, since I was 7 years old I’ve always had a passion for creating content, even if it was on a Sony Ericsson mobile phone. I’ve made a few short films over the years, one in 2014 and two in 2015 and then one this year. I consider this film to be my best to date. How did you come up for your idea for your current short? It’s a crazy and funny story really, I get most of my ideas for films by dreaming really weird dreams, this so happens to be the case for ‘Logan Hunter’ I dreamt originally that it would be set with a western theme and aliens were trying to attack him, not candidates, so this is where I got the idea from. I recommended just sleep and see what your brain does while it’s having a mad one.
As a brand new filmmaker what did you find challenging on your first short?
Almost everything. Let’s be realistic and honest, I’m not an expert I’m not a professional, obviously. It’s literally me with a camera and microphone and a few of my mates as crew helping me carrying my equipment, one of the challenges I faced was filming in the stately home. I imagined this from the very beginning and just needed it to be perfect so I set out searching and this ended up being one of the most difficult tasks, I rang around spoke to about 4 different places in just one day asking if they would let me film. Then one day I had a lightbulb moment and realised I could film at Cliffe Castle where they were fully supportive and it was exactly what I intended on filming.
What are you taking from making this short, to the next film, so you become better at the process?
The main point of improvement for me and what I shall take on to another production will be to get together a team of people who are interested in different areas of the production. Hopefully I’d like to form a sort of production team, because at the moment I am Directing, lighting, sound, editing and script writing, so it’s a hell of a lot for one person to do and I have to admit I’m not exactly brilliant at lighting and sound so it can reflect in my films.
How do you feel indie filmmaker stand in the industry at the moment?
Indie film makers stand quite high (if I’m honest) from my perspective, maybe they don’t have a fancy car, big houses and loads of money, but they are people doing something they love and are passionate about, as for the industry most big production companies like Netflix and HBO even ITV higher freelance film makers and camera operators if they like what they see, so I think indie film making is an exciting ride, not knowing what’s around the corner, and being able to step into the unknown. To most people that is scary, but there’s a big element of excitement and I look forward to that.
Filmmaking is collaborative, what do you feel is important for a small team to have to make a good film?
The key to having a successful and happy crew is being able to have a laugh and joke around whilst at the same time getting the job done as professionally and relaxed as possible. Another important attribute to have is communication skills, they need to be of a high standard making sure that things are done correctly and done correctly first time, this saves hours, time and money – a lot of money.
What are your next plans?
My plans as of now are to just carry on writing short films and see when one comes along that I am able to do between studying at university and working part time. I’m helping out on other productions to see how the logistics of their production team works, this way I’ll be picking up experience too. It’d be great to create some more contacts which will enable me to venture out further and get knowledge and advice off people around me interested in film making.
Many Thanks to Harrison and wish him all the best of luck!
Our scratch nights are going from strength to strength, here is the list of selected writers for our Mental Health Night that was SOLD OUT and a success.
Mandem by Lee Whitelock
Owls by Jayne Woodhouse, Directed by Gaz Wilson
Immerse by Stephanie Silver, Directed by Peter Taylor
Sad About The Cows by Michelle Payne
The night was hosted by the gorgeous Kara Alberts with extracts from her new musical Second Hands Gone. We had guest speaker Oli Regan, which this night would not have existed without and he will be sharing some of his own experiences with mental health.
Review from the night here :
ttps://thelondontheatrereviewer.wordpress.com/reviews/Actor Awareness Else where—–
Some of our success scratch night plays have been developed and are running at fringe venues in London. Go support them right now!!
Birth of a Nation @ Slam 28,29,30th October. @Indigochildarts
Writer/Actor/Director Michelle Paynes is producing The Staffroom which will be at QueensTheatre Hornchurch. This was once a small scratch piece, now a full length play after development through Actor Awareness. Michelle is a follower we have had great belief in and she has flourished through our events.
’53two’ is Manchester’s newest, biggest and most versatile Arts Venue, managed by Manchester Actors’ Platform. Spanning two of Deansgate’s famous tunnels, the venue is made up of two separate components; ‘53’ & ‘two’. The venue will be operated primarily as a theatre and cafe, with the space also offering room for exhibitions, gigs, events, celebrations, rehearsals, classes, conferences, banquets, weddings and more. ’53two’ will be operated as a charity and once running costs have been met, actors and creatives paid, profit will be held in a ‘pot’. At regular intervals, the sum or portions thereof will be donated to upcoming artists, actors and/or musicians as a bursary to train, record or develop their work.
JB Shorts’ hugely popular and critically acclaimed formula of ‘Six fifteen Minute plays by top TV writers’ has been attracting thousands of Manchester theatergoers to the basement of Joshua Brooks for the past eight years. After the sell out success of our last few seasons, we have found a new home at the incredibly exciting new arts Hub 53two. JB Shorts writers and actor James Quinn comments ‘The JB Shorts team are incredibly excited about this move, as the versatile theatre space in Deansgate’s famous tunnel offers the underground atmosphere of out previous fifteen shows but in a larger and more adaptable space” . 53two founder Simon Naylor says’ “Having such a ‘Manchester-centric’ event at 53two is incredible. It’s exactly the sort of theatre we wanted to promote and work with and its history of bringing the best actors and writers to smaller stages has been incredible. We hope we can play a valuable part in it’s future and providing it with the platform it is now worthy of.”
1st – 12th November. Matinees: Sat 12th November. 7:30pm. £7
How did you become to be an actor? Is it something you were always drawn to ?I always wanted to join the army, from about the age of 4. I never wanted anything else really – it was all planned out. I was going to join up, go to university and then go on a officer training course. When it came to signing, my asthma prevented me from even putting pen to paper and that was at about 17. So, in a nut shell, no. I’d always done the school plays and enjoyed acting but it was never my dream.
You trained back at Italia Conti, what did you think your training prepared you for and what didn’t it?The Italia Conti Acting course was still fairly new when I trained – I don’t think even ten years. As with all acting programmes, they mould and evolve as the industry does (or I believe they should do!). I trained under a Meisner banner which, looking back, wasn’t the best training for me. I’ve since retrained with the techniques of Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, Boal and more and this suits me better. I also now have a better understanding of Meisner – it just wasn’t for me whilst training. What I did learn during training was ‘playing the game’. This sounds manipulative and sinister but it’s not. Acting, particularly now, is not just about delivering a good performance. You’re a business and a brand. Everything you do and everyone you meet in the industry has to put that brand in a good light. Professionalism is something that’s often overlooked but my training stamped that into me and it’s still there now. I see it lacking a lot in students today and it’s a shame. If we were’t there on time, we were locked out, If we were locked out more than three times we were kicked out for good. No questions. I appreciate this now.
Since then you have accomplished many things and one is the fantastic MAP Platform, it’s a service for actors offering classes and things like showreels, what do you think is unique about MAP?MAP was set up because all around me, actors were being asked to pay extortionate amounts for services that are absolutely essential to them getting a job. Showreels, headshot, training, workshops etc. Actors need these things no matter where they are in their training and, of course there are some incredible photographers and film makers out there, but the fact is, actors cannot always afford £200/£300 – it’s in the nature of the work. However, actors can’t get more work without having these essential items in their ‘brand’ – a vicious circle that I felt was exploiting actors and cashing in on the drive, motivation and passion that we all have. MAP offers classes in TV, Scene Study, Improv, Writing and more, and all the classes are kept low in price and low in numbers, to enable maximum contact hours and better learning; 2 mins in front of a camera over a 3 hour class won’t achieve anything so we work in this way to allow actors the time they need to progress and grow. Our headshots are affordable and our showreels are the cheapest in the country .. we believe. Professional services at affordable prices… that’s what makes us unique.
You are also a director to add another string to your bow (you’re a busy man) What do you enjoy about the process of directing ?As i’ve got older and spent more time working with actors as opposed to acting, i’ve really grown to like directing more. At first it was a bloody lonely place and I hated that the book stopped with me. Now, I try to direct not by stamping my ideas of ‘what I think it should be like’ on the piece, but by being part of a collaborative team, working with the actors and their ideas. I’m also a very ‘tricksy’ director – I love lights, sound and immersive experiences – but all the time keeping it truthful. It’s great.
What do you like about theatre and film as their different mediums? (as you do both)I’m currently writing this interview on set of an American doc-drama playing a moustachioed psychopath, and I go into rehearsals for a great new show on Monday. I think I probably prefer TV as I love the subtlety of it, but, in smaller spaces this subtlety still exists. In the bigger spaces, you can’t quite get away with the nuance but there’s nothing quite like performing to 1000 people – that’s why we sign up… I think?!53Two is a new Theatre you have set up, what is your ethos and drive behind this new company?53two was set up to provide a much needed bridge between the smaller fringe theatres in Manchester and the big guys; Royal Exchange/HOME etc. All these theatres are amazing but it’s difficult for actors, writers and directors alike to sometimes jump from the smaller venues to the bigger ones. We hope with 53two, we can help this. Also, we will, wherever possible, pay our actors and staff – its a difficult industry and everyone expects something for free nowadays – we’d like to try and change this. Also, as well as just supporting actors, the space is large enough and versatile enough to house shows, exhibitions, parties, rehearsals and more. We want it to be an ‘arts hub’, not just a theatre.
What advise would you give to your younger self?This is such a difficult question to answer – Obviously I have money worries and I’d love to have saved some, but actually, sod it. I’ve had some quality experiences and they’re invaluable. I guess I’d say not to get completely consumed by your job. You’ve got to enjoy it and to do that, you have to step away from it…but I think that’s just advice for me now, not for a younger me!
What advise would you give to new actors today?Work harder than you think you can possibly do. If you can keep kicking, you should hopefully reach the surface and find a bit of light in what can be a suffocating industry. Even if you don’t find that tiny break, at least you can make an informed decision if you decide that acting isn’t for you. Make your own work, get off your arse and do something. I see so many young, talented actors a) failing to ‘play the game’ and shooting themselves in the foot, or sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring and falling into an all encompassing hole. You can’t sit still in this job – there’s always someone…no, 200 people behind you, willing to work for less, longer hours, quicker. Don’t let them.
What would you say to actors who can’t afford to put themselves through Drama school training, what advise would you give them?BA Training is actually in danger of becoming a thing of the past. There will always be university courses etc but if you’re talking about what was once Drama UK credited courses, then they’re becoming fewer and fewer. Courses are choosing to opt out of it and become a conservatoire training – it has it’s positive and it’s negatives. I think my advice to anyone training anywhere however, whether it be one night a week or five days a week, is make sure you being pushed. Too many courses are letting people settle into cruise control, not challenging them or moving them or developing them as actors, and the students are then accepting that this is enough. If you get comfortable, change class or change what you do in it.At Actor Awareness we really champion new writing and actors enquiring skills to make their own work, what qualities do you think sets a dedicated actor apart from the crowd?Someone who’s willing to fail. Everyone sits in their bedroom with great ideas about scripts or developing pieces of work. Those that are prepared to put their necks on the line, money where their mouth is, work in the spotlight will not only learn how to improve it, but will get noticed. It’s great to be a lucky actor, but if you are out there doing stuff, you might just notice that you get luckier that sitting at home. There’s a great big bloody reason for that!
Also as you make showreels, what do you think makes a good showreel? Our readers would love to know this.A good showreel is short enough to be interesting and long enough to grab the attention – 2 minutes 30 seconds, I think, is spot on. Also, showreels aren’t always about screaming and shouting about death etc. Many casting directors just want to see two people talking. Bigger is not always better! If you haven’t got the footage from professional jobs, find a company that doesn’t charge hundreds of pounds, check their work and make sure it’s professional, and then choose scenes to fit your casting! No dragons, no aliens or post-apocalyptic world stuff – two people, talking, is often what casting directors want to see. You can find variance within that! An unprofessional showreel is just as useful as having no showreel! Don’t shoot it yourself on an iPhone and make sure the sound is good!!! No monologues! This is my personal opinion but it doesn’t show a person ‘acting’ – acting is also listening!
Review of Harrogate by Emelia Marshall Lovsey
Harrogate, a play which premiered at the High Tide Festival in 2015 that has been revived by the Royal Court before it goes on tour, is another champion play by the brilliant Al Smith. Harrogate follows the story of three women and a jobless father who misses the past and is desperate to control his daughter. Throughout the play he struggles to control and suppress his dark sexual desire which would ultimately destroy his family. The play opens with an overly concerned father questioning his daughter about the clothes she wears, make up and even her love life- whilst pouring her a Bailey’s. Or is something else happening here… The subtext of the scene seems sinister from the offset yet it is so subtle it could easily be missed. To say more about the plot would spoil the many twists and turns of this masterfully written and crafted piece of theatre.
The stage is a clean, pristine white and scarce which serves to illuminate how ‘dark’ what is happening on stage really is. The lighting and sound choices add another element of sinister to the audience’s already troubling sense of unease, something is not right here. Richard Twyman directs this piece beautifully, keeping a fast pace throughout and constant sense of imminent fear. The show is unwatchable in moments and completely compelling at the same time. For one woman in the audience it was all too much and she left crying. Yet that’s the genius of the piece, nothing really needs to happen for it to be shocking and disturbing- one father, trying, with various degrees of success to suppress his thoughts and at the same time ‘indulge’ them without going there, is enough to send shivers down your spine.
This play is performed excellently by Nigel Lindsay playing Him and Sarah Ridgeway playing Her, Her being three different women. The subtle differences in Him when he interacts with each woman is fascinating. The subtle nuances of Ridgeway’s performance for each character are equally as intriguing. So are the unsettling similarities between the characters; particularly the mother and daughter, whose generational mirroring along with the use of reverb seems to imply perhaps that a person’s child echoes their sexual partner. The outstanding performance given from Ridgeway forces the audience to ask uncomfortable questions about how different each of these women really are and with that it explores male sexuality. In particular their possible tendency towards younger women. Her performance is nothing short of extraordinary.
The dirtied relationships Him has with Her, the teasing uncertainty that this play is fuelled by and the unspeakable thoughts that eek out in the final scene where the anti is upped- makes for exceptional theatre. From scene to scene this show gets more and more compelling. Al Smith’s writing with sharp wit, clever dialogue and a dark, disturbing tale, paired with incredible performances, slick and masterful direction from Richard Twyman- makes this production one of the must see shows of the year. Harrogate is reminiscent of The Nether without a virtual world; which begged questions such as where is the line and what does it mean to cross it? Like The Nether, Harrogate’s a brave piece of writing which asks difficult questions and explores a hard hitting topic. It is also more than that, it beautifully explores how people, things and relationships change over time. A harrowing show that will leave you with an uneasy queasiness in your stomach, a real must see that is by no means easy to watch.
Harrogate plays at The Royal Court until the 29th of October before going on tour.
So Will you are an actor, what was your journey into this field?
I’ve always had the instinct to perform and engage audiences. My earliest memory is wearing a James Bond tux (as a five year old) and exclaiming to my parents dinners guests “Shaken not stirred”. This instinct became my passion which then grew as I got older and led to starting a career.
What excited you about theatre?
There are many things. But from a performance/creative angle for me it’s quite simply a form of expression. You get to exercise your creative muscles within an ensemble process, it’s cathartic.
What has made you make the transition from actor to writer and producer?!!
I wouldn’t call myself a producer, but learning how to produce has helped me to develop platforms where I can further exercise my artistic craft. And writing/acting to me are so interconnected. As an actor you’re expected to breakdown/analyse texts, and particularly with new writing you’re an integral part of the writing process. So writing can most definitely help you as an actor and vice versa.
You started Flux theatre, what is your company ethos?
Flux are dedicated to bringing socially engaging theatre to new audiences. Through theatre, we aim to aspire change, thought provocation and compel people. Each project, an opportunity to learn and deepen our perspective. First and foremost Flux are a company that believes in the practice of collaboration and utilising the imaginations of all involved.
Dinosaur dreams your last play that you write and produced got some fantastic reviews, how did this idea come about?
It started out as a third year devising module, during my training. The original concept involved the same characters but had a different tone/narrative and was called ‘By Reason of Normality’. When Flux was formed it was decided that given the mental health and medical elements of the script we needed to ground the play with research.
Talking with mental health advocates and psychologists it became clear: to broaden the perspective of the audience, we had to broaden our own first. The more we learnt, the more important the project felt. Speaking and connecting with real people, actual experiences, made us feel like we had a responsibility to tell the story truthfully.
Flux partnered up with a charity in the process, The Aurora Foundation, who supported the development of the play. After going on this journey it felt right to rewrite the entire play, infusing everything we’d learnt into the script. The new play became, ‘Dinosaur Dreams’.
As AD of Flux theatre, what is your biggest challenge to date?
I’d say keeping the ball rolling after completing a project. It’s very easy to sit back after a long but rewarding process. But figuring out your next move is crucial to the development of your company. I wanted to start a new project straight away and build on what we’d achieved with ‘Dinosaur Dreams’. However, picking the right project with a sense of urgency is always a risk. This is how our Emerge Event started.
What advise would you give to new companies/people setting up?
Using a project to formulate your team is a great starting point. It means you can delve straight in and get working on something. If you all believe in the project as well then you’ve got a team of people all working towards a common objective. There is nothing more efficient in a working process then a collective of people all working in unison. So understanding this and surrounding yourself with others who do and share the same commitment/ambition as you, will enhance the creative process.
Emerge is a new night championing new writing? Explain your night to readers
Emerge is quite simply a night of immediate response for work in progress. There will be four pieces of new writing, directed by four emerging directors and performed by a company of actors. The audience and our industry panel will then be invited to offer their feedback. There will also be an opportunity for the artists to ask questions/discuss ideas in the Actors Centre bar after the show.
What do you feel is an important asset for any actor today?
Before I would have said pro activeness but I now realise pro activeness is useless if what you’re doing is ineffective. So intelligence for me is vital. Being aware of what you’re doing and whether this is stunting or progressing your career is key. Just as being able to learn from your mistakes is. Quality not quantity is something I strive to live by. For example, taking the time to word your emails appropriately is a small detail that can make you seem that much more professional.
Emerge is a new platform that gives four emerging writers, directors and a company of actors the opportunity to collaborate/showcase their work and gain feedback from an industry panel.
After all the pieces have been performed, there will be a short interval, followed by a feedback session. Artists will get the chance to ask questions and receive feedback from a panel of experienced producers and directors, with the opportunity for the artists to meet post-show to discuss their work further.
Emerge is curated by Flux Theatre in collaboration with Matthew Keeler (Producer of Tristan Bates Theatre and Producer/Curator St James RE:act). Flux is an emerging company dedicated to bringing socially engaging, new writing to theatre audiences. Flux Theatre was founded in 2015 by actor-writer Will Adolphy.
Flux aims for Emerge to become an event where artists can explore, play and collaborate within a professional capacity. We want Emerge to open doors for artists whilst creating opportunities for the work to be further developed.
My business partner and pal Gavin found the space through Only Connect (which is a Creative Criminal Justice charity), fell in love with it but didn’t quite no how to fill it, and that’s when I came on board. With the idea to make it an accessible platform for a whole host of creative disciplines, get stuck into and get their work off the ground
You write, when did you realise you loved writing and wanted to write plays ?
At the risk of sounding a little bit wishy washy, I’ve always written, since I physically could, my Mum has journals of mine in her place since I was 5 or 6. I always love writing and acting so the natural thing to do was to write things I could act in. I wrote, with a group of mates, a play for Edinburgh when I was about 15, and just kept trucking from there.
What do you love about new writing ?
Precisely that, that it’s new. Theatre, especially needs to reflect the times, reflect society, the broken bits, the wonderful bits, the unseen, unheard important bits. At the moment, audiences are largely made up of the middle-aged middle class, I’d love to see more of a balance. The audience is reflective of what, proportionally, is on. I love a bit of Chekhov, an evening of Shakespeare is a wonderful thing. I think that it is incredible that writing can transcend generations and still be attributed to the individual. BUT new writing can do it differently, new writing is what has a chance to do it afresh, to tap the now with now and make it intriguing and exciting.
What excites you about theatre especially ?
The live-ness of it. The jeopardy of it happening right before your eyes. The experience of it being touchable, smell-able and even believable even though all the seams and holes are visible. I think it’s the best thing in the world; that you can make a whole room of people believe, go on the adventure of a story, have their heart drop, their goose pimples raised and their shoulders shake with laughter by something that never pretends to be real but that is right there in front of them and belongs to them.
Did you grow up in a art sensitive family and surroundings? How do you feel arts is important in schools, bearing in the mind the cuts made by the government..
Oh blimey, there’s plenty. I’m going to make it the best possible place to find new writers. There will be an educational strand coming to, where we’ll do creative workshops … script writing, acting, spoken word, comedy etc … so that other people can get something from the brain mush outlet they can be, or just because they enjoy it. These will work on a pay what you can basis. So if you can afford to you pay full whack for the course, but this, in turn, will mean that it is open for free to anyone less privileged.
If someone wants to bring a show to Slam, tell our readers the awesome deal you provide ! The first part of the deal is … it has to be good, and the creators have to be ready and raring to graft. Freeloaders not included. Then … we offer the performance space including 8 hours free rehearsal, our tech on the night of the performance for no upfront charge and just 50% of the box office. Within that, I’ll be there to help with anything … rewrites, reading, casting, marketing, admin stuffs, bits of producing, whatever, if needed. Only if you’re not scrimping, and working at it too: team work makes the dream work.