Arrows and Traps

arrows-and-t

Here I talk to the talented Ross McGregor, Offie nominated director of Arrows and Traps Theatre Company. He is directing his 10th show Crime and Punishment, Jack Broc Theatre Feb 7th to Feb 25th.

What excited you about the medium of theatre?

I’ve liked theatre from when I was a child. There’s something vital and exciting about it happening live in front of you. As an audience member I always loved feeling part of something ephemeral. It feels so much more collaborative and generous than other mediums, and there’s a connection between the audience and the actor that you don’t get in a cinema.

Arrows and Traps have gained a great reputation for it’s alternative and exciting take on Shakespeare. How did the company com about?

I decided to create Arrows & Traps because first and foremost I wanted to produce work. Actors have a hard time getting cast in things – but spare a thought for the directors. In any show in the West End right now, how many actors on average are in each one? 10-20? Plus understudies and swings? 20-30? Then how many directors are there in that show? Just the one. Plus an assistant, who doesn’t really get to direct. And a resident, who definitely doesn’t. Directing jobs are very scarce on the ground unless you create the opportunities yourself, and A&T was born out of that. I also wanted to build a repertory company of actors that worked across different projects with me, as I thought that sounded rare, exciting and challenging.

Did you always want to direct?

No, not initially. I was taken with being a writer. Fiction mainly, as that’s what I trained in. I picked up the directing bug as a student at Warwick University, actually as a late night dare taken to absurd lengths – and I just ran with it from there. That’s not to say I’m done with writing, in fact I think they’re two very similar disciplines – they’re both about telling stories as clearly and coherently as you can.

What do you find exciting about being a director?

I found the collaborative elements of directing theatre so exciting, watching each play develop and take shape. It’s not really a director’s medium in the way that film is. Theatre is about actors. You can help them most at the beginning, but after press night, your little Hedda Gablers and Hamlets are off out the nest, and all you can do is sit in the back row like a proud mother hen. The play will continue to tighten, hone and polish itself but it no longer needs the director to do that. That’s the most exciting thing about being a director – helping a potential group of strangers become a coherent, slick ensemble that understands the production inside out and together sculpt it into something exciting to watch.

To aspiring theatre directors, what advice would you give with some experience under your belt?

I think the best training for a director is to just get out there and direct. You can read all the books you like, but the best way to learn is to do it and fail, learn, get up and fail better. Grab every opportunity, and if there aren’t any open to you, then make your own. If you have an idea for a show then reach out to a venue. Make an introduction. Join some facebook groups to meet like-minded people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have passion to tell a particular story, then don’t let circumstances, limitations or other people hold you back. And once you’re in the rehearsal room, my only piece of albeit cliched advice is to trust your gut. If a brilliant idea of yours isn’t working, cut it. If you’re cringing, change it. If something’s not right, say something, even if you don’t have the answer – work it through. Don’t leave something unsaid because it’s awkward. The audience will see through bullshit instantly, so it’s important you are brave enough to do the same.

You have worked on alot of the fab Shakespeare productions Arrows and Traps has produced. What do you find exciting about Shakespeare? What approach do you take when looking at the texts to bring them alive?

I’ve directed all nine of Arrows & Traps theatre productions so far, and am about to start the tenth. Seven of those have been Shakespeare. When you helm a company that gets a reputation for doing Shakespeare, the assumption is that you’re a Shakespeare expert and a complete bard fanboy. But this is a little known fact about me: I don’t like Shakespeare. I find it too difficult, dry and obtuse. I hated it at school and just didn’t understand why the government were fixated with making our children study such boring literature, that’s not even in English half the time. I’ve been a director for about decade, on and off, and when I returned to theatre, when asking myself what it was I wanted to direct, I gave myself three criteria: “does it stand out from what other people are doing?”, “is it a challenge for me personally?”, and “does it sound exciting to an audience?” Shakespeare was always going to be the greatest challenge for me, because I disliked it for so long. I not only had to work out what was being said, but also how to approach it so it was interesting for an audience. I think that’s why a concept is so important to my Shakespeare work. I focus on something that I feel has not been brought out by other productions, and cultivate what I feel is a modern way of approaching Shakespeare. I have learned to love the plays we’ve done, and there are others that I would like to cover in the future. It’s always been a struggle for me, but I think that’s actually our greatest strength because I’m the first one the production has to impress. I’m no fan boy, I don’t shiver with rapture when Hamlet picks up a skull, in fact I’m the first one to yawn. So Arrows & Traps works to open these texts up for the non-shakespeare fan, for the ambivalent, for the discerning mainstream modern audience.

In rehearsals how do you like to get the most out of your actors, what do you feel makes a great working environment for a cast?

I think there’s a real danger for a director to get too enamoured by the sound of their own voice. There is power, and with that there is a danger of treating everyone like puppets. I never wanted to be that kind of director. Every director has to learn to step back a bit and trust in the people around them. They should never be domineering or close-minded in the rehearsal room. It’s an actor’s safe place. The cast should feel happy and comfortable there. It’s how they do their best work, how they give you their greatest and craziest ideas. Don’t try to control that. Support, never judge, and never scorn. Director dictatorships produce boring theatre as it’s just one voice talking. The best theatre is a chorus of voices, all lending their unique colour, pitch and timbre. More voices, more ideas, more influences, better theatre.

Crime and punishment is another epic you are taking on, how have you tackled the play to bring it up to date and put the usual Arrows and Trap spin on it?

Crime & Punishment is most of the most iconic Russian novels in history. It’s an sprawling multi-character epic. And as it’s the centenary of the Russian Revolution, it seemed timely to return to a Russian text this year, after our Anna Karenina last Spring. The adaptation we’re staging next month at the Jack Studio is a 90 minute 3-hander, so there’s been some judicious cutting involved. It’s unusual, I think, for a crime thriller to tell a story from the murderer’s perspective and that was interesting for me. With so many novel adaptations they seek to cram the entire book into an evening, and that never seems to quite work, throwing your audiences through various scenes at breakneck pace in an attempt to remain faithful to the source. This adaptation doesn’t do that. It seeks to create something theatrical and new from the story. It’s beautiful and moving, and a real test for the actors as its basically one long scene. I’m not sure what the Arrows spin is exactly, but yes, there will be dream sequences, lots of music and set pieces, and we’ll be showing an old story in a new way.

You do open castings, what do you suggest to actors interested in auditioning for your next show? What do you like to see an actor bring to an audition room?

First and foremost they have to be excited about the project and come with ideas about how they’d approach their characters. A degree of research into either the novel or play text is always impressive, but really we’re interested in you as a person and what you’d bring to the role. There’s an emphasis on ensemble in the company, and we like actors who are ready to muck in and get involved with the heavy lifting. We try to make the audition process as stress-free as possible, and want applicants to not be unnerved by the reading. It doesn’t matter to us if you don’t know it off by heart, or make a few slips or start again, if you can bring the text to life, that’s all that matters.

What is your favourite piece of theatre last year?

As a working director, it’s hard to get time to see anything that’s not your own work, but I adored In The Heights at King’s Cross this year, as well as Better Together – a new play at the Jack Studio Theatre.

What is the plans for 2017?

We’ve got Crime & Punishment opening at the Jack Studio Theatre next month, running February 7th – 25th, and after that we’ll be producing a new version of Frankenstein. We’re also planning to stage Death & The Maiden, which is a blistering thriller, before rounding the year off with some Shakespeare, of course. So lots to get excited about.

Book your tickets now, I AM!!! 

http://www.brockleyjack.co.uk/portfolio/crime-and-punishment/

Advertisements

Mary Doherty

mary

Mary is a actor and tutor and all round Good EGG, as a student of hers at ‘The Actors Class’ I wanted to pick her brains for you, because I believe she’s great and sharing is caring. She has also snagged a role in National Theatre’s Twelfth Night this year!!!

Did you always want to act, how did you get into acting?

I started dancing at the age of 3 and by 5 I’m told I wanted to be a performer! So it started pretty young! My mother has a great love for the theatre and so we were often seeing productions. My brother James is also an Actor, so I grew up watching him and being surrounded by Acting. I then went to the Arts Educational School in Tring, which is a Performing Arts School, from the age of 11, so I started my training very early. Tring is an incredible school and it was from there that I went straight to drama school.

What makes theatre an exciting medium for you?

Theatre is where my passion is, I love storytelling and watching stories unfold in front of me, I love being taken on a journey looking at the world through other peoples eyes and being totally consumed in that particular world for a couple of hours. Anything’s possible in that space and that’s magic.

You have had some great roles working at the Globe and RSC and working under directors like Trevor Nunn. What is your most challenging and exciting role to date?

I played Queen Margaret in the Henry VI Trilogy for the Globe, we toured the show around the UK, to battlefields and also played at the Globe itself. Sometimes we would perform all 3 plays in 1 day; 7 hours of Shakespeare was most definitely challenging! It was amazing to see the audience who came to watch the whole trilogy in one day, they really went on the journey with us. Our Director Nick Bagnall was fantastic and really helped us to find the darkness and power within these plays. The role and whole production and cast were incredible and I feel very honoured to have played her.

What do you think are integral qualities for an actor today?

I think Professionalism is key to being an Actor today. Which is why regular training is really important as it instills that practice in you. It’s not just enough to love Acting and be talented. You need to be a great, open Company Member, who has the skills and professionalism required to be in that room.

You now train and teach actors through ‘The Actors Class’ What made you decide to set up these classes?

I set up The Actors Class 4 years ago because I was working with lots of fantastic young Actors who were moving to London, some getting into Drama School, but some not getting in, or not being able to afford to go and with a very limited Cv because they were just starting out, there weren’t many places where they could go for good regular training and classes. I wanted to create a safe and supportive environment where these young Actors could develop their craft, whilst starting to work with top Industry Professionals.

Tell us what’s different about ‘The Actors Class’

The Actors Class is a real family, I meet and work with all the students, so I get to know our Actors very well, which means they have someone overseeing their progress, mentoring them, who can Cast them, help them with Headshots, Agents, Showreels etc. As a Company we make sure we talk about running themselves as a business, as well as training them as Actors, as I believe the two really go hand in hand. We run Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced Courses, once they have completed the Advanced they then go into our Alumni and are given the opportunity to audition for our Industry Course with West End Showcase. Also the Alumni are offered 1 day workshops with top guest Industry tutors. So they feel part of a Company. I believe having a network of people creates it’s own opportunities and is incredibly important.

What would you suggest to people auditioning at drama school now when they go into the audition room?

Actors always get told to just ‘be yourself’, which can feel completely impossible when the nerves take hold. What that phrase means to me, is don’t try to tick all the boxes for the panel, if everyone was the same it would be incredibly boring! Be honest about why you want to be an Actor in your interview, pick the speeches that you connect with in your gut, not the ones you think you should be doing. When they say before your speech ‘in your own time’ it really does mean that! Take a beat, breathe, focus on who that character is talking to and what your character wants. There is no time to warm up into the speech in that room, so, be bold and go for it!

What do you enjoy about teaching?

To be honest, pretty much everything. I absolutely love teaching and I feel very, very lucky to be teaching such an inspiring and passionate group of people. My favourite thing is probably seeing the journey that these Actors go on with us, some weeks are harder than others – as they should be, training shouldn’t be easy! Then each student will have a breakthrough at some point of something that we’ve been working on and that’s why regular training, however and wherever you do it is so important, because it gives the Actor time to develop and learn their habits and time to understand text and techniques so that they have the tools to become a professional actor.

As drama school fees raise and entry becomes unfeasible to allot of people, how do you suggest an actor to keep active?

There are lots of good workshops around, with us, with The Actors Centre, The Actors Guild to name just a few. The most important thing is the word you’ve just used ‘Active’ and that can be achieved for free – Pick up a play, read it out loud, practice your sight reading, get a group of friends together, go to someones house or a park, get on your feet and just keep playing. Actors are like athletes and if we stop training, learning and practicing the muscle will weaken. Acting can be created anywhere, you just have to get up and play!

Could you tell our readers you’re favourite play and why?

I would say ‘Bull’ by Mike Bartlett is my favourite play at the moment. I love his writing, the rhythms, the dialogue, the characters. Bull is like a status masterclass and the play is powerful. Brilliant.

Mary runs “The Actors Class’ website for more info is right here, as I’m kind like that http://www.theactorsclass.co.uk

Andrew Maddock

heart

Andrew is an actor and writer, his new play He(art) is running at N16, with 4 star reviews! I catch up with him here to discuss his roots and his work!

Growing up did you aspire to work in the theatre?

No. Theatre wasn’t really an option for me growing up, my access was limited, I was always interested in acting, but it was always discouraged in favour of getting a ‘real paying job’ which I think isn’t just limited to someone from my background, i just think that it’s obviously a tough industry to be in and the people around you just want what they perceive as the best for you. I still think about the rare trip we made to see Rufus Sewell play Macbeth and moving from the back of the stalls to an empty seat at the front by the end. I didn’t understand a word at the time, but I knew I was watching something really special. It’s a shame really that my enthusiasm wasn’t picked up on at the time as English and Music were probably the only things at school i paid any attention to, but no point dwelling on it, I found my way here in the end!

So Andrew, how long have you been writing and how did you come to end
up doing so?

I spent a majority of my early adult life mucking about to be honest, floating about, doing what you think the world expects of you, but it wasn’t the path my life should have been going down and I was simply wasting away in an office somewhere, living for the weekend. Then I got made redundant and I discovered an acting course with the National Youth Theatre called Playing Up which was designed to help people not in education, work or training and get them an access to higher education qualification. I had no degree, and barely any decent GCSE’s besides English and Music (See above). The whole course taught me so much and gave me so many skills and the confidence to realise things about myself that I never even understood existed, it also helped me realise all my passions, which includes facilitating, giving back the same way the tutors who gave me their time did. It’s funny because even today I’m realising stuff they taught me five years later that I simply shrugged off in immaturity at the time, and knowing that it’s about that time for some of the young people I’ve been lucky enough to work with having the same lightbulb moments all those years later!

A tutor on that course named Cathy Owen who is an amazing person read some of my writing and encouraged me to keep at it, so I did, I challenged myself to write a ten minute play and gave myself a year to get it on a short play night, and that happened and then I set another little goal and eventually got there and thats what I continue to do, set myelf little personal goals and work hard to make them happen.

What excites you about theatre?

The fact that there’s still a whole heap of stories that need to be told from the perspective of individuals from all walks of life. The challenge of getting a bum on a seat. The challenge of making theatre special for everyone. The ability to make someone feel something if you write something they can connect with. The communities that can be formed, the people I meet, the pub theatres where I’ve had some of the best times of my life. The enormous level of talent available.

What is your process to writing that first draft of a new idea?

Just write. When I get an idea I start, and I don’t stop until the taps dry. Then I put it down for a few days, I print it on a sneaky one at someones gaff (shhhh), and I sit on the tube with a big pen and I absolutely tear it apart. That’s where the real first draft begins.

You have written several plays that have won some Offie’s. What would you say is your biggest achievement so far?

I’ve had two plays nominated for Offies which was a great honour, the list 2016’s IN/OUT (A FEELING) is on was unbelievable. Theres obviously no chance in hell of me making that shortlist, but it was lovely to know that it resonated with people.

My biggest achievement I feel, well there’s two. Selfishly, it was self-producing my The Me Plays in 2014 at The Old Red Lion and acting in them. I asked for no kickstarted money, no public funding. I worked three jobs to pay for it and I got a proper crew involved including my directors Ryan Bradley and Anoushka Bonwick to be able to call me on all my BS. That three-week run was my acting school and I’m forever indebted to Stewart Pringle than AD (And now at the Bush, being a legend) for taking a chance on me, even though he knew I wasn’t a big gun with a massive wad of cash. It was his first season as well. I’ll never forget it.

My more personal achievement has been the work I’ve done with a company called Generation Arts (http:www.generationarts.org.uk) it’s run by an amazing practitioner called Ali Godfrey. And the Future Stage project she developed and allowed me to tutor on has changed the lives of so many and it’s CRIMINAL that the funding for their work is not as forthcoming as other bigger organisations, and that’s not a knock on them, but I feel funders look for a brand name, but if they looked a little harder, there are people out there doing work just as good that need the money a little bit more. I feel terrible singling a couple of people out because there have been so many amazingly talented young people I’ve had the pleasure of seeing grow but I truly believe these names, Ace Ruele, Unique Spencer, Joeseph Junior Arthur, Florian Rafuna, Chay February and Helder Rodrigues Fernandez will be absolutely massive. IF they are given the opportunities to shine. Ace bless him is now working heavily in motion capture and did Tarzan recently which i was dead proud to watch him in avatar form on the silver screen. Junior has just graduated from ALRA and he’s going to make it. I can feel it in my bones. Unique, Florian, Chay and Helder are currently still in training and I really know they’ve got it inside themselves to do big things.

How do you keep motivated?

Seeing people do well. Everybody has made some form of sacrifice, in my opinion, nobody is handed anything in this world, you graft, even if the perception is they just got it for nothing. So when I see someone do well, I know they’ve worked hard. And I want that same level of success. So I try to step up my game.

At Actor awareness we are all about being proactive and helping people
to get their work done and not sit around and wait, what advise do you
give to other writers/actors, theatre professionals?

Just that. Work hard. Get it done. Find a way. It’s easy to say if you’ve got no money, but honestly. My first play started out as me booking the Etcetera Theatre for 150 quid for one night, hoping I’d sell a few tickets so i didn’t completely lose my arse, I was working for Generation Arts at the time who treated me fantastically, but I was working term times only and was moonlighting at a pub to stay afloat. I had the theme and an idea of a beginning, a middle and an end. I invited my mates, I spent 3 months in a room with the director and Junkie was born, I performed it, I got a laugh and some murmurs, I got pissed, I waited a day and I called the people I trusted the most and got them to break it down for me, I asked them to hold nothing back and I took it on board and I wrote another monologue called ‘Hi life, I win’ and it became The Me Plays.

I knew nothing about putting on the play, but I found a way, I met people who had, and I asked them for a coffee and I picked their brains, I got good, honest people involved, who weren’t my mates who weren’t just going to tell me something was great. i took my large ego out of the room and instead of waiting for the phone to ring, I played three parts, Writer, Actor and Producer and I played them all completely separately.

Also, NEVER FEAR THE REJECTION. This next play HE(ART) started as a ten-minute Theatre503 Rapid Response Play which was turned down, so I turned it into a 30 min play, had that produced at a few venues before eventually Lincoln Centre of Performing Arts kindly did some development on it with me and gave it a run at the Paines Plough Roundabout when it was in town which I very much appreciated. Theres so many factors that get things to where they are and so many reasons why things are turned down, so if you have a belief in something then don’t stop.

I call self-producing the most expensive business card you’ll ever make. So make sure you make it good. Get people on board who are going to help you make your art better, not just tell you it’s great. (Though that is nice)

Your new play heart is being produced under Lonesome boy who you
worked with before? How has this process been?

Amazing, Niall is a genius. I met him during my run of The Me Plays, which shows you how glad I am to taken the risk. He terrifies me, he respects the writer, but also wants the freedom to do whatever the hell he wants in the space, which I prefer, if I’m not in the play, i don’t want to be at rehearsal. I’ve written a blueprint and now it’s time for the company to make the chair, though I do like to know if they decide to put in an extra screw!

We watch a lot of plays together and our taste in theatre is usually completely polar opposite, but one thing we will agree on is good acting, and I feel the cast we’ve got for our play is bloody incredible. He just has this way with actors as well to make them feel at ease and not take the process too seriously, his company is built on ‘you can’t fail’ and positivity and i’m all for it. I can be a negative Nigel sometimes so he does brighten up my day. Plus he’s a Vegan which I can never do so that makes him a massive lad.

Tell us about your upcoming play?

HE(ART) is story of two couples. A boyfriend and girlfriend from two different walks of life dealing with a health situation and a brother and sister who are planning on robbing an art gallery in order to sell an expensive painting to pay for experimental treatment for their sick mother. It’s about class and the things we do for the people we love. It was inspired by a real story I saw where the NHS had turned down a treatment for a pair of brothers mother as it was deemed too expensive, so they robbed a bank in order to attempt to pay for the treatment privately. Niall was drawn to these characters and the fact that one of them has been written with EBD in mind. Emotional Behaviour Disorder is something we’ve both seen in the young people we’ve worked with in our careers and I’m really excited to see what the actors do with the text.

The play has been continually developed, in the final draft I made the decision to turn the two brothers into a brother and a sister as I’ve really been educated over the last few years to the lack of roles for women in Theatre, my last two plays have been completely gender balanced in cast and crew and I didn’t want this to be the exception. I know I wrote the thing, but Flora who plays Sam I already know from the reading is going to make this a better play. The gender swap has shifted the dynamic of the piece completely. I’m giddy.

What is your goal for 2017?

Get a short film made. The script is there, I’m just a rebel without a crew. But touch wood.

Instinct Theatre

instinct

lilyfelicity

Lily Driver                                    Felicity Huxley Miners

Instinct are a young theatre company run by strong independent women, what’s not to like!

You have been working on a new play ‘tea and good Intentions’ How did this play come about?
Tea and Good Intentions was actually created because of an Actor Awareness Scratch Night! I saw the call out for the evening happening as part of the Guildford Fringe for submissions on class and wanted to tell a story about someone who transcends class. It was created as a short 15 minute piece but we got some great feedback and the refugee crisis in Syria was on the news every day with more and more destruction happening that it got turned into a full length play.

Tea and Good Intentions is about a Syrian migrant who has been rehoused in England and the middle aged woman who has opened her home to him for all the wrong reasons. Hilarity and heartbreak ensues as this unlikely pair start to mean far more to each other than they intended. In this new world of far right politics and mass hysteria all played out through the media and online Tea is a story of humanity, of two people who desperately need each other and of the coming together of communities. It is a very British look at a crisis which affects us all but at the heart of it it’s a comedy.

What is the plans at current for ‘tea and Good intentions’?

We have been selected to be a part of The King’s Head Theatre’s Without Décor season, which is a development scheme for new writing. We have two matinee slots; Saturday 11th February and Friday 24th February where we stage the show in full with minimal set. We are casting at the moment and will start rehearsals throughout January. We’re so excited to be performing the play in full and will be looking to transfer for a full length run later in the year.

You held a new writing night last year, do you plan to do more in 2017?
Yes, we’re in talks at the moment to set up a regular new writing night. We held a night at The Hen and Chickens Theatre which was originally intended as a one off but after having some wonderful reviews and getting to work with such a big, diverse team we want to keep hosting them! We found it was such a good way to meet other creatives and see what other work is out there, as well as for writers, directors and actors to come together and develop their skills. We’ll put details up on our website and have a big open call out again for actors, directors and writers.

You have been working alongside Adam Morley for a upcoming project in 2017, tell our readers a bit more?
We are collaborating with Adam to create a bizarre, musical, thrilling adaptation of the Greek comedy Lysistrata. Again, this has political overtones; with more of our world leaders than ever are women and the topic of female empowerment is becoming ever more prevalent.

Lysistrata gathers the women of Greece and convinces them to swear an oath that they will withhold sex from their husbands until both sides sign a treaty of peace. Even though it was written over 2,000 years ago, Lysistrata perfectly captures the futility of war, gender inequality and echoes modern day politics with terrifying accuracy.
It has been very important to us and Adam to cast blind throughout the process. Ethnicity is simply not relevant in the play and so we’re really looking forward to working with hard-working, talented people regardless of background or race. We will be staging this in the autumn of 2017 for an initial short London run.

Going into 2017 what do you and everyone at Instinct want to achieve?
We have so many plans! We would love to set up the New Writing Night as a regular event. We have got Tea and Good Intentions to stage for the initial showcase at The King’s Head and then hope to take it elsewhere as well as working on Lysistrata we will be busy enough! We want to keep growing and developing as a company and work with as many inspiring, exciting, talented people as possible as we gain so much with each new person we work with.

We’ll keep updating our website with what we’re up to and would love to hear from some Actor Awareness supporters! We regularly attend the new writing nights and have cast several people from them so please come and say hello and keep up to date via our website: http://www.instinct-theatre.co.uk/  and Twitter: @InstinctTheatre

Tim Cook

tim

When did you first realise you wanted to act?
I was in my early 20’s when I got into the National Youth Theatre. It was something I’d wanted to do for a very long time (being a avid film fan), but I probably lacked the confidence to try it. It’s a strange one, because even though I’d never done any acting previously, I had this belief that I could do it and that I could potentially be good at it. Being part of the NYT gave me a boost and a sense of identity. I just continued from there and tried to learn as much as I could really.
What excites you about theatre?
New writing and new ideas. New writing is my lifeblood. I love writing that reflects how we live now and writing that poses difficult questions to its audience. New ideas are important, especially with classical texts. I don’t believe that every production of Shakespeare in London is fully merited. So I’d say I’m a big fan of originality basically. If theatre doesn’t offer something new, then why should we see it?
You went to a RADA, what do you feel your training equipped you for in the ‘real world’? 
It gave me a methodology and it taught me to take the work I do seriously. That’s important I think. If you want to succeed in the industry then you need to take it seriously. Also as an actor it gave me something to fall back on. I remember before I trained getting frustrated if I couldn’t hit a certain mark as an actor. I feel like I have more control as a performer now. One thing it definitely didn’t prepare me for was the reality of living life as an actor. The world of drama school is a bit of a bubble.
As training becomes unfeasible to a lot of people with raising costs of fees and london living, what advice do you give actors looking for alternate routes?
I certainly don’t view traditional acting training as the be all and end all of everything. There are so many different routes into the industry these days. Try to find people who are doing good work and do whatever it takes to work with them and learn from them. Don’t audition for everything, but look for plays or short films that really give you the chance to showcase your talents. Also it helps to take classes and see lots of theatre. Meet as many people as possible.
What do you think is the most important quality for an actor in todays industry?
Perseverance 
You write also, a man of many trades, how did you come about writing?
I started out writing for film at university, but a lot of my ideas were focused on dialogue, rather than the visual side of things. I realised as a writer I tend to think more rhythmically than visually, which lends itself well to playwrighting. After uni I was living in New York for a time and I started writing something, which could’ve been anything really – it could’ve been a novel, or a film, or a short story – but it ended up becoming a play. And so I turned into a playwright almost overnight, and now it feels like the most natural fit for me. I love people watching and eavesdropping on conversations and that’s reflected in my writing.
Can you tell our readers about your new play ‘Tremors’? 
I’ve been working on Tremors for a long time. I actually wrote the first draft shortly after the student protests in London in 2010. It’s about a rising star of the Labour party, who becomes involved in a scandal in a hotel room. In an attempt to salvage his image he then returns to his seaside hometown to make amends, but he gets caught up in a community dispute. Ultimately, he has to decide whether to save his career or the community he grew up in. Even though so much has changed in politics since 2010, I feel it’s very relevant to what’s going on now. We want and need more from our politicians.
What are your plans for Tremors?
There are big plans for Tremors in 2017, but I can’t reveal anything yet. Watch this space!
You are heading the new literary team at Drayton Arms?What is the plan with the team?
It’s been really exciting so far, being able to form a Literary Department from scratch. I want us to offer something different to other theatres in London. We can’t compete with the larger theatres in terms of offering an unsolicited script service, but what we can offer is a more hands on experience to writers. They’ll have the opportunity to workshop material at the theatre, and we can provide them with a support network of actors, directors and a dramaturg to help them. We’ll also be running a regular scratch night on the theme of Existentialism.
What advice do you give budding writers?
Seek out every possible opportunity to get your writing in front of an audience. Be open to feedback. Keep honing your craft. Don’t give up.
How did your company Broken Silence Theatre come about?
I founded Broken Silence Theatre with a friend around 6 months after graduating from RADA in 2013. It took me a few months to figure out what I wanted to do in the industry. I decided the best way forward for me was to create my own company and only do work I really believed in. It’s been the best and most liberating thing I’ve ever done. In just over 3 years we’ve staged over 10 full productions and each one has grown in terms of quality and scale.
What is your ethos?
We care about new writing. We care about promoting unheard voices. We care about the here and now. It’s that simple.
What is different about Broken Silence Theatre to other companies?
With our work we want to create a sort of ‘Royal Court on a budget’. We have very high standards and we seek out the best scripts we can possibly get our hands on. A lot of the scripts we’ve produced have been developed at larger theatres such as the Royal Court or the Soho or the Tobacco Factory. We want to start from a really strong place and then carry those standards through to production.
You also co-produce Scene Gym at Old Vic New Voices, which is a great way for actors, writers and directors to collaborate. Can you tell our readers about that?
Scene Gym is a great new initiative founded by Julia Taylor. It brings together the best writing, directing and acting talent, and puts everyone together in one room. It’s a really wonderful and hugely collaborative experience. It differs from similar new writing events because every single person in attendance is involved in one of the pieces. I think that really helps the writers receive fair and constructive feedback, because everyone is literally in the same boat. Even though we only launched in August it’s been a great success and I’m looking forward to developing Scene Gym further next year. 
Thank you Tim

Sasha Damjanovski

sasha

So you are a tv and film director. How did you come about following this career path?
I always loved cinema, and I’ve been writing since age 11, but didn’t really think of it all as a career until I started working in TV as a reporter. This is when I realised that I’m much more interested in being behind the camera and putting it all together than standing in front of it, talking.
What excites you about this medium?
Everything! I love the whole process. Pre-production – the team brainstorming, planning, testing stuff, rehearsing with the actors; then love the production itself – finding the perfect shot, seeking moments of truth in performances, the perfect something or other; and then it all begins all over again in post – editing, making the magic really happen by putting seemingly disparate elements together, finding the right music, the right colour grade, the right sound effect, and on and on. It’s a complex, layered all-consuming experience – body, mind and spirit. It’s like a drug.
What excites you about theatre, do you have different techniques for theatre and film when directing? 
Theatre has its own kind of magic. I love the fact that I can rehearse much more. It’s like being locked in a room with all the cool kids and we can just play, experiment, try many different ‘what ifs’, reimagine the text and – when it’s really good – reimagine ourselves, too.
What do you think is important when collaborating with writers and actors?
Communicating. Communicating in an open, encouraging and empowering way. Listening. Trying to truly understanding where they’re coming from – what are their ideas, what are their concerns. With writers specifically, it actually starts with listening, of course, understanding their original vision, the point they started from.
What do you expect from an actor if they come into audition and also in rehearsal time?
Auditions are like a first dance – both partners are discovering whether they can dance together. This is nothing to do with how good they are at dancing, but everything to do with – do we make a good dancing match. So, in auditions, I just want the old cliché – be yourself. It’s the only thing that will ever work. Whether I have a clear idea of the character already, or I am still searching, when the ‘right’ actor comes in, it feels like they’re the only ones who know the correct answer to the hardest question in the quiz. In a way, there’s nothing you can do about it. The second thing I look for, and this is if I’m intrigued by the actor’s energy/persona and sense that they might be right, I want to see responsiveness. If I ask them to do something different and they essentially give me the same thing again, I won’t choose them.
In rehearsals I want trust. I do my utmost to build this trust with the actors, of course, it’s my responsibility too, but ultimately we need to get to a point of trust. And I’m also looking for openness to ideas, playfulness – let’s try if something will work, if it doesn’t we’ll ditch it. Finally, I expect contributions. Just like the heads of various departments will offer their own ideas for the look, feel, sound of the film, the actors need to contribute ideas, too, and again – we’ll try some of them out, if they work, we’ll use them, if they don’t, we’ll at least inspire each other to cmd up with other ideas.
What projects have you in the pipeline?
There are several projects in the air, at the moment. Perhaps, the most likely to go ahead first is a feature film comedy, then a theatre play commission which I am yet to write. Wish me luck, both are really exciting, and totally different from one another.
In the current climate with funding being cut everywhere, when starting a new project how do you tackle this problem ?
Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. There’s no formula and no unseal solution. Keep pushing, knocking on doors, making new friends, searching for new leads and connections. Perseverance is everything.
Fun- What’s your favourite film
Ha! The impossible question. In no particular order – Life of Brian, Groundhog Day, Donny Darko, Apocalypse Now, Persona, Bicycle Thieves, The Big Lebowsky, All That Jazz, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo&Juliet, The Red Shoes, Ex Machina, and on and on and on… This year, Arrival was so exciting!

Albane Linyer

albane

How did you come about to writing?

When I was a kid I was obsessed with reading. I read very fast and some days I would read three books in one afternoon. It was just very natural for me to start writing my own stories. Being a writer was always my plan for the future and I never really questioned it. I started writing stories when I was about 7. I wrote my first play at nine and it was porn. It was original even though a bit disturbing. Apparently I knew very early on that my work would revolve around desire. Then when I was sixteen I met a Tv producer. He asked me what I wanted to do for a living and I say I wanted to write. He just answered “Go for screenwriting then, you’ll make loads of money.”. He lived in an enormous house with an outdoor jacuzzi in Paris, so I told myself “You want to follow this guy’s advice.”. That’s how I ended up here.

You are doing the Saint Martins writing course, what have you got out of this course?
The thing is, when you write as a freelancer you need to have A LOT of self-discipline just to write a text to the end, and I’m not even talking about rewriting. I don’t have that discipline yet, and having deadlines for school or work just makes you do thing that you would postpone forever if it was only for yourself. Without even noticing it I ended up with so many outlines and projects that I can now pitch to professionals, and that’s priceless. Also you get to work with other writers which can be painful or amazing. The course has helped me develop my voice as a writer but also taught me a lot about structure and the industry. So yes I would say you learn the craft and you end-up having a very diversified portfolio.

 What type writing style do you think you have ?

Is writing about women a style? More seriously, I don’t know what style to call it. I try to show different lifestyles to a broad audience and I have mostly women characters. My first feature film is about a sexual fetishism called “pet-play”. This screenplay is a good sum-up of my writing: flawed female characters interrogating a different way to act as a sexual being. I like dark humour, the irony of life coming to bite my characters in the ass. As I am still quite young I expect my writing style to change, but at the moment it is perfectly coherent with who I am and what I want the audience to see.

What are you working on right now?

I am still working on The Puppy (the movie about pet-play), the screenplay will be ready around June. Also I started writing a Tv series about Sugar Daddy websites. We are lucky to have John Yorke teaching us this semester and he is helping me with that project. In addition, I wrote a novel in French and I am currently gathering feedback to take it to its…1000th draft? Until I find it good enough to try to get it published. You have to be really passionate about writing if you want to make a living out of it, because at some point it is getting a LOT of writing, and rewriting.

What advise do you give to new writers

I am a new writer! But I would say one thing: always finish what you start writing. Even if it was to be a feature film and you make it a short film or a tv pilot. You can’t go anywhere without a finished project in your pocket. Y need to have something to give them. Also, if you can film what you write, absolutely do it. It is easier to show to producers, but also to friends and family. No one likes reading scripts apparently. And last – that was a lot of advice from a new writer aha – life is hard enough, so write about what you love.

You just had your writing read out out a rehearsed read, how do you find this process useful?

This was infinitely helpful from the beginning. Without realizing it you have to pitch the story to your actors, and explain them who they are in the script. You can learn a lot about your character just by selling them to someone else. When I go (really excited) “Hey yours is a complete bitch but she’s gorgeous and badass” I know the character belongs to the story, you have to feel that it fits. During the rehearsing process you are constantly getting various reactions on your text. When at a rehearsal an actress says a line and everyone including you can hear that it does not work, it is amazing. The little uneasy feeling that you had reading the scene on your own finally makes sense. Also, listening to the director when he explains to the actors what is happening makes you immediately know if your writing gives off the right idea. If the director doesn’t get it by reading your script, no one will. Then comes the day of the actual show and this is the last and the most important test: the audience. If they don’t laugh or react to your dialogues, it is bad. Might not even be your writing’s fault, but it might be time to ask around what went wrong. So in a nutshell the process is incredibly helpful because you get to see and hear your work and take it to another level.

What is your fav screenplay of all time?

There are so many amazing movies and tv shows that it’s horrible to pick just one. I would probably go for American Beauty. It has everything. Fantasy, intolerance, masturbation, sexual disorientation; multiple stories with a fantastic end.