Arrows and Traps


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!!!


Mary Doherty


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

Andrew Maddock


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 ( 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



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:  and Twitter: @InstinctTheatre

Tim Cook


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?
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


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


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.

Kevin Russell- Director


Kevin you have been a director for many years. How did you come into the craft?
I had been working as an actor for some time and  was in the National Tour of The Mister Men Show (which was  a show based on the Mr. Men and Little Misses Books by Roger Hargreaves, which were turned into a very popular television series in the 1970s/1980s. It was a number 1  national theatre  tour)  I grabbed a book ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ off a bookshelf to read while on tour. I had always been fascinated by Anne Frank I had played the part of Peter Van Dan in the stage  play at The Croydon Youth Theatre. Having read  her Diary again I went back to  the stage script and found myself re-reading it, again and again and again and found  loads of things  I wanted to do with it!!  The  Anne Frank monologues taken directly from her diaries in the original stage  productions were recorded and used as fillers during scene changes.  I became very excited at the thought  of all the recorded sections were performed live to the audience by the actress playing Anne Frank. I kept coming back to the  line: ‘I want to go on living even after my death’ and I  found a piece of music composed by a young child in a concentration camp during World War two called ‘In The Sky’. Brilliantly performed by Maria Friedman on her album – ‘Maria Friedman’  which was all about looking down from heaven: I was very lucky to get the rights to use it to introduce and end the show.   It was a completely mad moment. I was socializing with the cast of The Mister Men show one evening and turned to my friend  Paul and said: “During our summer break from the show, I am going to produce and direct The Diary of Anne Frank stage  play” Paul said “Sounds great. Let me know if I can give you a hand.” (Paul has been helping me ever since) Which sparked the formation of  Company New Dreams Theatre (NDT) I had never directed in my life at that point let alone produce!!!  It was the  maddest  summer of mayhem and chaos   I have ever, had.   Funding a theatre,  designers stage manager, auditions rehearsal space  rehearsing directing etc. The show was performed at The Pavilion Theatre Brighton and was a great success. I was  blessed with the most talented  group of actors. Some  have gone on to really establish themselves in the profession. Joanna Neary; who played Anne Frank,  is now a very established comedian/actress and Catherine Huntley is a regular television presenter on QVC. I was offered after Anne Frank other directing  projects as a freelance director.  Not producing. Which has enabled me to juggle working for other companies work as a director and producing  and directing for my own company New Dreams Theatre  (NDT)
What attracts you to a particular project?
I find the projects attracts themselves to me. I have  been reading plays/scripts since I was 11 years old and have around 4000 plays approximately in my .. . . . what I jokingly call – my library. My school friends were off watching Crystal Palace play football, l  was at home reading plays. Me?  Eccentric child? Never! My parents foolishly took me to see Peter Pan with Lulu and Ron Moody at The London Palladium when I was 6 years old. I knew after that performance I would work in theatre. When considering something to direct  I will read a scrip once/twice. I then re-read it  making notes.  What I like about it.  What I do not
Then leave it for several days. If I find  I start thinking about the play wondering? Questioning aspects of the play. After another read through – and notes –    I normally want to direct it.
However, generally I  like plays  about real people.  Real life. Believable  characters that take you on a journey. However strange or naturalistic.  I do not think life or theatre is black and white. In the theatre world. No such thing as ‘comedy’ or ‘drama’ I  like plays – sounds a cliche – but genuinely make you laugh and cry.
What excites you about theatre ?
Everything!!! Good theatre takes you on a journey. You gradually begin to  feel you know the characters , their problems,  there issues and there not your problems which is even better!! I love being taken on a journey taken  out of my life and transported somewhere else. Sometimes on a very painful journey  sometimes on a painfully  funny journey.
Which is what I try to do for audiences as a director.
When getting a project off the ground, what are your biggest challenges?
I think the number one challenge is making sure you have the right people/team  around you and time. Theatre is only theatre when everyone’s expertise comes together.  The right designer, lighting designer, sound designer, stage manager,  lighting and sound operator  actors writers etc  When you get all these elements right – that is theatre!!
As a producer/director I like to use a combination of professionals I have worked with before and new colleagues that I have actively found. I find this creates a very creative team. If I am producing as well as directing, time is so important. I learned very early on,  the hard way, if producing and directing,   you need to give yourself time. When I produced and directed ‘A Doll’s House’  last year it took 8 months before the actors walked into the rehearsal room..
It took a while to get the rights to direct  the play which was translated by a very prolific playwright. Briony Lavery  finding  the right theatre also took  time. It is  different  if  taken on as a  freelance directing job (not producing) time  is taken out of your hands your given a schedule  which is great but my main  priority  is the same,  I will give my vision of the production as a director but it is very important to get to know your colleagues and there  creative visions too. My number one priority as a director in the rehearsal room from day one is to try and create an atmosphere of relaxed  fun. So the actors can mess about take risks there is no right or wrong. I like to meet the actors before day one of rehearsals socially. Get to know them. Talk about the play.  Get the designer to show the cast the  set design/ costume design. So when  we all walk into the rehearsal room on day one. A lot of the barriers  are broken down. Actors can have fun.
As a director what do you look for in actors when working?
I like actors that are spontaneous that think on their feet. They do not always do the same thing all the time the same way e.g. when I directed Ibsen ‘A Doll’s House’ last year. I gave the note to Paul, the actor who played Helmer, to in act one scene one,  to give Nora her money in a  slightly different way every single  performance. And he did! I remember one night he put a money note on the table opposite side of the stage to Nora. So she had to cross the stage to get the money and as she did Paul continued sprinkling money around the  room in various  locations making Nora run around like  his a  sky lark  collecting the money.  Little thing like that keep the performances fresh and spontaneous. At auditions I will often ask an actor to read a section of the script again but in a completely different way. It is a good way of seeing if they can think on there feet.I also like to get to know the actor a little at the audition,  have a chat with them about there work etc. Is there a bit of a connection between you?  Is he/she the sort of  person I  feel I can work with. Sometimes however, you just almost as they walk through the door you have found the right actor. When I directed The Doll’s House  last year we auditioned nearly 30 actresses just for the part of Nora over two days We saw some amazing talent. And then Alexa Mathews   walked in. There was just something about   her natural energy and presence that said- Nora to me. And as soon as she opened her mouth and read from the script. . . . .  well the words flew off the page Nora was standing right in front us. An extraordinary actress – Alexa Mathews.
What has been your best play/project to date?
That is actually a very difficult question to answer as I am very proud of everything  I have worked on  for very different reasons.I  am however particularly proud of  Henrik Ibsen A Doll’s House I directed  about this time last year. It took a while but I managed to get the rights to a version of the Ibsen Script which had been adapted by Bryony Lavery and until my production it had never been performed in London before. From negotiating and getting  rights to staging the play,  to the time we walked into the rehearsal room  took 8 months as previously mentioned. And it  was worth taking the time on this project. I had always wanted to direct it,  I think it is one of the greatest plays ever written. I spent a long time studying the script and working on a design with the brilliant stage  designer:  Katie Unsworth Murrey.
Also finding the right image for the publicity posters flyers. I wanted an image that would hopefully grab potential audiences  attention and then maybe  be quite surprised when they read the image was for  Ibsen play ‘A Dolls House’.  This was the  image we chose in the end
The eyes reminded me maybe of Nora looking out of her house through her post box  to the outside world, at  terrible possible  consequences to her life, that she had triggered.
I wanted to keep it set when it was written in the 1800s but for it to have a modern feel. I think its fair to say Ibsen and Checkov have a bit of a dreary dry reputation. Audiences almost expect to sit through a slow paced  evening of  not many laughs.  But Bryony Lavery script had such a modern feel to it. I avoided the slow pace a lot of Ibsen productions have and the dialogue was delivered at a cracking pace.  I wanted the audience in act 1 scene 1 to totally fall in love with Helmer and Nora. To see a  couple in love having fun,  Helmer teasing Nora about spending  to much money etc. We found some great  the fun  in  the script.
Then gradually from scene 2 we  saw the smallest of cracks in the marriage which got bigger and bigger  leading to its inevitable  powerful ending.
The first week we had small audiences. However, word of mouth got out very quickly and we had some great reviews and the  rest of the run completely  sold out. Alexa Mathews: as Nora and Paul Vates as Helmer gave performances of a life time.
What do you plan to do in the future, any upcoming projects?
I am  currently directing a short play for the: ‘In The Pound,’ event. An award-winning regular event that showcases new writing, actors, directors  at the Cockpit Theatre on the 12th Dec. which I am really enjoying working on. Other than that nothing confirmed. I am waiting to hear about possibly directing something in January  for a very exciting theatre in London that produce only new writing,  but cannot say much more than that as unconfirmed.
I am talking to a couple of brilliant up and coming writers –  Matthew Wilkie and Dick Curran –  about maybe collaborating on a project  with them. I would like to direct a new piece of writing on the look out for great new work  Also looking at directing a new musical. I directed a new musical few years ago for Goldsmith University musical theatre course.
Looking it maybe reviving this musical maybe. And I am also reading endless versions of Uncle Vanya by Anton Checkov. This is a long term project like –  A Doll’s House was I would love to produce and stage  Uncle Vanya.
You came back from doing Hang at Edinburgh with 4 and 5 star reviews, what was special about this play for you?
Hang by Debbie Tucker Green was the most amazing experience. Yellow Jacket Productions asked me to direct it, they had seen my work before  and sent me the script to look at. To be honest it did not take a lot of thinking about. Debbie Tucker Green is,  in my opinion, one of the best contemporary  writers working in the theatre industry today. ‘Hang’ was originally staged at The Royal Court Theatre and within minutes of reading some of the script  of’ Hang’, I was fascinated and desperate to know  – what on earth is going on?  The writing totally  holds your attention!!   All you know is you’re in a government room in the United Kingdom –  sometimes in the future – with two incompetent  government  officials and a lady, who, we eventually find out,  has been a victim of a violent crime. In the second section of the play you eventually learn they are there for the victims decision. She has to decide what form of death penalty  her attacker should receive  I.E  hanging, gas chamber lethal injection etc these methods are gone into in some detail, it is a very  haunting thought-provoking play.  It was one of hardest scripts I have ever worked on. Her writing reminds me of one of the greatest  20th century writers: Harold Pinter. I found myself looking at every comma,  full stop,  dash, semi colon, pause,. the script has a very unique style and rhythm and one character had some huge speeches.  It was a battle field breaking through the script,  an extraordinary piece of writing. The more you dig into it  the more you find. Before taking it to Edinburgh we performed it in London at The Lost Theatre. The theatre company, Yellow Jacket Productions, were brilliant at publicity it was a very big audience at quite a big theatre. I was blown away by the audience reaction. We had a few rehearsals before going to Edinburgh after the London performance  where we  tightened  a few things up and I made few changes to bits that I  thought needed more impact. The London show was very helpful for me to see what was working and what was not working in front of an audience. The show played for three weeks at Edinburgh festival this year got some great reviews.  And I am  very proud it won two awards: best individual performance for Tiannah Viechweg. And Best Drama. Once again I was blessed by three brilliant actresses. Tiannah Viechweg,  Jess Flood  and Kim Christie
You collaborate on new writing nights most recently Spiral, what do you find exciting about new writing?
If there was no new writing there would be no theatre, television drama,  films radio plays etc –  at all. New writing is vital for the industry to continue. Every single play from. . .  Shakespeare  to  Checkov to  Arthur Millet to Alan Aykbourn to Lucy Kirkwood  to the next great hit by a new writer all plays begin as new writing l. I loved working for  Free Rayne Artists and there  Spiral evening of new 15 minute pieces of new plays.   I directed a play called: 6am Hospital Chapel by Dick Curran who is  currently developing this into a full length play. I am very excited about the future of this play.
What advise do you give to aspiring theatre directors? 
Make things happen for yourself!!! I am a great believer in making things happen. Create your own luck. If I had not taken the mad decision and staged Anne Frank  I would not be being interviewed  by you now. You can go to University/drama school maybe even get a top agent. But if you sit and wait for the phone to ring. That phone will probably never ring. In todays industry you have to make things happen. Exactly the same for actors and any one in the creative industry. And do not be snotty about it. We would all love the great rehearsal space and theatre but if you want to make things happen  you might have to put up with a garage, park, pavement as rehearsal space  – just get out there and direct. Also see as much theatre as you possibly.. Read as many plays as you can – something I consider part of your job as a director. And try/apply work as an assistant director. Or write to directors asking if you can observe a rehearsal. You can learn so much from just watching. In today’s climate what would you say to anyone looking to do something in the arts? Do it!!
Because if it is in your blood you will always want to do it. And the great thing about the industry is you can go into it at any age if you really want to. But you will another job to bring the money in, because if you do not have a bit of money coming in, however small, you cannot work creatively because you have nothing to invest to make things happen. Not talking about a lot of money. Just to make things happen and be aware of what skills the creative industry can lead to. I have friends who trained in the creative  arts that are now: counsellors, psychologists, teachers, car sales men/women bar managers, and the greatest comic actor I have ever worked with;  now directs politicians helping them with their political speeches.

Actor Awareness ‘Best of Scratch’

micheele payne
THE STAFF ROOM written and directed by Michelle Payne
CAST: Craig Webb, Faye Derham, Hilary Murnane

They’re teaching our children, but are they teaching the right things? Three young teachers navigate their way through adulthood and educating. A peak inside a state school staff room. With fad diets, Instagram abs and the government imposing a sugar tax, do the educators even know what is good for us? A Geography, History and PE teacher form an unlikely friendship within the dynamics and the solace of the staff room, bonding over all that matters; biscuits and banter. The Staff Room, following it’s 5 star review from London Theatre 1 at Theatre N16 in the Summer, has been offered it’s first professional outing at the Queens Theatre Hornchurch in July 2017.


The Monologues of a Tired Nurse written by Stephanie Silver         Directed by Simon Nader

Cast: Sally played by Stephanie Silver/Emily by Emelia Marshall Lovsey

A look at 2 NHS nurses struggle to maintain their head above water. Performed at sell out nights at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016. Due for a run 20-26th Feb at Barons Court Theatre 2017 and Wandsworth Fringe at Fragility Takeover at The Cats Back 2017. Supported by RCN Rep and #ScrapTheCap Campaign for nursing pay.



Love and all That Crap by Oliver Retter

“And they all lived Happily Ever After”… Bullsh*t!

Love And All That Cr@p is a light-hearted ‘coming of age’ story about finding love in our modern day society. Follow a young man as he makes his discovery in awkward, amusing and arousing ways such as discovering your sexuality through porn; the naivety of your ‘first time’, a blind date gone terribly wrong and the all too true horrors of a one night stand as well as other stories and experience a cabaret of song, poetry and hilarity in this embarrassingly true story about love and all its unsaid difficulties.

OCD Theatre (Original, Contemporary, Dynamic) emerged from East 15 Acting School’s Contemporary Theatre course and has continued to produce intriguing new work which were praised for their daring and eye-opening subjects

Written & performed by Oliver Retter. With special thanks to Adam Weeks and Lottie Finklaire for their dramaturgical support.

Love And All That Cr@p contains strong language and a ridiculous amount of glitter.



Birth of a Nation written by Dave House & produced by IndigoChildArts

Satirical look at the failings of a Tory government riddled with NHS pains, Boris Johnson and Brexit.




We are very proud of all our plays that have gone on to be developed and hope to hear more about their progress in the future.

Now we look forward to 2017- Deadline for the first scratch with the theme ‘Working Class’ is Jan 7th. Send submissions to or We are looking for 4 shows, 15 minutes long with 3 actors max and 1 director.


Richard Summers Calvert


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: 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.