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