Actor Awareness workshop

actor

Actor Awareness are holding a workshop and networking event. The workshop will be 2 hours led by Sarah Victoria experienced actress and instructor

Workshops are costly for any Actor. Like a athlete that goes to the gym, actors must go to classes to flex their muscles. The evening will be improv and duolouges. Then the chance to mingle and have a drink at the end. A chance to meet fellow creatives and broaden your network of people

We have 40 places available

BOOK HERE: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/actor-awareness-workshop-tickets-27579401733

Actor Awareness Events

LAUNCH

The Actor Awareness Launch went off with a bang. After 2 years in the coming it was finally a proud night for Tom to be able to officially launch his campaign. I am a proud part of the campaign and the launch just showed the talent was off the chart. We had amazing poetry , comedy, singers and plays that showed a diverse range of talent. We unfortunately didn’t have a photographer to show pictures, so next time just make sure you’re there!!!

Hosted by Helen Scott

ACTS

● The cast of Tolkien- A New Musical
● Scooter by Paula Connolly
● Joe Bo- working class poetry
● The Monologues of a Tired Nurse by Stephanie Silver
● Johanna O’Brien – Singer
● Alice Marshall- Comedian

● Love And All That Crap by Oliver Retter
● Birth of a Nation by David House
● Ionica Adriana – Singer
● Netflix and Chill with Bae by Tom Stocks
● MDs Comedy Revue by UCL Hospital Medical Students

class night

The Class night was @GuildfordFringe on June 30th.

The Plays that have been chosen were staged:

Auf Achse (On the road) 
By Joe Staton & Patrick Renton

THE ROBBING CLASS 
By Michelle Payne

Fresh With Promise 
By Felicity Huxley-Miners

CLASSIFIED
By Jayne Woodhouse

n16

Our Health night was a raging success and each show from the night has been giving a evening slot in August to produce a 40-60 minute show of their original scratch piece!!!! So remember to keep following and grab your tickets when you can. Being part of our scratch nights is about progressing and improving and a big thanks to Jamie Eastlake for given everyone this opportunity. The shows in include

The Endo Me by Ed Keates

In The Dollhouse by Spark Assembly 

The Staffroom by Michelle Payne

The Mds Comedy Revue Sketch Show 

The Birth of a Nation by David House

We also having amazing news regarding two big projects!! So please please follow us on Twitter and Facebook! Or your miss out @actorawareness

Osman Baig

osman baig
‘Recently appeared in ‘Boy’ at the Almeida Theatre
Growing up did you always want to act, what inspired you? 
To be completely honest, no. I never harboured ambitions of being an actor growing up. I was never interested in school plays, nor was I even aware of the professional theatre on offer in my hometown of Bradford, Yorkshire. I’m aware that confessing such a thing is cavalier when being interviewed about a precious and burgeoning new career in acting, but please bear with me…I come from an impoverished, working-class family of four. Growing up, money was definitively tight. My parents moved to the UK from Pakistan in the 1960s with nothing to their names. They suffered through acerbic poverty and brutal discrimination – and were quite simply determined that their children never suffer the same shameful fate. So, long before “New Labour” extolled its virtues via slogans and soundbites, Dr. and Mrs. Baig were there to instill in me the paramount importance of “education, education and education” – above all else. Ergo, my nascent horizons were defined by the merits of sterling grades, university prestige and vocational ouvres in fields such as medicine, law and accounting.Acting wasn’t even near enough upon the horizon to be a joke. Of course, no-one is laughing now..!
 What draws you to acting?
 People. The quotation “be kind – everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” is attributed to Plato, but it has lingered with me for much of my adult life.
I often felt like an outsider growing up. As a poor, Asian child reeling in the wake of Thatcher’s Britain, there were intrinsic barriers to everyday life: materialistic sacrifice was a norm; racism was unavoidable and evergreen; personal sensitivity was a luxury. I grew up feeling like an outsider looking in. And painful though it was to come to terms with my own identity, the process taught me the immeasurable value of being an “observer”. Yet by comparing and judging myself against others, I came to the conclusion that we are more alike than we are different – a realisation which was affirmingly human.
Acting allows me to draw on that endless well of human community on my own terms. By channeling my own doubts and demons into characters I can showcase on a stage, I both expiate my own wrangling insecurities while championing the vital and communal values of the wider human struggle. In essence, the personal becomes the universal. We all face the same challenges, deep down, whatever our circumstances – acting is just honest about it.
 You came to acting slightly later than most, what made you make the definite change?
I come to acting having worked as journalist for ten years: initially at a local Bradford newspaper (the Telegraph & Argus) then – following a scholarship that propelled me to London’s prestigious City University and its world-class journalism school – at Sky News, BBC News, Al Jazeera and most recently CNN, where I continue to work as a writer and producer in addition to acting. Many have asked me why a journalist would be drawn to acting. My answer is simple: at the heart of both industries is storytelling. Whether you’re playing a soldier fighting for the uncertain future of his nation, or interviewing a young girl who has risked her life and future to escape North Korea, the values of each craft is the same: to honour the voice of someone who has no other opportunity to express it. I adore journalism and am so grateful CNN has supported me as I’ve pursued my acting career, continuing to offer me work despite my taut and evolving schedule. Special credit must be given to my bosses and contemporaries there: Rob North, Sara McDonald, Alireza Hajihosseini, Vicky Bennett, Charlotte Parson, Connie Lee, Clare Hayes, Leroy Ah-Ben, Zharina Arnaldo, Melissa Mahtani, Nina dos Santos, Maggie Lake, Luke Henderson and Gayle Harrington for their patience and understanding. But proud though I am of the stories I can showcase as a journalist, acting allows me to truly get under the skin of other people’s stories. Journalism is by virtue impartial and objective: acting is wild and personal – and I relish its imperfectly real qualities.
 You recently appeared in Boy at the Almeida. This play has quite a honest look at allot of peoples lives that doesn’t often get portrayed, what relevance do you feel Boy has in the current climate?
Boy has given a voice to the voiceless. Through the story of Liam, playwright Leo Butler and director Sacha Wares have penned something new: a ballad of the unknown metropolitan soldier. He moves through our world, silent but solitary, unknown and undemanding, fierce yet fragile. He is a part of us all, yet a part we don’t always want to acknowledge. He is, as Oscar Wilde said, “Caliban in the mirror” – the reflection of a society we will one day be ashamed to have harboured.
 What drew you to Boy? what do you think the message audiences take away?
 It’s truly an honour to be part of this story. This spectacle heralds a brave new era in theatre: one defined not by narrative harmony or aesthetic mores, but by truth: a truth that can be ugly, accountable, unapologetic and political. It’s exactly what drew me into theatre in the first place – to lay bare the plight of the unsung warriors – the unsuspecting walking wounded – who stagger among us all.
 The play has a fab diverse cast which represents the society we live in, do you feel as a actor of ethnicity that you get the same casting opportunities as some of your counterparts?
 Growing up, seeing an Asian actor on mainstream television was so rare that, when it happened, it would be accompanied by a confused flurry of excitement as the entire family gathered around the television to witness such a vague breakthrough. Things changed in the 90s with shows such as Goodness Gracious Me and the introduction of Asian actors on soaps like Eastenders. But ultimately, those roles were defined by ethnicity. Even now, some of my friends – educated and internationally-minded people though they are – assume that I am certain to default to “terrorist” roles in terms of casting.
 I would have believed them too if it wasn’t for Sacha, who cast me in five roles in Boy – none of which were defined by skin colour. And enormous credit too to the show’s brilliant casting director, Amy Ball, for doing something I would once never have imagined possible: casting a diverse and unique company of actors in a play that does not centre on race. Together, I believe they have broken new ground – and if nothing else, they have inspired me to believe that I can be worth more as a performer than the myopic limits of casual precedent. Hopefully this can signal a new and more inclusive era in casting.
 Arts in schools is currently being taking away and reviewed by the government and their is a disparty in what children will have access to, what would be your message to keep arts as an intergal part of the curriculum
 My message is simple. For all those who may doubt the merits of the arts – who may indeed denounce creative endeavour itself as futile in an increasingly competitive world driven by technology and finance – please remember that imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge polices the present, but imagination liberates the future. Imagination is the first step towards human betterment. New realities begin with new dreams. And the arts do something no other field can possibly do: they support those dreams. The arts are the scaffolding of the dreaming mind, the closest thing mankind has to peering into his future and determining his place therein.
You attended DSL, what do you think about the situation of young people not being able to afford audition fees? Do you have any thoughts on the current situation of drama school audition fees?
 It’s unacceptable. Rising and exorbitant fees are an intergenerational crime. Is there no other way? The only way I was able to pay for training at Drama Studio London was because I had saved perniciously over a decade and was willing to sacrifice a mortgage for the chance to pursue a wily but unrelenting new dream. I supported myself, to the last penny – but I had to wait ten years to achieve that. I don’t come from the kind of background which would have invested thousands in acting training – let alone continuing that support as I looked for work after graduation.
People often say the fees are less here compared to America – but where are the scholarships and support mechanisms to match the U.S.?
 We need more respect for arts training at a governmental level to truly support underprivileged new artists.
 Obviously having had the experience of training at a top London Drama school, what advise would you give to other actors looking to train or auditioning.
 Training is not always essential, and it certainly won’t make you a more talented actor, but it can help hone technical skills. Training is respected in the industry – but if it’s too expensive or prohibitive, there are alternatives – such as joining Casting Call Pro and working on student films to build up a showreel to approach agents with. But ultimately, we need a culture that doesn’t idolise full-time training – that can offer more respected, part-time alternatives to talented students.
 What keeps you motivated as an actor in this tough industry?
There is no plan B. And I am not just doing this for me – but for people who may one day look up to me and say, “well, he did it – so can I!”

Little Pieces of Gold

suzette

What inspires you about new writing?

I love it.  We hunger for stories and voices that resonate with and validate our own inner lives. New writing does that. It’s an opportunity to see ourselves and our concerns reflected. The new writing scene is vibrant and continually growing and a fantastic opportunity for writers – new or established – to get their work seen and to engage with a community of like minded souls.

Why do you think theatre is important?

My god we need theatre!  It gives space to the grey areas. It’s a container for the shitty, muddled up areas of our lives. It can ask all the questions and doesn’t need to give the answers.

What excites you about theatre as a medium?

The aliveness of it; its ability to transport you; the utter passion, dedication and commitment of those involved; the idea of an audience coming together to find something new.  It can also be very frustrating. Lack of good roles for women, lack of female playwrights on the main stages, the ‘exclusivity’ in terms of lack of access to job opportunities and bloody West End ticket prices!

How did Little Pieces of Gold start?

LPOG started in 2010.  As a writer myself I wanted to collaborate with other theatre makers and make theatre instead of waiting around for something to happen.

What is your aim with Little Pieces of Gold?

Our overall aim is to give a platform to as many new writers as possible and to act as a catalyst for their writing and theatre making careers.  As we’ve grown LPOG has also become a launching pad for directors and another outlet for actors to do what they’re brilliant at.  Through LPOG I’ve been able to meet and produce the work of some very brave and thought provoking playwrights.  For example, last year we produced Sarah Hehir’s first full length play, Child Z about the Rochdale child grooming scandal. And for 2017 we are aiming to produce a new play by award winning Jaki McCarrick. It’s the true story of Eleanor Marx’s relationship with the trade unionist Will Thorne whom she taught to read.  Jaki has called it a feminist ‘King’s Speech’ since Will Thorne had dyslexia and it was Eleanor who helped him to negotiate that in order to read and rise through the ranks of the trade unions. What’s so exciting is that this full-length production evolves out of the short that we commissioned Jaki to write for our recent ‘Class Ceiling’ production.  Going forward LPOG aims to do more of the same but funding is always an issue and much good work just doesn’t get made.

Tell us how Little Pieces of Gold works?

We produce regular new writing nights throughout the year and we normally run an open submission which is advertised on BBC Writersroom and social media.  Sometimes we run themed submissions or I might ‘commission’ a collection of plays from playwrights with whom I’ve worked with previously. We generally receive around 300-400 plays which are all read and then shortlisted. The shortlist is then read by our team of directors who decide which play they wish to take forward. Casting, rehearsals etc is then down to the individual director.  Our shows have a great reputation for the high quality of the writing, directing and acting.  Like all other new writing nights we all work for free. No-one makes any money from these productions.  But it’s a much needed showcase for creatives to hone their skills, network and build up their CVs.   We’ve worked at various venues including Park Theatre, Southwark Playhouse, Theatre 503 and the Bread & Roses.

What advice do you give writers submitting to LPG?

Read as many plays and short plays as you can. Attend new writing nights. See for yourselves what makes a good short play.

What do you look for in writing, what makes you keep reading?

The twenty-four million dollar question! You know it when you see it.  But … a strong writer’s voice that comes through on the very first page; un-cliched writing; a unique take on something;

How do directors get involved in LPG?

Check out our website and send in your CV.  I will then arrange to meet with a new director to see if can go forward. The directing team for each showcase generally changes so we’re always looking to meet new directors. 

Actor Awareness is a campaign fighting for diversity in actors from working class backgrounds or low income backgrounds, how do you feel the industry stands at present?

This industry is no different from any other. Access to opportunities is hugely unequal. It is not class envy to say that the dice is loaded. It’s never been any different and it’s getting worse. Getting into a London drama school and paying London rents is one thing. But then afterwards it comes down to having to juggle day-jobs to pay the bills with acting jobs and auditions.  To do this requires an inordinate amount of energy, hope and faith.  And a photographic memory when an audition comes through for the very next day with the expectation that the actor needs to memorise a whole chunk of text.  There is no need for this when audition schedules and spaces are booked in advance. It’s disrespectful towards actors and it perpetuates a situation whereby only actors with the time and resources can give their best.   I love what actors do.  Working class or low income backgrounds or gender and ethnicity should not exclude actors – or writers and directors – from pursuing their chosen career paths.

Theatre Review by Emelia Marshall Lovsey

emelia

Meelia Marshall Lovsey

Reviewer for Actor Awareness

We have a new column in this months newsletter. I welcome Meelia onto the team as Actor Awareness official Theatre buff and reviewer. She has a kean eye for detail and this month she reviewed ‘Boy’ at the Almeida theatre.

boy

‘Boy’ Almeida Theatre

  • Written by Leo Butler
  • Directed by Sacha Wares

As you enter the auditorium, the actors are already in character and busy at work on the stage which is made up of a rotating travellator. Everyone is too busy dealing with the stresses and tasks of their own lives to pay any attention to ‘Boy’. The play begins with him walking into the doctor’s office, except half the audience haven’t noticed him and are still talking.

‘Boy’ actually called Liam is played brilliantly by Frankie Fox. Liam is an inarticulate, isolated and awkward 17 year old boy who doesn’t seem to really know anyone, or know how to get what he wants or needs. He speaks (and mumbles*) in a mixture of confused multi-cultural jargon and London slang, which makes it difficult to understand what he’s saying. It equally helps him blend in and avoid difficult conversations. Much of the story is Liam listening into other people’s conversations with a lack of ‘drawn out dramas’. Despite this, the audience still feels empathy for Liam as he eats someone’s thrown-out-left-over chips and gives his half sister a pack of Doritos which she’s saving for breakfast. Although we never meet Liam’s parents, he does mutter something about them being on ‘zero hour contracts’. It suddenly doesn’t seem as ‘clean-cut’ as blaming Liam’s situation on abusive parents or addicts, it’s just hard to make enough money and survive, especially in London. Maybe they’re just too busy working?

The strong cast which is made up of a large ensemble is refreshing. It’s not in every show that you see such a diverse spectrum of actors from all different ages and backgrounds. There is no better way to represent London accurately. This means we get to see the struggle of many other characters including people sleeping rough, disabled people who have had their benefits taken away, struggling parents and punished dole applicants. Essentially the future looks bleak for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of money. This definitely isn’t a play that makes you feel particularly good or hopeful about the world, it’s scary to acknowledge that what is happening in this play is happening in our country and capital.

The unrelenting set which rotates round on a travellator is constantly being made up and then, almost instantly, picked apart. It transforms into different locations (anything from a park, to a street of houses to J.D Sports and so) as Liam walks aimlessly through the streets of London. The set is both clever and at times very distracting verging on irritating. It’s easy to get carried away watching the set being built in front of you and all together forget about Liam or ‘Boy’, which is who the audience have paid to watch. It is unclear whether this is something intentional or not, regardless when the show is finished one message is clear: ‘Boy’ is easily missed by anyone and everyone.

Though not quite as gripping, thrilling and heart breaking as Gary Owen’s production of ‘Iphigenia In Splott’ which is a furious call to arms, performed at The National Theatre earlier this year; this is still a worthy production. A great sense of empathy for Liam (and other’s) isolations and bleak futures was achieved. This play feels very current and necessary: things cannot continue as they are because the Liam’s of the world need our help- grab your ticket while you still can!

*A clear and appropriate character choice.

Cosme & Scott Casting

jay cosme

What draws you to the profession of working in the arts?

I have been a part of the Industry since I was 7 years old, starting out as a child actor on stage. I think for me it’s the fact that no day is the same… Whether that is a new Script coming in, or a last minute casting request from a Director! There really is no way to predict how the week will go and for me that beats any 9-5 office job!

 How did you become a casting director?
 I started out Casting my own short films using mostly friends to fill the parts before (by chance I should add) I attended a networking event and met with a representative of a large company and after much persuading on my part, I landed my first commercial casting job! Thankfully the rise of Social Media has given actors, writers and people like myself a platform to connect with Indie (and established) directors, producers and other professionals. Thanks to Social Media, networking nights, screenings and other such events, I have connected with some really talented story tellers and creatives.
 Lots of actors are members of Spotlight but often don’t feel they get allot from the service in regards to having access to the same auditions as others, as a casting director do you feel their is a heirachy when companies/producers send out information regarding jobs?
I think that as a Casting Director you have to put your faith in the Agents, we have to trust that an Agent is fully aware of their Client’s skills and abilities and that the Agent has put their own reputation on the line by representing said client! Many Actors unfortunately do not understand contracts, buyouts, agreements etc and as a Casting Director you really do not have the time to explain these things. That’s not to say I don’t consider un-represented Actors but ultimately from a professional point of view, an Actor with an Agent tells me that this Agent has faith in the Client and that I am auditioning a professional. Unfortunately many actors without an Agent are at risk of not always being taken seriously which is a shame but something that I do understand.
 When someone sends you their details, what tips would you give?

The advice is to send me a nice headshot (or 2) and a CV, plus details of any shows/performances you are taking part in… I always try my best to attend but if I can’t then I do send along my Assistant.


As a casting director what do you look for when an actor comes into a room?

Personally, my favourite people are the ones who (despite the rubbish train journey or traffic) come in with a smile on their face, cheerful, have learned their lines and are ready! I can’t stand it when an Actor says ‘I haven’t learned the lines as I only got the Script yesterday’. If you was on a soap, you would be learning 10x more dialogue in 24 hours on a daily basis. Not acceptable.

 What advise do you give for actors headshots?
For years the Industry standard has been black&white but it appears that colour ‘American’ style shots are becoming the norm. Personally I like to see colour and black&white! I also like to see a neutral expression with minimal make up, maybe 1 or 2 with a smile.

Do you think in the industry people look at actors who train at drama school and university differently?

I think some do… However for me, I don’t think an Actors ability is necessarily determined by Drama School, some of the best actors had no formal training. Drama school is great to learn and practice but ultimately, if you fit my brief then I am going to call you in… With or without drama school training.

 You are an official supporter of Actor awareness, what do you feel as an casting director that you can do to improve the current playing field in the industry?
 We believe that Actors should be treated fairly like all other freelance workers and should receive fair pay! To often we see casting calls for actors that offer no pay, no expenses and more, unfortunately the more eager actors out there will go for these parts and see it as training or experience… Whilst I appreciate their passion, it’s still wrong.
As Casting Directors we do not cast for no pay jobs or expenses only as we do not agree with the idea of working 10-12 hour days with no pay.

 How do you feel working class actors are represented? What do you think needs to change?

I think it’s a very sad situation… Coming from a working class background myself, I know only to well how expensive Drama school is and the stigma that seems to be attached to working class actors! Some of the best talent lays hidden amongst working class actors. I believe and we are doing everything we can to change this through our own street castings in deprived areas of London and other places.

I urge Agents to open their eyes and look further afield to these sorts of places, your next big star could be sitting there undiscovered!

UNDEREXPOSED

underexposed

How did Underexposed come together?

I had written a short play that happened to explore the idea of a certain underexposed stereotype. From this, I had the idea that underexposed stereotypes in general was an interesting subject matter to reflect on and one that had a lot of scope. There didn’t seem to be anything on the theatre scene that quite pertained to this idea so I decided to produce my own theatre festival under that theme because, well, why not?! It was a big undertaking but one that I knew would be fruitful and it felt good to be doing something so proactive. The next thing I needed was more plays so I put some feelers out there and ended up getting a huge number of excellent submissions from friends, friends of friends, acquaintances and total strangers! I selected the ones that I felt would worked best in the festival and alongside that developed another couple of my own pieces with the underexposed theme in mind. A meeting of all the writers took place shortly before Christmas with each one being given the autonomy to select their own crew and run their own show (as it were). There was still plenty of orchestration to be done and the small matter of my own three shorts to be cast and rehearsed (with me in them as well) so I had my work cut out for me but the show was definitely on the road by this point (or the engine was on and we’d backed out the drive-way anyway).

What is Underexposed ethos?

Exploring any stereotypes that get less publicity than the big ones, especially ones where stigmatisation is still more or less acceptable. It can be anything from the serious and worthy to the silly and light-hearted as long as it fits the bill. We’ve got everything from post-natal depression and revolution to hyper-spirited artistic types and deliberations over cocks and consequences in this one so it’s a broad church!

What is your current production about?

It’s a collection of nine short plays with each exploring the underexposed theme from different perspectives. They’re a mixture of comedies and dramas, although the balance is towards the former. The serious ones still raise some laughs and smiles and the comedies present some salient arguments so your mental and emotional muscles get a good flexing all round!

Actor Awareness is about creating equal opportunity, how do you guys feel the industry needs to address certain factors such as maintaining a inclusive arts culture?  (big question! sorry)

By avoiding stereotyping! I think it starts with the writing and the casting: have an open mind about what your character is going to look and sound like and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. In reality, people from different backgrounds can, should and do occupy positions in all walks of life and if you can’t reinforce that through art then when can you? So if you’ve written an ostensibly white middle class character – see some working class people for it, see people from ethnic minority backgrounds; if you’ve written an archetypal businessperson – see some women for the part. Will they be any less believable? They shouldn’t be – not if the character’s fully drawn. Still always pick the best actor for the part, don’t anybody any favours – it’s patronising, and don’t discriminate in the other direction – that’s not fair either. Just widen your perspective, challenge your preconceptions and keep your options open. We’re so conditioned to think of certain people looking and sounding a certain way that it’s going to take an enormous amount of reconditioning to change that. If I said to you ‘close your eyes and think of a surgeon’, nine out of ten people will summon to mind an image of a white, middle-class man. Are all surgeons white, middle class men? Of course not. It’s the same across a whole host of professions and ‘types’ of people. It’s the way we’ve learnt to understand the world from when we were babies. Changing laws, launching initiatives is difficult (but doable), restructuring centuries of psychological and societal conditioning – harder. I think that’s the way we have to go though really – rather than writing more plays and films tailored to specific groups of people and then having the main dominated by the same people it always has been. What I’m saying is hardly revelatory and of course it’s already happening to an extent -(although more so on the small screen than the big and not nearly enough in theatre). So, how about making the next big movie a character-driven drama about a business executive who has an affair with another executive (on an equal pay grade) and then happen to cast Idris Elba and an unknown 5ft 3 inch brunette actress like um, me. Sorry!! Couldn’t resist…. There was a serious point in there though.

Shows– 8th and 9th May at The Old Red Lion Theatre in Angel, Islington. 

Performance starts at 7.30pm and lasts around two hours with a fifteen minute interval.

Full details of all the different plays, as well as the writers, directors and actors involved in them can be found on our website at:

www.underexposedtheatre.com