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.

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!

Daniel Harding on being a Filmmaker

danile harding 

So what attracts you to film?
I’ve always been slightly obsessed with film, and even from a young age I would beg my mum to take me to the video store so we could rent something and I’d then watch it two or three times before we returned it the next morning. But it’s hard to pin point what exactly attracts me to film. For me, I think ‘film’ encompasses a range of different art forms I am interested in – writing and photography for example, but I also love the collaboration with the actors and compiling the footage into a coherent story. Film has everything.

What filmmakers inspire you?
Recently it’s been the more independent filmmakers who have inspired me most – perhaps because as I get older I am looking at ways to get my work seen, and they are closer to my level. So filmmakers like Jeff Nichols, Jeremy Saulnier and Ben Wheatley are ones to take an interest in.

When did you decide to start making your own short films?
When I was 23.5 years old. I had just left uni and I didn’t fancy joining a production company and ‘working my way up.’ I had saved up enough money whilst I was uni to buy all my own equipment.

What is the toughest part of the filmmaking process ?
It’s a fifty-fifty between funding and casting. It is hard to juggle two jobs in order for one to pay for the other, and then casting is just a stressful and anxious process as you want to get the right people, and it often requires a lot of staring at a screen watching showreels – it does help me to realise ‘who’ the characters are though.

What advise do you give to new filmmaker?
The more you do the better and learn to let go – you will get hung up on ‘mistakes’, but learn from them and move on to the next project.

Tell us your best and worst time filmmaking?
Best time was shooting The Missing Hand, as I was giggling the whole way through, and the worst is either shooting Loop (when it was a very cold) or Killer Bird (a production too big for me to handle by myself).

What would you never scrimp on when putting a budget together for a short film?
Paying people! If you pay, it gives your the control and freedom to get the right people. You are a professional production and it will get treated as such. And also, leave budget for music.

Tell us about your current project?
So I’ve got numerous projects in various stages of production. The next one I am shooting at the end of June is called Man In A Suit and it’s short drama about a new government initiative set up to reduce unemployment. I’ve just released Toast online, which is a ‘one minute, one shot, existential comedy about bread’, and I am just about to start editing a new one called Two Pound Forty Pence which is a nightmarish-thriller about a guy who is pursued by a beggar.

What is your next plans
Figuring out a way to produce a feature film.

At Actors Awareness we encourage diversity in film, how do you apply this when casting your shorts?
I think we should all be more aware about diversity and it’s importance. I have to admit that I don’t consciously choose to be ‘diverse’ when casting, but I also don’t restrict my castings either. I don’t look at class, ethnicity or physical characteristics when casting. But for me it all comes down to the character on the page and who is the best choice to bring that to life.

Where do you look to get crew and cast for film projects?
Either through networking or casting sites like Casting Call Pro.

Check out Toast on Vimeo

Interview with Jaime Eastlake at Theatre N16

n16

Jaime is a producer, performer, artistic director and executive director of Theatre N16 in Balham. The theatre has moved from Stoke Newington and is becoming a prominent fringe venue for new writing and quality work. Jaime has worked hard and knows the industry well having produced many plays at Edinburgh, as well as up North, he also understands the struggles actors face as he was one once himself. Theatre N16 is a fringe venue that has just signed with Equity @EquityLPNP and in the last 6 months and has paid all his staff a wage, that’s a really positive step forward for fringe theatre. Here Jaime answers my questions.

jaime eastlake

Jamie growing up how did you decide that you wanted to be an actor?

I always knew I was an entertainer, I needed a medium to express myself from a young age and that’s how acting came about. I would however say now I definitely don’t consider myself as an actor and I’ve gave that side up. As a producer and artistic director I see myself as a storyteller now. 

Who inspires you?

So many things and people inspire me. My real love is football and where I’m from, that always inspires me. I’m from the North East where passion comes in abundance. Heart on your sleeve types are the norm. That’s definitely what inspires me most. I just want to tell stories with real fight and against the norm. The individual that inspires me most at the minute would be Michael Harrison who’s one of the producers of Gypsy and The Bodyguard on the West End. We have ties to the same small town theatre where I’m from so to know somebody from home has done so well makes me know I can do the same.

What attracts you to theatre especially ?

I found it the easiest medium to get into so that’s what sort of hooked me. I have a background in filmmaking also, but with filmmaking it always takes meticulous planning and an excessive amount of time micromanaging. With theatre I’ve always had a knack of getting shit done with no money and just real graft so that’s the attraction really. I think i’d be making films if I had loads of cash. Probably because I enjoy watching films more than watching theatre If I’m honest. 

What advise as an actor would you give to other actors 

As a theatre maker I’d advise to mingle lots. Don’t ‘Network’ that words a load of shite, just mingle and see things and do things and meet people and just be nice and not businesey and just nice. Does that make sense? I cast someone on 1/3 talent, 1/3 suiting the part and 1/3 a nice human being who wants to talk about lots of nice things. And is nice. Also work hard, work damn hard. Nobody owes you anything, yes we all complain sometimes about how “difficult it is to break in to the industry” but stay grounded and remember you live in the UK, you’ve most likely got food on your table and your chasing a dream

You have produced many of your own plays at the fringe, how has this developed you as a producer, artist?

I started as a producer on the fringe to basically give myself parts and help people around me so as a producer it helped massively. The best thing is to make a load of mistakes and learn in the worst possible situation. I’ve learned so much from these mistakes and seeing mistakes and how not to do things around me.

What advise do you give companies going to the fringe?

If it’s your first time? I’d say don’t listen to what most people say. Most people will say don’t get pissed and whatnot. I’d say do it, drink every night, go to parties, meet loads of people, see loads of stuff. Chances are you’re not gonna get picked up in your first year, so just really be in the moment and enjoy it. Your part of the biggest arts festival in the world. It’s such a special feeling. Especially the first time you do it, it’s electric. And you just never know who you’re going to speak to a 4 in the morning after your eleventh cinzano and lemonade.

You have a theatre company based at The Bedford in Balham, what made you set up Theatre N16? What is N16 ethos?

I’ve always talked about having a pub theatre for years. I worked for a golf club for years and used to produce theatre in it’s clubhouse so I’ve always known the restrictions and the skillset you need to manage a building that might not necessarily ‘get’ theatre. I worked for another theatre on their management team for a year and decided I’d picked up enough skills and ideas and could do it myself, so that’s where N16 came about. Myself and a few other creatives opened it up for a short time in Stoke Newington (where the N16 comes from) and the idea was to provide a space that kept overheads as low as possible and that’s basically what it’s about. We believe in everyone being paid fairly, all of our staff are paid, we don’t run on volunteers like other places and we signed Equity’s fringe agreement too recently. Again reiterating what I said before, I’ve always had a knack of finding money and making work through hard work. N16 is an accumulation of that.

You promote allot of new writing, what about new writing excites you?

I like text and you just know when you read something that could be brilliant. As a producer on the hunt for the next big thing is an exciting prospect. I want to find the next Luke Barnes or Alistair Mcdowell. (Both Northern lads may I add)

You just signed a agreement with payment for fringe artists , kudos, what other issues do you think are most prevalent in the industry at the moment?

Issues is a tough word isn’t it. I think there’s many problems in the industry at the minute that lots of people are working extremely hard to solve, gender equality being a massive one but that’s obviously not just this industry. If anything I’d say our industry is at the forefront of trying to change things with loud voices speaking out and doing so much to make a difference.

You have been supporting Actor Awareness, firstly thank you and secondly why do you think it is important to offer your support? How do you feel about diversity especially working class actors?

I’m from a real working class area and it’s blindingly obvious that the people currently in power don’t give a flying fuck about any of us plebians. I think pushing working class people and trying to get them on a level playing field is something that has to be done. Diversity across all platforms of storytelling is a must for proper balanced work to breakout. I’m a massive fighter for this idea and will continue to be so. However sometimes if you just step back, see what you are trying to do, realise you’re white, male, live in the UK and look at what’s happening all over the world- it makes you push a little harder and continuously appreciate what you have, over what you don’t have.

Thank you Jaime for your time.

Readers DO go visit Theatre N16, they have fab new writing and plays being produced as well a literacy department for budding writers, where you can get feedback on your play. Jaime is the very essence of Actor Awareness, a northern working class lad pushing for a diverse theatre forefront.

Events

 lgbt

LGBT Scratch Night at The Bread and Roses Theatre

So every month we hold  a scratch night of new material, actors, writers and directors get a chance to showcase their work to an audience. At the last few scratch nights we have had directors, agents and producers come and the interest in the events is gathering momentum. If you follow our Twitter @actorawareness or our Facebook page, you can keep up to date with the next scratch nights, submission opening and deadlines.

LGBT night we have a line up including comedys, musicals and even a victorian piece

Book Tickets now:  http://www.breadandrosestheatre.co.uk/actor-awareness.html

Writers nights: Held every month in various locations. This is a informal forum for people to gather and generate ideas. It is a safe environment so people can bring an idea, a script, we can read material out or discuss ideas. Places are £8, please email tanheartssteph@gmail.com for a spot

Cabaret Night- More detail to follow but we have a very exciting event coming up!!

Film- we have several film ideas n the pipeline that hopefully we can tell you about one day soon, so keep your eyes peeled

John Byrne

john

You are a performer, agent, coach and writer, that is a lot of hats, what do you love doing the most?

I think for anybody working in the arts, having to juggle a number of jobs has always been an issue-although, due to both technology the current economy it has now become something people in all walks of life have to do. For me the common factor in all the things I do is using my communication skills to help people to break through the barriers that might be holding their own artistic development back, whether that’s a kid in one of my shows who thinks he can’t draw, or an actor at one of my workshops who thinks they can’t plan their business.

When you were growing up what influenced you towards the arts?
I was always keen on books, comics, stage and screen, but I think the book which really ‘flipped the switch’ for was a book I read when I was about 13 on the making of the original Star Trek TV series. It had interviews with actors, writers, set designers…all very commonplace in books these days but a revelation back then….and I suddenly realised that a) real people made these productions and b) I could be one of those people. I’ve been involved in many and various radio, TV and stage productions since then but I sometimes still feel like that 13 year old who is in wonderment that he is now behind the scenes like the people I used to read about.

What excites you about theatre?
Even with all the advantages of new technology, there are still a lot of practical hoops to jump through to get work on screen, whereas not only is there something very collaborative and ‘instant’ about theatre-even when it has been in rehearsals for weeks!-but it has the magic that it is different every time you do it.

What do you feel is a real and current issue within the industry right now? You have been supporting Actor awareness, firstly thank you and secondly what do you feel about Actor Awareness as a campaign?

For me, inclusivity is the biggest issue in the industry right now… but to be honest I think it has always been an issue, it is just that the internet and new media has given it a voice. As Lucille Ball (who most people remember as a comedian but who was also the first woman to ever head up a major American production company) said ‘Ability without Opportunity doesn’t amount to much.’ I don’t think it is an ‘anti-posh’ or ‘anti-men’ or ‘anti-white’ issue I can think of many ‘posh white male’ actors who are deservedly successful because they are undeniably talented, who work hard and who give back, and fair play to them-the problem is more that the initial opportunities to get going in the industry aren’t as easily available to some as to others, and I think this is the area where we all need to work towards a positive expansion. For me one of the most encouraging developments of the Actors Awareness campaign are initiatives like the scratch nights, so that as well as raising the issue of opportunity, the campaign is actively creating opportunity.

When you coach actors what’s your top tip?
Every actor is different but one of the really important steps for all of us is to work out what in our careers is inside our control and what is outside and making the commitment to work consistently on the stuff we have control over, while forming positive alliances and relationships to help get some leverage on the rest.

What do you feel about drama schools, the inequality (in some peoples opinion) in uni trained and drama school trained students? Drama school fees? Drama school showcases? The fact more and more drama school want to drop out of the accredited system, meaning finance will be available to less?
I always say that while training of any sort never guarantees success in this business, and there have always been successful ‘self taught’ actors, it’s a hard enough business at the best of times that proper training is big advantage-so not having access to training is by implication a disadvantage. Talent is obviously an accident of birth, which actors don’t have control over, as indeed is the social and financial situation they are born into. Hard work is something they do have control over, and in the movies that should be enough in itself to achieve their goals, but in real life , we still need to work towards a more level playing field to enable every actor to have an equal chance of benefitting from their hard work in both the training and career situations.

Thank you John for you time, here John has given us lots of words of wisdom and food for thought.

Adam Morley

Adam Morley Photo.

Adam is an award winning Director/Writer/Producer Artistic Director of The Regional touring company Baroque Theatre and is the Associate Director of the Canal Café Theatre in London, home of the Guinness Book of World Records holder world’s longest running live comedy show ‘Newsrevue’ which he has directed many times in London.

His work in film and advertising has twice been nominated at Cannes Lions winning in 2006 in the same year he was named as one for the creatives of the year in creative review magazine. He won an Editor’s Choice Award as Artistic Director for best new venue, Edinburgh 2008. He directed the winning show for the national new writing competition for Writers Avenue (Seconds) which received a transfer to the Pleasance Main House. He was awarded “Best Director for Theatre & Film” at the Fringe Report Awards 2012. Adam also directed an acclaimed UK tour of ‘Great Expectations’ for the bicentenary of Charles Dickens birth .

He directed ‘Dracula’ in the West End in a limited sold out run starring Andrew Lee Potts (Primeval). He has also directed Lady Windermere’s Fan and new writing based on the life of Woody Allen at The Pleasance Theatre staring James Phelps (Fred Weasley, Harry Potter film series), as well directing for the University of Cumbria and various Drama Schools across the UK . Adam has directed Moliere and Lorca in French and Spanish language for the sold out five star seasons at The Barons Court Theatre and internationally. Further credits include The Birds by Conor McPherson from the story by Daphne du Maurier.  Inspector Morse “House of Ghosts”, “The Haunting of Hill House”, “Up Pompeii” and many others for Baroque Theatre Company.

He is now joining Actor Awareness as our executive producer!

So Adam you are firstly a great director, I’ve had some first hand experience. What draws you to directing?

Thank you I am blushing, I love telling stories in a variety of ways using a wide range of methods, I enjoy very much working with actors and tech, my training was very practical, there is not a job in film or theatre that I haven’t done professionally and I always wanted to direct to use the talents and energy of casts and crew to tell great stories.

You’re director who really understands actors and works with them, what do you think a good actor offers a director?

Great actors offer me options as a director, no one wants an actor to just stand there and say “direct me”, we want creative minds and people prepared to take risks and experiment, look ugly and be beautiful.  I want an actor who has great personal discipline and a joy and hunger for what they do, someone who brings ideas and enthusiasm into the rehearsal room and is prepared to match my energy and commitment to any given project.

What makes an actor stand out for you?

Someone who treats the industry and themselves like a business rather than a hobby, unfortunately I do come across some actors who aren’t prepared to even do the bare minimum or present themselves badly, don’t read a brief properly or simply expect something handed to them with no effort. Talent isn’t enough you need to own your art and self, be prepared to sacrifice and do your research, constantly be working to improve yourself .

When casting a show for actors, can you give our readers some tips on answering an ad.

Yes, firstly actually read it properly….Don’t skim read, all the information you need should be in a well written ad and it is normally not much to read. Also do your research, find out about the project and the people involved, don’t just cut and paste a standard covering letter. Once you have done that ask yourself the question do you actually want to apply, is it the right thing for you, are you available? if yes then write a personal short and professional cover note stating your suitability relevant experience and knowledge of the piece and or the people.  If you are Dyslexic like I am have someone proof read it. No more than a couple of short paragraphs, as casting is a time pressured event people may not have the time to read a long detailed letter.

What excites you about theatre?

I love the immediacy of the theatre. The linear aspect of it; the excitement of an audience entering an auditorium before curtains go up. I love the feeling of captivating an audience and feeling the energy created by cast and spectator. The fact that no two nights are ever truly identical and different audiences see a show differently, find new elements funny or moving it keeps you on your toes.

What do you think as a director is your best asset? 

I am an actors director and what I mean by that is I feel I can communicate across concept and enthusiasm clearly and effectively to create a shared vision. I also understand tech and design which helps create the world of the show and I like to work  collectively as part of a company. Over the years I have gained enough experience to work smart and fast allowing for strong time management  and people skills. My shows I am pleased to say are generally happy ships. I lead by example using my energy and enthusiasm to motivate my teams.

You are a avid supporter of Actor Awareness, what drew you to being part of the campaign?

I strongly believe the Arts should be the leaders in helping to create equality and diversity. We have a duty to help raise awareness and create opportunity for education, this promotes and ensures a rich tapestry for our society. Actor Awareness  is striving to do just that and has grown so much in a short space of time, we don’t just talk about inclusivity we actually do something about it and get off our own backs without funding.  My personal goals and those of Actor awareness were well matched. I have always operated a blind casting policy for example (Where I have been allowed to sometimes right holders won’t allow it) and have actively fought for and tried to address the imbalance in the industry in my own small way. Actor Awareness has helped me reach more people and actively create more opportunity.

You are now executive producer of Actor Awareness, what do you want to do within your role?

I am delighted to have a more formal relationship with Actor awareness and I hope to be able to provide even more support for Tom and everyone involved.  It means I can help with fundraising and profile raising. We have a shared goal and I can now wrap up even more work and events with Actors Awareness, there are some very exciting developments and opportunities being created so watch this space.

In your own theatre company you are very adamant about highlighting gender equality and women voices, what do you think about both issues and representation in the industry at current?

They are appallingly represented. There is far too much discussion without anything actually being done to tackle the problems. The fact that Women especially are so under represented at every level is ridiculous and the mainstream top end of the industry must do more to address this.  Writer’s producer’s directors and casting directors we need to do more to get away from traditional gender stereotypes and start focusing on the human story regardless of gender. I understand there are commercial concerns but we must trust our audiences more that they can easily cope with gender reversal or blind casting. We need more female roles we need better female representation at the top end of the industry, enough now it’s 2016, the time for change is upon us not in five years’ time but now.

You often talk about not being pretty on stage, being truthful, what do you think about beauty and image in the industry at current?

The focus can on beauty especially body and weight is very worrying. Women are being objectified and considered more for their outfit then their character. I have created an actors bootcamp keep fit for performance. It is about Strength endurance and flexibility not about weight; you can carry weight and still be fit.

I often see in students or new graduates so much fear in their performances that hold them back because they are scared to look ugly on stage.  You can’t be beautiful on stage without allowing yourself to be ugly as well… Don’t hold back let go and allow you the physical and emotional expression needed to fully realise a character. We are all ugly, good looking, fat, thin, unique, the same…we need to get over ourselves and allow freedom of creation to occur for real truth on stage.

What do you feel about uni trained and drama school trained students?

I feel that the main difference is not one of talent but opportunity and technique. What I mean by this is at most drama schools your week is structured with long days working on a variety of techniques i.e voice and speech, movement etc. At University the contact and face to face time is much less.  Drama schools of a certain level have higher profile showcases and therefore more chance of getting signed by a top agent thereafter. Part of the remit of a university student is research and self-learning. This is very difficult in terms of the core fundamentals but not impossible. I feel the tide is turning and the days of snobbery towards University graduates as opposed to drama school ones is changing. I have employed both and find little or no difference. Ultimately your training should never end, there are financial and time factors to consider but there are ways to continually improve yourself. Sight read every night, practice cold reads, warm up properly, exercise read and watch plays, work harder.

What do you think about drama school training at current in todays industry?

Like with any training providers some are excellent and others not so much. I would suggest if you are considering the investment in drama school training do your research. Find out what they do and who runs them, who teaches on them, do they have a specific approach and what is it.

How do you think the arts cuts are affecting us? The government are cutting creative subjects in schools and reducing maintenance loans for students, eventually the divide in working class actors and those in a wealthier positions will be wider, do you agree with this?

Yes the gulf is increasing and this is having an adverse reaction to the industry. We need to find a sustainable model, we can’t just throw money at the problem we need to tackle the wider issues and consider funding and application. However there is a real danger of completely shutting out the working class from any form of artistic expression that is not directly relevant to an area of arts funding that needs a box ticking. The industry as a whole needs to examine where money is going and must help create business as well as supporting the unheard voice. Art and finance can co-exist they are not mutually exclusive, my company does not take a penny of public funding we survive via our commercial and creative ability and this is something that perhaps needs looking at and can be taught. Commercial does not mean bad and is often unfairly maligned. The way arts funding is awarded in my opinion needs a serious review to ensure transparency and consistency, the fact that there are specialist form filing producers who’s only task is to decipher funding applications suggests to me that perhaps the applications and requirements are incoherent and therefore not necessarily in every case going to where is best needed. It’s not about putting values on creativity, more considering the needs of larger publicly funded organisations and perhaps helping them diversify their income streams to free much needed money for other causes.

 

Thank you Adam what a pleasure!!!!!!!!!!

Instinct Theatre

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Lily Driver

Lily founded Instinct Theatre in 2014, directing and producing the companies sell out run of No Exit. She continues to co- run the business with Felicity Huxley Miners, and is delighted to be acting in their project ‘The Shakespeare Collections.’
Lily has recently co-written and will be acting in contemporary dark comedy, ‘Stench’. To run Feb 10th -12th in The London Theatre in New Cross.
Before Instinct theatre Lily involved herself in short acting courses at Lamda and studied acting at Italia Conti Academy. Lily is currently with 1st Talent Agency. She has been in several productions, her favourites include playing Eva in Accrington Pals and Ariel in The Tempest. Lily has also completed her 8 Lamda exams, including a distinction in Grade 8.
Felicity Huxley-Miners

Felicity played Inez in Sartre’s No Exit in 2014. She now co-runs Instinct Theatre with Lily Driver, acting and producing in The Shakespeare Collections. Felicity then went on to co-write ‘Stench.’ To be performed in New Cross at The London Theatre.
She trained at The BRIT School studying Musical Theatre before spending a year training at Italia Conti in Acting and is a member of the National Youth Theatre.
She has worked in a various theatre productions from Shakespeare to modern immersive and has also done a variety of film work. Favourite credits include a campaign for Vauxhall, Martha in The Cat’s Pyjamas with The London Showcase and corporate work for the RAF and NHS.

Instinct Theatre’s play Stench is about Kate, Beck and Tilly. They are three young women in their twenties, planning a quiet night together in their flat. However when Kate’s brother turns up and invites an unwelcome guest into their midst they really get the party going and things rapidly spiral out of control. As the second act opens events take a turn for the worse and soon the dynamic shifts, revealing far more about each character than they intended.

Instinct theatre also run ‘The Shakespeare collections’

The Shakespeare Collections are workshops and revision classes that focus on the GCSE Shakespeare plays. Each workshop is 90 minutes, and studies the text from a practical approach. Activities include focusing on the plot, key characters, and exam questions, and Instinct Theatre performing key scenes in classical text and in the modern translation

LIly and Felicity’s Theatre company, ideas and goals are growing, 2016 hopes to be a fantastic year. They our offering our Actor Awareness readers a offer on booking for their new play ‘Stench” please follow my page @steffieegg12 for the theatre discount code which will be available soon.

BOOK TICKETS for Stench with their 10% discount code. Go to the day which you want to book through correct link and claim your discount for some top theatre.

Wed 10th- http://www.wegottickets.com/sct/U3h5jcaA3X

Thurs 11th http://www.wegottickets.com/sct/gpYcRvBzZj

Fri 12th   http://www.wegottickets.com/sct/GGdSv9WKyA

Sat 13th (matinee) http://www.wegottickets.com/sct/3BVXrUTMbg

Sat 13th   http://www.wegottickets.com/sct/jmRajhCkzP

 

Events!!!!

Scratch Night

Every 6 weeks we put on regular scratch nights where 6 short 15 min plays are put on but for new diverse writing, actors, directors etc… to get involved and finally create work. So every 6 weeks we would change the plays/ writers at the scratch night along with the actors and crew to get a good turnover of diverse professionals in the industry. Every scratch night will have a theme such as disability, race, sexuality, etc.. this is giving a plethora of experience, diverse story telling and that opportunity for a professional credit with a chance to showcase ourselves. Also this is building the platform for the festival.

The first scratch night for Actor Awareness took place at The Canal Cafe. A big thank you to Adam Morley yet again for his help. Many people made this night possible.

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Check out more photos a review at theblogoftheatrethings.com/2015/12/21/review-actor-awareness-scratch-night/

The night was so positive, Actor Awareness has been asked to come back in February to do another scratch night, would you like to be involved? I’m looking for 6 new 15 minute shows to put on in February at the Canal Theatre. There has been a huge out cry of various gender issues within our industry so I thought this theme would be perfect. So the next theme is “Women’s Night” the only 3 rules are…

1. Just women writers and directors can take part
2. Do not exceed 15 minutes
3. Submissions have to be in by the 24th of January
Interpretation of the theme is down to you, all you have to do is email your new bit of writing by the 24th to tomstocks0805@gmail.com how does that sound?
Writers Night– January 22nd
Venue- Theatre Deli @7pm-10pm
This evening is where people can come and share stories, stage or film. The way we run this workshop is by letting each person discuss or read some of their play or script for feedback. There will be some actors to help with the read outs. Host tbc.
With the writers night we want to help people develop stories (any genre) to generate new ideas and hopefully even progress stuff through to the scratch nights.
Pls email tanheartssteph@gmail.com for confirmation of a place