Events

Scratch Night

The LGBT scratch was a great success. A review was written up by @Londontheatre1 here http://www.londontheatre1.com/news/133679/actor-awareness-lgbt-scratch-night/

Big thanks to everyone in the LGBT for making it a success to all the writers, directors, actors, tech team and theatre involved. Time to make it happen again, this time at fab fringe venue in Balham, under the theme of health.

HEALTH NIGHT! Jeremy Hunt, George Osborne and David Cameron are casting a huge shadow on our health system, with ludicrous cuts the NHS, the junior doctors walkout and of course the recent disability cuts in the budget. In light of this, the next Actor Awareness scratch night theme is Health Night. The interpretation of the theme is down to you and an interesting subject to explore, all shows must be no more than 15 mins and the submission deadline is 30th of April.

This will take place at Theatre N16 on the 30th of May. All shows selected for the scratch night will then have the opportunity to develop the show into a full length piece and have a 2 night slot in Theatre N16 in August! So if your an actor, director or writer come get involved and send all submissions to Steph at tanheartssteph@gmail.com please read the rules and regulations before submitting here http://www.actorawareness.co.uk/p/scratch-nights.html

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ACTOR AWARENESS LAUNCH PARTY

LAUNCH

AUDITIONS! So Actor Awareness will be holding the official launch party/ fundraiser and we are looking for a variety of acts to perform in the night. Singers, dancers, comedians, magicians, sketch peices, any sort of act to take part in what promises to be an incredible night. Auditions will be held at The Canal Cafe on May 1st, if you would like to audition and be involved email tomstocks0805@gmail.com

We also have a great competition coming up with CCP so keep your eyes peeled.

Writer’s Nights

These will continue monthly. To be added to the mailing list for notification of time and place please email tanheartssteph@gmail.com. An informal sharing of ideas, plays (stage,film, tv , sketch or radio). Hosted by a guest writer each month. £8 for a session which runs 7-9.30pm. April TBC. Please follow @steffieegg12 for updates or join Actor Awareness group on Facebook.

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!!!!!!!!!!

Andrew Sharpe

goodnight

Andrew is a playwright and currently his play ‘GoodNight Polly Jones’ is running at Theatre N16, a place which champions new writers. The play runs Feb 1st – Feb 11th. get down there, fun guaranteed! Book at theatren16.co.uk

So Andrew how did you first start writing?
Through music. I met my longstanding creative partner Amy Kakoura when she joined our band, Steamchicken, and we formed a writing partnership. We went on to co-write the musical ‘Songs from a Ledge’. I had been playing with a novel for a couple of years before that (still am) but found when working with Amy that I enjoyed writing for the stage. GPJ is my first solo work, Amy and I continue to work together and hope to bring ‘My Celebrity Friend’ to London later in the year.

What excites you about putting pen to paper?
That’s the last part of the process. An idea comes from somewhere and I play about with it for ages in my head, often whilst out walking and equally often (to my shame) when I should be paying attention to friends and family. It’s normally based on some wrongness, something in the world that’s out of order and needs to be looked at in a different way. Characters form, often drawn from real life, and start arguing about who should get the happy ending. I get a real buzz when I eventually figure out what the plot is and how that story needs to be told to make everything fit better in our world. There is also a great feeling of achievement writing ‘FIN’ at the end of a page.

You have your play Good Night Polly Jones showing for a 2 week run at N16 Theatre in London from1st Feb for 2 weeks, firstly well done, secondly how did you come to work with N16?
Thank you! I’m a real twitter tart and am constantly seeking out new contacts and opportunities, I’ll see anybody interesting for a coffee and a chat. Jamie agreed to meet with me just as he was setting up in Balham. We seemed to hit it off straight away, he’s passionate about what he does but very straightforward and easy to deal with. We’re both newish in the industry and are learning together.

What is Goodnight Polly about? When did you get the idea for this play?
It’s entirely fictional, but as with all of my work, draws on many characters and situations I saw working as a lawyer, the human interest stuff that’s often left out of the court papers and reports. The play is set around an incident of sexual assault in the workplace of the sort that frequently goes unreported and unprosecuted. It deals firstly with the immediate aftermath, and then we see Peter and Polly five years later as he struggles with remorse. I hope it adds positively to the dialogue around an important and ever topical subject.

You have quite a few other written pieces in development, how do you go about finding people to develop your work, can you give advice to new writers with work that are seeking collaboration?
Writers should write, read, watch plays and movies, write and then write more. Then share your writing by drafting reviews, letters to the local paper, going to writing circles, adult education courses and looking for other emerging professionals (actors, directors, theatre makers) at an appropriate level. Twitter is great for this. Your work is not likely to be polished enough to engage the literary department of a major theatre just yet, but there are dozens of scratch nights, new writing nights and workshops. Once you’ve got your first feedback be prepared to re-write everything you’ve ever written. I would highly recommend Sheer Drop and their scriptwriting service, excellent value. So & So Arts club is also worth seeking out. If working direct with a cast, get a director first and be prepared to buy the cakes.

What one piece of advice would you give to writers starting out?
Are you writing for yourself or for other people? Writing for yourself is fine. If you’re writing for other people that feeling of utter panic and crippling self-doubt when they start talking about your work is normal, don’t be put off. Listen to what they say, try not to let your tears blur your notes, go away and do it better.

What do you love about theatre?
I’m presently fascinated by the production and staging of other works, seeking to learn when conceptualising my own work. It has a unique power and grace, an ability to transform quite unlike other media. And proper endings.

Why do you think theatre is important? 
Change and healing flowing from a story. A community has physically come together to share that idea and all, cast and audience alike, need to be engaged and changed by the performance, becoming incrementally more thoughtful. We need to be rigorous with quality, vision and delivery to fulfil that contract.

Do you feel certain restrictions within the industry? What would you like to see more of?
Although there are perceived barriers to entry I’ve found it pretty open to determined new entrants. There is considerable use of networks and word of mouth, which can appear discriminatory. There are issues concerning the financial rewards at entry level, mainly because the public are unable and/or unwilling to afford to pay a commercial price for drama in small-venues, and too often that is reflected in the poor quality of the work (music suffers even more so from this ailment). Many creatives are forced to take a second job outside theatre and forgo a personal life. I think there’s a broad political consensus that average salaries need to rise, so that demand/spending in general and on the arts coincidentally can rise, and we need to match that with better quality and more developed works. I’d be interested in talking to/working with Actor Awareness about difficulties and barriers perceived by many social groups often defined as excluded, the role of secondary education and the lack of social mobility within society generally.

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

Question time

This section is for any questions that you guys might have a burning desire to ask…

Charlie and I will endeavour to get them answered for you or help you to find out what you want/need to know…

John Byrne is a performing careers advisor, for the last 20 years he has coached over 1000 performers in varied fields from musical theatre, acting to comedy. He is offering you discount on one to one sessions. Sessions normally cost £50, in person or via Sypke, if you quote Actor Awareness he is offering a session for £20. http://ow.ly/NRxOH

Finally I thought I’d leave you with a quote that really inspires me…

‘To see the world in a grand of sand, and to see heaven in a flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in a hour,’

This particular quote always reminds me that as an artist, or an actor, that one has to see THAT something that others don’t and try to transform it into something beautiful, entertaining and inspiring; allowing you to transform  the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Scratch Night

Actor Awareness is all about finding talent that hasn’t had the chance or opportunity of finding its way to a stage or screen to show the world their story.

Several plans are in action to get people’s stories heard, scratch nights are something that is awesome for new writers and actors to be part of so they can grow their ideas, have a platform and get feedback.

The first scratch night is being held at The Canal café, this alone is awesome. Here at Actor Awareness we are fortunate to have the theatre interested in giving us space so the first night can forge forward. So if you are a budding writer with material that you feel you want to get feedback on, send your submissions into tomstocks0805@gmail.com or actorawareness@gmail,com. Submissions for December’s scratch night are till 7th November, the theme is working class.

The night will be 15 minutes slot for each act and at the end there will be chance for feedback from the audience, you can stick around after for a drink at the bar for more questions or praise ! In your submissions send your script, any props or stage set up that you would require, the more basic the better, but if you have something you think can work don’t be put off, but do look online at the space so you know what you’re working with.

http://www.canalcafetheatre.com

Get submitting!!!!