Sunday, 23 October 2011

On the run...

This is a bit of a trial run for use of a mobile blogging app for the old i-Phone. We might use this for posting entries during rehearsals or out and about.

A proper post will follow soon with some more news about the latest Paper Zoo production; William Shakespeare's "The Tempest"

Meet you back here soon.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Training Actors to Do It Yourself.

There was a very interesting and thought-provoking piece on the Guardian Stage blog today that asked

"Are drama schools training actors for real life?"

The author discussed how actor training at many of the big drama schools has not really changed over the last thirty years whilst the landscape that young actors find themselves in on graduation has moved on, and not always in a positive way. The quality of the training, and the amount of effort that trainees have to put in, is not in question; but rather whether the drama schools are providing the right kind of guidance in how to create your own work. Actors leaving drama school nowadays do not have the opportunity of sharpening their skills in repertory companies up and down the country, TV work is harder to come by despite the proliferation of digital channels, and anyway, many of the jobs are going to so-called celebrities of reality television, and financial pressures are preventing many of the big producers from taking risks.

Young (and not so young) actors need to be given the skills and confidence to get out there and become the producers of the work. This is a piece of advice that my esteemed tutor at Middlesex University, Huw Thomas, used to drill into us:

"Don't wait for the work to come to you - make your own work!"

and many of us have gone on to do just that. A fine example of this attitude is the sterling work being done by Steve Green and Fourth Monkey Theatre Company who are embarking on their first rep season in London, and stormed the Edinburgh Festival in 2010 with their brilliant production of 'A Clockwork Orange'. Also seen at the Fringe and currently out there making some of the most magical theatre are Derby-based Maison Foo, touring the moving and magnificent 'Memoirs of a Biscuit Tin' throughout the autumn.

Paper Zoo came out of the same impulse; the desire to create our own work, to give new talent the opportunity to gain real industry experience. I now drill the same phrases into my students in the hope that they will take up the creative challenge. I am glad to read that other practitioners are saying similar things. We need drama schools to train the next generation of professional performers - they contribute so much to the country's cultural economy - but we also need them to teach some DIY too!