Tag Archives: interview

Actor? Student? Get involved in your university drama society

7 May

ADC Theatre – home of the Cambridge Footlights

Ah, your student days – a time to party hard, make great friends and eat too many baked beans. But also an ideal place to pursue an interest in acting and to experiment without the pressure of failing. Remember, you don’t have to be a drama student to join a drama society or appear in a play.

Harry Michell, an English student at Cambridge University, and president of Cambridge Footlights – a comedy and theatre society run by students – chats to us about why university is the perfect time to get involved. 

How did you get involved with drama and the drama societies at university?

I wanted to get involved in drama/comedy before I arrived at uni and have known for a while that it’s something I’d like to pursue in the future. There are so many ways to get involved here. I started by auditioning for lots of plays and directing the Freshers Show; my previous experience at school and at the Edinburgh Fringe meant I had a slight advantage to some freshers who were just trying out drama for the first time. However, there are so many opportunities here that the advantage was minimal.

Do you mainly act or direct?

I like to make sure I act, direct and write at least once at term, as well as writing and performing comedy every couple of weeks. I think there is no point closing potential doors when I enjoy doing all three, and each role informs how I approach the others.

Is getting involved in theatre at university a good way to break into the industry?

It can be a fantastic way. Obviously it’s a very difficult field to get into, and luck plays such a huge factor, but you learn an incredible amount in such a short space of time. You also come to understand exactly how a theatre works which is something you don’t necessarily get the chance to if you go straight to drama school. Having said that, I think it also depends on which element of theatre you’re planning on going into; most actors generally leave here and go to drama school, whereas comedians generally get signed up immediately.

What would you say to people who say they are too busy to join a society but still want to pursue an acting career?

Well, you do hear stories every now and then about people who didn’t do much when they were younger but then discover acting in their twenties/thirties, but acting/directing/writing is a craft, and generally without practise and development and enthusiasm from a younger age, how can you expect a career to come of it? Also, university is a time when you can experiment and make mistakes, if you do this in the ‘real world’ it could potentially jeopardise your career, so why not take advantage of the artistic freedom uni can give you?

Are there other benefits in getting involved?

Yes definitely; it keeps you going, gives you stuff to do other than work. You join a community with people who are like minded and share similar interests – it stops you from merely staying within your college/halls.

How would you recommend someone go about getting involved? 

Just be proactive. Audition for everything, apply for anything, write things. Every time you get turned down turn it into a positive. If you don’t get cast in anything, put on your own show. If you can’t get a theatre space, put on a show somewhere strange. Be creative, you’ll constantly be knocked back, and the successful ones are those who get back up immediately and try another route.

What would you say to people who are nervous/shy about approaching a society or club?

Just go for it. In all likelihood everybody else is as nervous as you are, and you’re probably just as talented. If you don’t try you’ll spend the rest of your days (slightly hyperbolic but still…) wishing that you did.

Have any of you had similar experiences to Harry? Are any of you hoping to get involved with a drama society? Get in touch below.

Image by James Bowe from Flickr via a CC Licence.

How to get acting work using social media

17 Nov

“I’ve only just started dipping my toe in the pool of social media, and it is absolutely incredible. It has opened up so many doors.” So said actress @LianeRoseBunce, who even found me through Twitter, making herself the perfect subject for a post on how to use social media as an actor.

 Bunce (right) has been a professional actress since 2006. She has tweeted 2,278 times as I write this, and is currently using Twitter as a main source of work. How?

 The story begins on a depressing, grisly day doing a depressing, grisly flyering job. Liane-Rose and her actress friend decided that, since work was scarce, “Let’s give ourselves work.”

 “We wrote and shot a 13-minute film called Lose Some Win Some, (@IllReputeFilms) and it’s become a success because of Twitter. It became Shooting People’s most viewed short on the Leaderboard. I’ve been offered work off the back of it – the next one is for a group called The Revolution is Real, in a short film. The director actually found most of his cast through Twitter.”

 But what about actors who aren’t going to just go off and write a film?

 “You don’t have to write a film, it’s about getting yourself out there. It’s no good sitting about hoping someone views your showreel – watch other people’s showreels, give feedback – above all, be part of the conversation, part of the debate.”

 The key, Bunce says, is getting to know people in the industry. Is nepotism the answer?

 “Here’s the thing about nepotism – look at it from the casting director’s point of view. They get letters constantly from actors begging them to take a chance on them. But why should they? If they turn up with a bunch of rubbish actors that looks terrible. They’re more likely to hire someone they know than to take a risk on someone they don’t.”

Bunce makes an admission that could be the secret to success in any walk of life, and especially in acting: what truly gets you work is energy over talent. “I’m not a good actor, I’ve never had a natural talent. I just work hard.”

Why actors should start looking locally

13 Nov

Actor Phoebe Gann tells us why she thinks working with local communities can really benefit young actors.

Phoebe Gann performing with Roughshod

Phoebe started out as many actors do, studying English and drama at University. After graduating she went straight into working with Riding Lights Theatre Company, based in York.

In 2011 she was offered a place with the community arm of Riding Lights, Roughshod. With four other young actors she devised a sketch show, which they then toured across the country for sixth months, performing in prisons, schools, churches, and for youth groups.

She feels that learning how to perform for different communities and audiences can really benefit actors.

“Because you’re performing in front of so many different types of audience, ranging from a group of old people in a little village church, to a group of teenagers in an inner-city school, you have to adapt the way that you perform. It teaches you to be quite versatile with the material that you’ve got.

I suppose if you’re on a big stage and the audience leaves, then you don’t get to connect with them in the same way, you don’t get to talk to them afterwards and find out what they thought.”

As part of Roughshod’s work, Phoebe also carried out acting workshops with different groups. A skill that she feels can really help actors to become more employable.

“I think that getting experience in leading workshops and working with community groups is really invaluable. As an actor you kind of need to be able to have more than one skill.

Because acting jobs are hard to find and you’re not necessarily always going to be in acting work, if you’ve got a whole bunch of practical skills that you can offer to people then that can be really appealing.

Being able to offer to run a confidence-building workshop or a drama-skills workshop can be really beneficial. It’s just more tools in your toolkit really, to give you that little bit of extra money or experience.”

Phoebe was recently offered a part in Riding Lights’ Christmas show, her third job for the company. Evidence that working hard and impressing a theatre company can really pay off.

What do you think? Is joining a local theatre company a good way of getting into the industry?

Photograph by Martin Duke

We want to know who YOU, lovely actors, would like us to interview

9 Nov