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Drama training tips: Rachel De-lahay

Rachel De-lahay. Photo: Jo Irvine Rachel De-lahay. Photo: Jo Irvine
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Playwright Rachel De-lahay, 30, trained as an actor with National Youth Theatre, LAMDA and ALRA. After drama school she started looking into playwriting and, almost by accident, found a course on the Royal Court website. Finishing the course resulted in the completion of her first play, The Westbridge which the Royal Court then produced. That was followed by Routes, another Royal Court play. Circles opened at the Birmingham Rep before it transferred to the Tricycle in London. “All this proved useful when this year I co-created, co-wrote, co-produced and starred in an online BBC film, The Last Hours of Laura K,” she says. Here are her training tips…

1. Enjoy your training

You’re three years away from industry scrutiny. Use this safe space to play and take risks and fail in private. Alongside that, make brilliant friendships and relationships. Do it all. You never really get another time like it.

2. Don’t be too ‘in the bubble’

Three years flies by. Always keep one eye on the outside world, watching and reading everything you can. You’ll start to build up a list of potential future collaborators – favourite directors, designers and playwrights that are different from the expected top 10. The recent BBC online film The Last Hours of Laura K was co-created, co-produced and co-written with three other peers whose work I’d got to know very well over the years. This resulted, when collaborating, in a brilliant shorthand and a knowledge of each others strengths, which sped up the project from development to production.

3. Be yourself

Learn accents and movement so you can change and have variety but never lose the core of who you are. If you slouch or have a lisp, embrace it. There are already too many non-slouchers auditioning anyway. And if you’re good, but not right, it wasn’t meant to be. But you will be remembered. Or, as I’ve had to do for several brilliant actors who weren’t quite right, the part might be changed to suit you.

4. Don’t be totally reliant on an agent

If you get an agent, don’t wait for them to call you. There are many brilliant people making work themselves, from Jessie Cave to Meera Syal to Lena Dunham, and they prove that these relationships should be two way. You’re working just as hard if not harder than the agent is. After all, it’s your career. And even if you feel that honing another skill isn’t for you, that doesn’t mean you can’t still be super hard working. Keep up to date on all future projects being made. Watch theatre, film, read press releases, everything. Don’t wait by the phone and then be shocked Steve McQueen is developing a new series you might be suitable for. You should already know and be prepared.

5. Scrap all this advice and do it your way

Only you know exactly what’s right for you. And taking risks that others wouldn’t is what makes you unique and gets you where you need to be. You’re an artist now. Be original.

The Stage Training

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