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My First Job: Jennie Buckman

Jennie Buckman. Photo: Michael Buckman Jennie Buckman. Photo: Michael Buckman
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My first job as an acting coach was at Rose Bruford. I’d just left Common Stock Theatre Company to ‘launch myself’ as a freelance director but found I was pregnant with twins. I already had a three-year old, so my directing career was nipped in the bud (thank goodness).

As far as I can recall, my first job grew out of standing in for someone else and discovering that I loved working with acting students. I did scene study on Chekhov and Shakespeare with them. Once I knew I wanted to work with actors (directing and teaching), I knew I had to learn from one of the best acting teachers. So I went to Saturday classes with the late, great Doreen Cannon. She invited me to be her assistant at RADA and so my big break happened. It’s all about standing on the shoulders of giants.

From that experience, I learned to trust great teachers and when working with actors, student or experienced, always to start from where they are at. Rather than saying, “You must do it this way” and making them jump through hoops, I hope to help them find their own best way into a role, and I learn with them. The only advice I have for would-be-trainers is: respect your actors. Don’t go into teaching if what you really want is to act yourself.

CV: Jennie Buckman

Age: Undisclosed
Training: I went to university, then did postgraduate teacher training. I taught in London comprehensives for eight years, which was the best preparation for teaching ever – as well as the toughest.
TV and radio writing credits (as a writer) include: More than 60 episodes of Westway for World Service. Eight radio plays for BBC and several stage plays. A TV treatment for my play SNAFU (Situation Normal All Fucked Up) is ‘out there’ – somewhere.
Theatre credits (as a playwright) include: For Giants theatre company: Pandora, SNAFU, FUBAR, Piece of Silk, Never Going to Beat You (joint project with women from the Traveller Movement UK).
Other credits: Currently artistic director of Giants. Previous work was at the National and as head of acting at RADA, where I took productions to the Royal Shakespeare Company. I’ve worked with Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago, and taught at other schools such as Guildhall, Rose Bruford, Guildford and drama schools in Greece.
Agent: Laura Rourke, Independent Talent Group

Jennie Buckman, acting coach and artistic director of Giants Theatre Company, was talking to John Byrne

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