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Acting coach Dee Cannon: ‘It’s essential to be an all-round actor’

Dee Cannon. Photo: Julia Benjamin Dee Cannon. Photo: Julia Benjamin
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How did you start in theatre?

I have been around the acting profession since I was very young, watching my mother (the late) Doreen Cannon teach and direct at the Drama Centre London where she was head of acting for 20 years. I was always fascinated by the acting process and absorbed a lot of insight before I dipped my own toe in the water.

You’re an athlete – always keep your acting muscles limber

What is the best piece of advice you have for acting students today?

Make sure you have a strong skill set behind you. Know your craft inside out. Imagine you’re an athlete – always having to keep your acting muscles limber.

What would you change about acting training in the UK?

More classes in audition technique for TV and film. Also the art of self-taping, which is a fairly new phenomenon, but essential for any actor entering the business. I believe that, outside of auditioning for drama school, monologues are redundant. It is all about knowing how to work on sides (audition scenes) and be proficient approaching them.

What is the best part of your job?

Working with actors from all over the world and travelling to different countries. I feel privileged to work with so many diverse cultures, which I find both challenging and invigorating.

And your least favourite?

Meeting students who tell me they “just want a career in film and TV” and ask how they can get an agent without having trained, read an acting book or showed any interest in the culture of theatre.

Who are the practitioners you admire the most or who should students look up to?

Uta Hagen and Stella Adler. They draw from the practical side of Stanislavski and although they are no longer with us, they’ve left their legacy.

What is the one skill that every successful actor should have?

Knowing how to make informed choices and how to nail self-tapes.

Is it important for actors to study theatre, even if they want a screen career? Unequivocally, yes. It’s essential to be an all-round actor.

Dee Cannon was talking to John Byrne

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