Acting teacher Emma Catherine Robinson: ‘Know yourself and find your niche in the market’
Which organisations have you taught at?
Bird College and Italia Conti Arts Centre. Before that, I worked as a teacher in formal education.
How did you start off in theatre?
I was cast in my year 7 school musical, which gave me an early introduction to the ups and downs of the business – not least because the part I was supposed to play was mistakenly given to my friend because they spelled my last name wrong. I then joined a part-time drama school. My first performance professionally was a pantomime when I was 18. I trained at Central School of Speech and Drama, and then Moscow Art Theatre and American Repertory Theater in America.
What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?
Enjoy performing, be disciplined and understand performing as an industry.
What would you change about drama training in the UK?
I’d either cut the costs or increase the funding.
What is the best part of your job?
Facilitating opportunities to create, unlocking skills and witnessing talent developing.
And your least favourite?
Having to limit lesson lengths. One set of rules doesn’t always fit when you are working with individuals. Sometimes you hit upon genius moments and then have to stop at the end of the lesson. I could work creatively all day, but even within lesson lengths I always work to enable performers to be individual.
Who are the practitioners you admire the most? Who should students look up to?
Michael Chekhov as a practitioner works for me, but every performer is different so it’s about finding what works for you.
What is the one skill that every successful theatre professional should have?
Know yourself, own it, and find your niche in the market.
Emma Catherine Robinson was talking to John Byrne