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Julia Cranney, Pennyworth Productions: ‘It’s never too soon to start telling your stories’

Julia Cranney. Photo: Chris Mann
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How did you start off in theatre?

I was training with Carys Wright at Drama Studio London. We knew our passion lay in writing so we entered Drama UK’s Scottish Daily Mail Award with my play Empty Beds. We won and took it to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016.

What is your best advice for drama students?

The industry can make actors feel powerless and like they have no agency over their career. It’s never too soon to start telling your stories and theatre needs to hear them. Contact scratch nights to start and meet potential collaborators. Try to find a ‘money job’ that doesn’t make you want to cry.

What would you change about actor training in the UK?

More emphasis on the producing skills actors need to create work independently. We’d like everyone graduating to have been given the opportunity to learn how to pitch a show, manage a budget and approach a theatre.

What is the best part of your job?

Seeing work connect with audiences. Our aim is to “use new writing to challenge old ideas”.

And your least favourite?

Admin. There’s so much admin. It never ends.

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

Matthew Parker at the Hope Theatre is doing great things and making it possible for small companies to produce fringe theatre. Damsel Productions is paving the way for women in the industry. DryWrite continues to make work that makes my heart sing.

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

The ability to laugh at themselves. We take ourselves too seriously at times. It’s nice to break that up with a big cackle.

Julia Cranney was talking to John Byrne. Pennyworth Productions curates bimonthly scratch nights at London’s Arcola Theatre and around the UK with the aim of encouraging and supporting new writing and production. Julia Cranney is also the author of Moments and Empty Beds, playing at the Hope Theatre, London, until February 17


Moments/Empty Beds review at Hope Theatre, London – ‘truthfulness and intimacy’

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