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Guildhall’s Lopa Sarkar: ‘See yourself as your own brand’

Lopa Sarkar Lopa Sarkar
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How did you start off in theatre?
I am a dancer and then became a choreographer and artistic director for my own performing arts company. This led to collaborations and projects that have also included acting.

What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?
See yourself as your own brand.

What would you change about UK training?
I want to see more diversity in the people who are creating and teaching programmes, curriculums, courses and workshops. I want to see more representation at the senior level of arts organisations and in the people on stage/film/TV/radio all the way down to the students in the training programmes and in the young people and community members in the outreach programmes.

What is the best part of your job?
Working on a diverse range of programmes with partner organisations, which all bring different ideas to our projects. For instance, the enterprise team at Guildhall offers accredited courses in coaching and mentoring. We also have a short courses programme, where anyone can come and experience acting, singing, music and production arts with Guildhall tutors.

And your least favourite?
Due to lack of resources, we have to pick which should move forward. Sometimes it’s hard to choose which to leave behind.

Who are the practitioners you admire the most/who should students be looking up to?
In the dance world, I love Akram Khan. He was a classical Indian dancer, but has forged a career that has included choreographing the Olympic Games opening ceremony and the English National Ballet’s staging of Giselle.

What is the one skill that every successful theatre professional should have?
An understanding of business and marketing.

Do you have a favourite quote about the performing life?
“Sometimes a suitcase full of clothes and a dream is all you really need.”

Lopa Sarkar is head of enterprise at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She was talking to John Byrne

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