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Head of drama at St Mary’s Mark Griffin: ‘Stay on top of new skills – theatre moves fast’

Mark Griffin. Photo: Sarah McKenna Ayres Mark Griffin. Photo: Sarah McKenna Ayres
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How did you start off in theatre?
A sympathetic teacher encouraged me to apply for the National Youth Theatre.

What is your best advice for students?
Stay curious. There are lots of skills to learn and knowledge to absorb, but the theatre moves fast and new ideas emerge all the time.

What would you change about UK training?
International collaboration, so that graduating students feel confident to work anywhere in the world. There’s so much exciting work going on beyond the UK and Europe. We can do more to create the right environment so that students who have traditionally been marginalised know they are shaping the future. If we stay committed to removing remaining barriers around geography, culture in the broadest sense, and finance, untold new possibilities will open up.

What is the best part of your job?
Seeing graduates pick up good jobs. It’s also great when they come back to teach or share their stories with us.

And your least favourite?
The numbing feeling when students are asked to support a corporate or institutional event for no remuneration. The ‘It’ll look good on the CV…’ argument.

Who should students be looking up to?
There are so many brilliant people working in the profession. See everything, read everything, and explore those whose work seems most vital to you.

What are your tips for choosing a good theatre technical course?
Look for programmes that can offer you flexibility and, if possible, design as well as technical training. It’s a creative as well as a practical art, and there are so many more job opportunities if you’re comfortable in a range of roles. Make sure industry professionals are involved in the delivery, and check to see if there are opportunities to crew on shows beyond the institution.

Mark Griffin is head of drama at St Mary’s, Twickenham. He was talking to John Byrne

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