How did you start off in performance?
I started at my local drama group, the Little Theatre in Nairn. I took part in pantomimes initially, then youth theatre productions with Theatre FX in Inverness, as well as taking LAMDA exams. At the time, drama wasn’t on the school curriculum so I did Saturday classes through the college. I intended to continue on studying but at 17, I wasn’t ready. I worked in IT for years before going to university to get my acting degree.
What is your best advice for students?
If you want it, go and get it. No one will hand it to you on a plate. Be disciplined, always ask questions, and take the time to listen to people. Never stop learning.
What would you change about training in the UK?
More programmes supporting new directors and producers, particularly in more rural locations to enhance creative communities.
What is the best part of your job?
Watching students develop in their practice. I love the lightbulb moment when something just clicks for them.
And your least favourite?
When students are lazy – not doing the work or not being on time.
Which practitioners do you admire most?
Joe Douglas, Zinnie Harris, Grid Iron Theatre, Morna Pearson, Dogstar Theatre – the list goes on. There are so many wonderfully talented people out there.
What one skill should every successful theatre professional have?
Resilience. Being able to keep fighting for what you want regardless of the obstacles in your way takes an inner strength that is absolutely a must have skill.
What can students do to get started in their careers?
Get out there and meet people in the industry – and before you do, know that coffee is currency.
Steph Smart is lecturer of drama and performance at Inverness College, University of the Highlands and Islands. She was talking to John Byrne