How did you start in theatre?
I was a very shy child and acting helped me find my voice.
What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?
Be curious and do your homework. All good actors need to be detectives: read the script thoroughly, look for clues and be specific with your choices.
What would you change about UK training?
It needs to be made more accessible in terms of location and affordability. Changes are finally being made, but there is a long way to go. The industry still orbits around London. I would like to see the same quality and variety of opportunities made available in regional areas. I would also look at ways of continuing to support students beyond graduation as navigating the industry can be especially hard in the first year out of training. I think schools can put in place more support.
What is the best part of your job?
Helping actors to surprise themselves.
And your least favourite?
Not knowing what’s next.
Who are the practitioners you admire the most/who should students look up to?
Simple and creative storytellers, those making their own work, the risk takers and those who seek to challenge and change.
What is the one skill that every successful theatre professional should have?
Openness – to new ideas and to one another. It is only through openness and trust that we can take risks.
Why is training valuable?
Training shouldn’t stop with the end of a course. We can never know it all – keep seeking opportunities to learn and develop your craft.
Sarah-Jayne Butler has worked as an acting coach for studios including Universal, Disney and Fox Searchlight, among others. She was speaking to John Byrne