How did you start off in theatre?
As an actor and then a director, the transition was made, as I guess is often the case, by a desire to tell stories.
What is the best piece of advice you have for acting students today?
Be yourself and don’t try to conform to what you perceive to be right. There is no such thing as right. The arts are by definition subjective. Embrace that and allow yourself the freedom to celebrate whatever your difference may be.
Individuality and personality are often lost due to an applicant or student’s attempts to fit in
What would you change about drama training in the UK?
The mystification of what being an actor is. Individuality and personality are often lost due to an applicant or student’s attempts to fit in to what is often, quite rightly, perceived to be an exclusive club. There is often a heartbreakingly apologetic approach to auditioning for drama schools because people don’t feel they belong, much like young people avoiding the theatre or the art gallery. The arts are for everyone. We want to see you and be excited by you, because you are enough.
What is the best part of your job?
Seeing actors in training evolve into professionals.
And your least favourite?
Admin and bureaucracy. Paperwork, to someone who wants to be nowhere other than a rehearsal room, is like water to cats.
Who are the practitioners you admire the most/who should students be looking up to?
We have a Pina Bausch quote on a wall in our building: “I’m not interested in the way people move, but what moves them.” This is not only a mantra for our training but for life. Also, Sanford Meisner is inspiring. Acting is simple – it is about humanity and all we really need to do is observe that and be present enough to respond with truth.
What is the one skill that every successful actor should have?
The ability to play and take risks.
Steven Green (@kafkasmonkey) was talking to John Byrne