How did you start off in theatre?
I started off as an actor when I was 11 years old and was in many theatre productions throughout my teenage years, including touring a play to Hungary in Hungarian. During this time, I devised a process for creating an authentic character, from which I developed the Playing It Gay guidelines for straight actors playing gay characters that are now used extensively across the industry.
What is your best advice for students?
Learn about the three mind-body types, as defined by Ayurveda. You are born with a unique ratio of these mind-body types, which define your appearance, the way you move, your posture, temperament, mannerisms, gestures and so much more. Learning about mind-body types will ensure you create an authentic character and understand how different mind-body types interact together.
What would you change about training?
I would encourage all training providers to provide specialised LGBT+ training. I believe the LGBT+ community thinks, feels and behaves differently: we have grown up in a heterosexual, cis-gendered world and the social conditioning we have experienced over the years has had a subconscious impact on how we show up in the world. As a result, we create masks we ‘wear’ to protect ourselves. Heterosexuals are largely unaware of that and the impact it has. They haven’t had to hide, censor and alter your behaviour, words or mannerisms to fit in and be accepted. This impacts on mental health and how you present yourself to your family, friends and colleagues.
Who should students look up to?
I am hugely inspired by the works of Antonin Artaud, Edward Gordon Craig, Adolphe Appia and Constantin Stanislavski.
What one skill should every theatre professional have?
To follow your intuition. Your intuition or inner voice is like a satnav. It is here to guide you. Listen to it and you will get to your destination via the quickest, easiest route. Ignore it and you will be down a dirt track, spinning your wheels, stuck in the mud.
Gina Battye is an LGBT+ authenticity adviser for TV, film and theatre. She was talking to John Byrne