The Stage Scholarships 2014: Fourth Monkey Theatre Company

Daniel Chrisostomou as Joseph Merrick in Fourth Monkey's Elephant Man at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Photo: Paul Seaby
Daniel Chrisostomou as Joseph Merrick in Fourth Monkey's Elephant Man at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Photo: Paul Seaby

If the conventional drama school route doesn’t turn out to be the right fit for you, that doesn’t mean there isn’t alternative training on offer through The Stage Scholarships scheme, thanks to the involvement of a brand new partner for 2014, Fourth Monkey Theatre Company.

Not a conservatoire-style approach this, but an opportunity to pursue a two-year rep programme that strives to offer forward-thinking actor training relevant to the performing arts industry today. With two half-scholarships up for grabs (worth a total of £15,900), this is your chance to blaze your trail in the industry by being part of a full-time repertory theatre company working in the UK and overseas.

As well as being part of Fourth Monkey’s regular season at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, students also travel to Italy for a month-long residential training period under the tutorship of Antonio Fava from Commedia dell’Arte. The company provides all travel and accommodation, included in the student fees.

With a strong emphasis on physical theatre, the course trains a company of actors – currently ranging in age from 18 to 30-plus – in a variety of disciplines, from stage combat to puppetry and Shakespeare to circus, over two full years. The company of actors delivers four seasons of work in repertory throughout their training, partnering with the likes of Told by an Idiot, Complicite, Jacksons Lane and Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre.

Underpinning the whole approach is the creation of a strong ensemble made up of artists versatile enough to work as actors as well as theatremakers in their own right.

Fourth Monkey artistic director Steve Green explains: “We want our training to have a contemporary resonance for what the industry requires now, and for our actors to be industry-ready, but the training also encourages them to develop the knowledge and ability to create work themselves.

“Within the course we work on short, original pieces for a festival. The actors pitch their ideas, devising them in small groups, creating and producing them, all the time being supported by industry professionals. Then one is selected for forward development when they graduate. We are taking one of these pieces to Edinburgh this year, and Fourth Monkey will hand over a £1,000 investment to support the performers. After Edinburgh, we may help them to develop that further as co-producers.”

Green is always looking for professional opportunities in the projects taken on by the two-year rep students. These currently include a rep season of three Christopher Marlowe plays being presented, appropriately, in association with the Marlowe Theatre and, later on in the year, a collection of contemporary pieces at Jacksons Lane, the Fourth Monkey Company’s London headquarters.

As a young actor, Green worked with Derek Jacobi and their conversations about performing in repertory theatre inspired him. “When actors are switching from one rehearsal to another, keeping two or three pieces up in the air, they aren’t held back, they’re allowed to make mistakes,” he says. “It’s amazing how the experience so quickly influences the way they apply themselves, their stamina, and their adaptability to different ways of working.”

Those performers on the course who relish the system and commit to the intensive schedule of 40 hours or more a week also have the chance to join the Fourth Monkey Ensemble, a professional touring company borne out of the actors in training and made up exclusively of course graduates. Green adds: “Several of our actors will find work of their own, but they may also find employment through our ensemble to tour a production. We hope to add to the company with each graduating year.”

Green is happy that, through The Stage Scholarships scheme, the Fourth Monkey training will be more accessible: “Theatre appears such an elitist world at times, it’s really important to open that door to those individuals and such a pleasure to see that happen.”

Does this sound like the kind of alternative training you were looking for? Then look below here for more details. Click here to go straight to the website and apply.

Photo: Sebastian Deheson
Photo: Sebastian Deheson