How did you start off in theatre?
As a working-class artist from the suburbs of Liverpool, I had no idea how to start off. Drama school was too expensive and the risk of doing this instead of a ‘proper degree’ was prohibitive. In the end, I started my own company, ’Til This Night, using my student loan to finance it, and hoped to learn as I went.
What is your best advice for students?
Live in the real world. University and drama school are great but be aware of the bubble. You absolutely should go and get life experience and a normal job before you train: it gives perspective.
What would you change about training in the UK?
Why do we still operate financially prohibitive audition systems for prospective drama school students? Technology is good enough for us to run Skype first-round auditions. Perhaps drama schools could follow this up by assisting more diverse students to visit the school.
What is the best part of your job?
Being in control of my own creative decisions for myself and my career.
And your least favourite?
There is a lot of misconception in the untrained sector. People tend to want the world without the work. There is a discipline and work ethic that formal training is great for.
Which practitioners should students look up to?
The Diversity School Initiative and the Identity School of Acting need to be on everyone’s radar. They are pushing for a tangible, meaningful change in perceptions of who can access theatre and how training is delivered.
What one skill should every successful theatre professional have?
Versatility. Don’t make excuses and don’t copy trends. Aim to set them.
What is your view about the London/regional divide in the arts?
London artists need to experience the regions, and the regions must have accessible routes into the capital. Some of the best theatre I’ve seen has been outside London.