Movement director Polly Bennett: ‘We asked our friends to donate a play – the library now has 3,000’

Polly Bennett. Photo: Helen Murray Polly Bennett. Photo: Helen Murray

Polly Bennett co-founded support organisation the Mono Box. She tells John Byrne about her work…

How did the Mono Box start?

My friend Joan Iyiola didn’t feel there was anywhere providing what we needed on first entering the industry: access to plays we couldn’t afford to buy or advice from people we couldn’t reach. We turned to friends and asked them to donate a play. The Mono Box now has a library of 3,000 including donations from Judi Dench, David Tennant and Caryl Churchill, all containing personal notes and advice.

What is your best piece of advice for acting students today?

For most, acting will not be a full-time occupation. Having different creative outlets can fill your time and fuel your inspiration.

What would you change about drama training in the UK?

I’d like to see more training that promotes and accelerates actors to create work that reflects themselves as artists rather than identifying only as actors.

What is the best part of your job?

Seeing participants at the Mono Box help each other out by recommending plays or talking after workshops. Theatre is about the people you make it with and make it for.

And your least favourite?

Funding applications and 5am email sessions to keep the project going.

What one skill should every successful actor have?

Practice. Musicians and bricklayers practise every day, but actors seem to be resistant to it.

The Mono Box ethos is affordable training. Can you give an example?

Our monthly Speech Surgeries are cheap (£10-£15) and open to everyone: you’ll meet people you can work with in future, find plays to read in a group and strike up friendships that will encourage you to keep going.

The Mono Box is running a Total Theatre Week at Lyric Hammersmith and Old Vic Workrooms until October 29