Arts Educational Schools’ Gareth Farr: How to train for an ever-changing industry
The constantly developing nature of acting requires tuition that follows suit, says Gareth Farr, director of the School of Acting at ArtsEd…
The acting industry has changed dramatically over the past 10 years and there is every suggestion that it will continue to do so. As an institution that trains students for this profession, it is imperative that ArtsEd keeps its finger on the pulse and keeps the training as relevant as possible. Below are just a few ways in which we are training our students to feel prepared, ready and completely able to work confidently in all aspects of an ever-changing industry. Our training is 50% stage and 50% screen, and as a result we have to keep abreast of all aspects of these very exciting but evolving mediums.
TV and film
This is the area of the industry that has changed the most in recent years. The way in which programmes and films are shot and made is continuing to develop year on year. We have a multi-camera TV studio on site and our students are lucky enough to be training for screen work from day one. This has been carefully worked into the timetable so that our students still receive an intensive training in all key areas of actor training, but to have the skills and confidence to work on screen is vital in today’s industry.
Self-taping is a very recent development in auditioning. It is important to understand how this technique can work for you. Not being phased by the prospect of auditioning for something very important, while filming it on your phone is a skill that all actors are faced with. We run classes in interview technique that include self-taping to give students the confidence of working in this new and rapidly expanding form of auditioning.
To feel like an equal in a rehearsal room that may include actors and directors who have a lot of experience can be very difficult. Building confidence to be able to contribute is vital. For this reason it’s important to stay informed. Knowing what is being produced by which companies is a key part of the job. Constantly seeing, reading about and forming opinions of all aspects of the acting industry is key in order to contribute confidently to conversations.
The actor as collaborator
I feel that it is important for actors to be collaborators in a process, so we have put a lot of time into developing a new writing strand to the ArtsEd training that sees high-profile writers come in to work with and build relationships with our students. They run classes over a period of around 18 months, which culminate in a new play, written specifically for our third-years. The students actively contribute to the development of these plays, gaining insight into the writer’s process but also using their creative skills to have a more invested connection to the piece. Philip Ridley, Roy Williams, Deborah Bruce and Brad Birch are just some of the writers that our students spend extended periods of time working with and getting to know.
What makes you, you
I am interested in and excited by working with a wide range of individuals. I ask my students to consider the creative potential of you and how you can influence the work that you do. I don’t want our students to be merely part of this industry, I want them to change it and that requires a solid understanding of what it is that you want to be. Actors are creative artists and we encourage personal reflection and individual ambition alongside generosity within a group dynamic so that our students feel empowered to work in and influence an ever-changing industry.
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