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Sarah Frankcom: ‘I will find radical ways to make drama training more relevant’

Sarah Frankcom. Photo: Johan Persson.
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Sarah Frankcom has called for “galvanised change” to make theatre more diverse and accessible, claiming drama schools should be the “engine room” for helping that to happen.

She was speaking to The Stage as it was announced she would be leaving the Royal Exchange in Manchester later this year to take up the role of director of drama school LAMDA.

She said she would also be looking at “radical solutions” to how drama training can be made more relevant.

“There is hugely exciting and brilliant work being done across the sector but there is also a need for real, galvanised change and some of the challenges are really wide – they are about the industry that drama training is supporting,” she said.

She added that drama schools could be the “engine room” for “exploring notions of different kinds of work and what the repertoire might be”.

“Drama schools are way more representative, but what are the students appearing in? What texts are they working with? It’s an opportunity to say they have to be completely different. I am really excited about unlocking some of the potential that is here and finding radical solutions to how we create relevant training for more people from a wider variety of backgrounds,” she said.

Frankcom said that, as there is less emphasis on the arts in schools, drama schools “need to make their presence felt and engage more directly with secondary schools and young people across the country”.

The director also addressed audition fees, and described them as “complex”.

“There are a lot of people who audition who can afford to pay the audition fee and by them paying it a school generates income to offer bursaries, scholarships and assisted places. It’s complex but something I will turn my attention to very quickly,” she said.

Frankcom said she would continue to direct on a freelance basis, and added she would continue to work with Maxine Peake, having collaborated with her on shows such as Hamlet and Happy Days at the Royal Exchange.

She said people could “expect to see a wider variety of industry professionals” working at LAMDA when she takes up the post later this year.

Royal Exchange artistic director Sarah Frankcom to leave after 21 years for top LAMDA job

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