How did you start off in theatre?
I trained at Guildford School of Acting and worked as an actor and director for 12 years.
How has your teaching been affected by the coronavirus pandemic?
On March 17, we had to close our doors due to Covid-19. This was mid-run for our third-year production of Little Shop of Horrors and mid-training for all other year groups. We have a three-year degree course as well as a two-year BTEC and a gap year. After lots of discussion between the heads of departments and the head of scheduling, we put together a trial week of a full-time online timetable including acting and voice lessons, practitioner studies, 1-1 singing, ballet, jazz, tap and music theory all delivered via Zoom. Each group has also had a tutorial session. The feedback we have received from students, staff and parents has been incredible, with emails of thanks each day.
What is the best part of your job?
There are so many positives, such as seeing students achieve things they didn’t even dream of and celebrating the work of the bright young actors. Also, the family network of staff I work with.
And your least favourite?
I suppose it could be that the brain hardly switches off from work. I’m always thinking of things to say or that need to be delivered.
Who are the practitioners you admire most/who should students be looking up to?
We cover a range of practitioners, some standouts are Katie Mitchell and the playwright Harold Pinter. I am a huge fan of his work.
What is the one skill that every successful theatre professional should have?
Patience (and a drive for detail).
What is your advice to students to meet the challenges of the current time?
Stay calm, stay focused, be adaptable. We will get through this. For all third years, your school and the industry will support you.
Jason Marc-Williams was talking to John Byrne