The Benefits of Training: The Bigger Picture
April 30th, 2019
The subject of Drama School training is a readily discussed one. Is it worth it? Isn’t it just too expensive? What do I actually get from it?
I graduated in 2005 and so I imagine the answers to these questions may have differed somewhat, however, my experience of training was a positive one but, moreover, with the power of hindsight I’m able to see that the skills it taught me have enabled me to take my career much further than just that of being an actor. Don’t get me wrong, being an actor is still very much my job and something I both actively pursue and undertake regularly, however, alongside this, I am now a director, producer and an artistic director of my own venue in Manchester.
My training on the Italia Conti BA (Hons) Acting course did not have specific modules for ‘budget management’, ‘ACE Applications’ and/or ‘lighting your show’ classes, but it did immerse me in the world that I was entering totally. By this I mean I was exposed not just to a text and the ways of delivering it, but it opened my eyes to the profession as a whole. It allowed me to understand the intricacies of production, that my role as an actor was, in effect, minute and that the possibilities of work outside of just acting were not just present, but, in fact, a sure-fire way of allowing me to actually continue in a very tricky business.
It was, as I’m sure it is everywhere, driven into us that work doesn’t just fall on your lap (not unless you’re incredible fortunate!). Yeah, we all sat there and thought ‘but I’m different. I’ll be ok!’ - a perfectly normal mentality when existing in the bubble world that drama school creates. However, it was my training that night on forced me to engage with the prospects of having to make my own work, enjoying it, managing it and just how responsible we are to ensure that we do this and maintain the industry. It is changing daily. We are no longer in a profession with a linear progression from a training to our West End debut and then perhaps a film. Indeed, the industry demands far less of actors or those that call themselves actors, today, than it ever has done before. Quality control is, sadly, no longer a worry for many producers. Instead, bums on seats, a ‘face’ on stage or a PR story that entices an audience to watch those often untrained actors deliver mediocre work to rapturous applause. It was and still is this issue that drives me to create work, perform work and provide a platform for work that does exactly the opposite. Without my training, not only would I have not been exposed to these individual elements and the skills needed to nurture a passion in them, I would not have the drive that keeps me moving forward in an attempt to curate and deliver quality work, support properly trained artists and strive to maintain a quality across the platform known as ‘The Arts’.
My training gave me some wonderful projection and the ability to physically characterise. It showed me how to behave on set, it taught me how to mine a script for information and the difference between Meisner and Stanislavski (arguably not much but that’s a different discussion!). My training also taught me about the industry, the importance to keep it undiluted and protect a work that is a profession stretching back hundreds and even thousands of years. Without the depth of my training, I would now simply be a struggling actor and not (albeit a small one) an influence in my city of Manchester for the scene as a whole.