Our class of 2021 really are something to shout about. They’ve overcome challenges, helped others, grasped opportunities and developed their skills, showing their Essex Spirit in so many ways. And they’ve done it all during a pandemic when student life has been changed beyond recognition. We couldn’t be prouder of them so we’re telling their stories.
Wed 14 Jul 21
Jake Macpherson has always wanted to work in theatre and now, with a prestigious East 15 Acting School award under his belt and experience in a hit London show, he’s well on his way to a career in stage management.
“East 15 has an incredible training programme,” said Jake, who is graduating with a BA Stage and Production Management.
He was attracted to the School by its offer of practical learning with theatre professionals from as early as the first year. At most drama schools, he said, “you don’t start working on public performances till quite late into your degree.”
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Jake was able to complete a placement working on the new musical, You are Here, at the Southwark Playhouse, written by the duo behind the UK touring production of Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
As the only Assistant Stage Manager on the production, he worked closely with the creative team, sourcing, making and maintaining props – no easy feat when Covid-19 restrictions required new stage rules.
“The biggest challenge would have been working in a Covid world. Much like the rest of the theatre community we are all having to adapt the way in which we work,” he said.
For instance, on You are Here, “a lot of the cast drank from the same style glasses during the show. Ordinarily this wouldn’t have been a problem. We had to ensure that all glasses were discretely colour coded so that each actor got their same glass each time to avoid mixing,” Jake added.
"It was obviously a complete honour to win the Lillian Baylis award. It has made me more driven to strive for my goals."
The most memorable moment was the night the writers, Neil Bartram and Brian Hill, flew in from New York to watch the show: “The atmosphere at the theatre was incredible.”
As well as good memories, Jake left the placement with new confidence and professional skills. “It allowed me to hone my craft and take a lead in what I was doing,” he said.
But the placement isn’t the only achievement he’s proud of. Jake was also the 2020 recipient of East 15 Acting School’s Lillian Baylis award, an award more commonly given to students on acting degrees.
“It was obviously a complete honour to win. It has made me more driven to strive for my goals,” Jake said.
Despite ongoing disruption in the theatre industry Jake is confident his East 15 Acting School education will help him secure his dream job.
“The fact that we have all continued to put on productions in a Covid world is incredible and that ‘on the job’ training is invaluable.”