When I was about 16/17, a lot of people at my college were auditioning for drama schools and I heard about East 15 because one of my friends had auditioned the year before, but didn’t get in. He told me it was a really good one and that he really enjoyed the audition, so I applied.
I originally applied for BA Acting, but then I met Ainslie, who’s the Head of Acting and Community Theatre and was offered a place on that instead! At first I was like, “oh I don’t know much about it, I haven’t looked at the Acting and Community Theatre course” and then as I looked into it I was like, “this is what I want to do”. In my gap year I had already worked in a school, worked with children, stuff like that – so I’d already kind of been involved in serving the community through the arts in a small way. Initially I was like “as long as I get my actor training, I’m fine”, but upon having a meeting with Ainslie, she was like “yep, you’ll get that and even more”.
Being on the degree has taught me so much. The first year we kind of specialise in our acting – like the regular acting, like Shakespeare, contemporary plays, just kind of bringing our craft up and then second year is so much more specialised. We do things like ‘Reminiscence’ which is a project where we go in to Care Homes and put on a show based on the stories and experiences they give us - it is so rewarding. For me, drama is the only thing that I was like proficiently good at, so it’s good that I can kind of ‘give back’ through it in a sense.
We also do ‘Facilitation’ which is where we go into schools and essentially lead through drama workshops and then it kind of gets more specialised – we do things in People Referral Units, work with young carers and you’ll have like a purpose for intervention, whether it’s management of emotions or rehabilitation into society and you’ll do games that have that focus and that aim. It’s just an incredible course and I think being a performer these days; you need to have other strings to your bow. Facilitation is a really good one because I can do that when I’m not acting and it’s something I actually enjoy doing. I think a lot of performers come to realise, “oh no, I’m not gonna get that incredible tour that I thought I was gonna get straight out of drama school”, but I’ve got something else I love doing and that’s really nice.
I want a lot of things out of my acting/performance career. I run my own theatre company and we’re currently preparing for the Southend Fringe. We won the Southend Fringe Award which means we get to perform at the Clifftown Theatre which is exciting. I’m devising that currently and putting that together with my cast. I kind of want to do what I’ve been taught to do here – that community side of things – going to schools and doing Theatre in Education. We had to do a pitch for a show during the course – mine was on knife crime because it’s so rampant in today’s society. I’m always ‘prevention over cure’ so I’d love to do a show about a boy who either falls into it or he’s used to it. For me, the reason people love theatre is because you can get into characters. I think there’s something special about creating a world to show children someone their age and saying “this is where your life could potentially go”. I’d like to think it affects them differently.
Now that we’re coming to the end of 3rd year, I have thoughts like, “will my life come together?” This is the last bit of the educational ride, so now it’s real life. I get stressed, but I’ve also kind of learnt to laugh at stress. Sometimes I wonder at the end of the day if anyone actually cares as much as I do in my head? We’ve gotten to the point where we get asked a lot more about ‘what’s next’. It was different when I was at college, because it was like “oh what are you going to do?” – “oh well I’m going to University” or “I’m going to do this apprenticeship” – it’s like, “I don’t know! I actually don’t know, but I’ll sort I out when I get there…!” It’s all happening; it’s all coming together slowly but surely.