Above: Marcus Ryder will be the new Chair of RADA’s council
Marcus Ryder succeeds Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen who has held the post since 2007, at the end of June.
Marcus Ryder was recently appointed as Head of External Consultancies at the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity which was set up to explore and increase diversity across the industry including journalism, acting, film, TV and radio in both front-of-house and behind the scenes roles.
He has spent over twenty-five years working in the media across the world including eight years as a senior executive at the BBC, winning numerous industry awards – from BAFTAs to Royal Television Society Awards and Foreign Press Assoc. Awards.
He has previously held the position of Chair of the Royal Television Society Diversity Committee and is currently a trustee at the Press Pad Charitable Foundation.
He has led numerous campaigns to increase diversity and representation in the media and championed the need for greater visibility and opportunities for women, ethnic minorities and disabled people working in the film and television industry and has given oral evidence to both the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee and the House of Lords Communications Committee on how to increase diversity in broadcast media.
His role as Chair of the Council at RADA begins at the end of June. One of Marcus’ first jobs will be to oversee the recruitment of RADA’s future leadership, as current Director Edward Kemp is leaving during this academic year, and to guide RADA forward in a new chapter of its life.
Above: Lynne Williams
By Ruth Knight
Lynne Williams will retire and step down as Principal of Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
Over four years, she has overseen a number of developments & successes:
1. Developing a new strategic plan and business model for the institution;
2. Broadening the school’s mission to highlight community engagement;
3. Guildhall School ranked in the top 10 for student satisfaction in the 2020 National Student Survey;
4. Achieving the ‘Gold Award’ in the 2018 Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF);
5. School-wide approach to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion;
6. Establishment of the Guildhall Young Artists division and the launch of Music Education Islington;
7. Key appointments including a new Vice Principal and Director of Drama as well as Vice Principal and Director of Production Arts;
8. Deepening of the relationship with the Barbican in shared artistic and educational programming initiatives;
9. Extensive lobbying for positive Brexit outcomes and navigating the obstacles it has created for specialist higher education sector;
10. Navigating the pandemic with a transition to delivering high-quality online teaching and learning;
11. The launch of Guildhall Live Events;
12. Development of new Institute for Social Impact Research in the Performing Arts
13. Guildhall’s participation as a founding partner in Culture Mile.
Guildhall School of Music & Drama is provided by the City of London Corporation and is ranked as the top UK conservatoire in the Guardian Music and Drama league tables.
Its Governors will now consider the next steps in appointing the school’s next principal.
Above: A montage of the concert performances including compère and company patron, Nigel Harman (above centre). Photo: Ariel Company Theatre
Ariel Company Theatre raises over £1,600 in online charity concert compèred by Nigel Harman
The online concert was streamed in February via Ariel’s Facebook page all in aid of raising money for the company’s chosen charity ‘The Kangaroos’.
Ariel Company Theatre has been producing shows in Sussex for nearly thirty years, through its Drama Academies, with venues in Burgess Hill, Crawley, East Grinstead, Haywards Heath, Horsham and Shoreham (celebrating their fifteenth anniversary this year).
The event included performances from Ariel’s principals, tutors, actors and past students, who all recorded their performances remotely under the theme of ‘Parts We’ll Never Play.’ Ariel’s patron, star of stage & screen, Nigel Harman, compèred the event.
Ariel’s Artistic Director & founder, Nicci Hopson, told Sardines: “We are overwhelmed with the amount of money raised for our chosen charity. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, our usual fundraising activities haven’t been able to take place so we wanted to do something for this amazing organisation. I’m proud of our Ariel community for embracing this concert and raising such a huge amount that which will make such a difference.”
The total raised stands at £1,628, with the concert taking an incredible 5,500 views in two days.
The Kangaroos, a disability charity based in Mid Sussex, provides a range of fun, inclusive social and leisure activities for children and young adults with learning disabilities and additional needs. Ariel is closely connected with Kangaroos as several of their students from their thriving special and additional needs groups, The Othellos, attend.
Ariel Company Theatre is already making plans for further events. “Nothing beats the experience of live theatre, but for the moment, this is the next best thing. Bringing joy and moments of escapism into people’s lives is what Ariel do best so it’s been very special for us to create this event and raise money for The Kangaroos all at the same time,” said Beth Gavin, Ariel’s Business Manager.
To view the event, visit Arial’s Faceook page: arielcompanytheatre and voluntary donations can be made at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/arielcompanytheatrecharityconcert.
If you’d like to find out more about Ariel’s Drama Academies, Costume and Theatre Equipment hire, please contact www.arielct.com or call 01444 250407.
Children’s performing arts school franchise celebrates the achievements of schools in Swansea, Bridgend, Cowbridge, Cardiff, Caerphilly, Pontypridd, Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare
Wales… famous for its rugged coastline, mountainous National Parks and homegrown singing talent. From Tom Jones to Shirley Bassey, many British icons of stage and screen have hailed from Wales.
Children’s services franchise, Stagecoach Performing Arts operates weekly singing, dancing and acting sessions in Swansea, Bridgend, Cowbridge, Cardiff, Caerphilly, Pontypridd, Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare.
On 1 March, St. David’s Day, many of the Welsh schools made a big effort to mark the country’s patron saint which, in turn, has prompted us to focus on the post-lockdown plans for the valleys. Whilst nurturing the musical talent of tomorrow, Welsh franchisees are building their own community and have big plans for growth in 2021 and beyond.
Former Project Manager for the United Dance Organisation, Kate Davies, took over as franchisee and Principal of Stagecoach Performing Arts in Cardiff back in December 2019. Born and bred in the area, Kate always knew she wanted to put her experience to good use by owning a franchise that was close to home.
“I’ve been a real champion of Stagecoach across South Wales since my early twenties, having taught at or managed schools in Merthyr Tydfil, Pontypridd, Caerphilly and even Cardiff,” explained Kate.
“Now, aged 37 and with a daughter of my own, I’m more passionate than ever about inspiring the next generation of Welsh performers and equipping my students with opportunities I would have loved at their age. As well as being contacted by The Voice, about our students auditioning, early last year, children have taken part in West End style workshops and performed at theatres around the country. My singing teacher, Siwan Henderson, has also performed in the West End and is part of the ‘Welsh of the West End’ group – she’s a real inspiration to the students. Wales is a hub of incredible vocal talent and I’m very excited to see where my students go in the future.
“There’s a real demand for quality performing arts sessions for kids in Cardiff so my plan is, once the lockdown is lifted, to eventually open more schools within my area and bring a manager in to run them. It’s not just the incredible standard of talent in my students that impresses me but my teachers too. As well as nurturing our students to have confidence in their own abilities, they shadow me in a bid to understand the inner workings of operating a Stagecoach franchise. With their support, and the support of the other Welsh franchisees – who I’ve built a fantastic relationship with – we’re really affirming our value as part of the international network.”
A little over 25 miles away, in the busy town of Merthyr Tydfil, is franchisee and Principal Heidi Rees. Like Kate, Heidi took on an existing business, signing her franchise agreement in October 2018. Heidi and Kate, who had worked together for years before both joining Stagecoach, regularly collaborate on projects and look to each other for ongoing support.
“I own schools in Caerphilly, Pontypridd, Merthyr Tydfil and, since late last year, Aberdare,” said Heidi. “I’m so proud of all of my locations and students but my Aberdare school holds a very special place in my heart, having grown up in the small town and discovering my passion for performance there. Back in the nineties, there was nothing like Stagecoach in Aberdare and, although I had a great time at a nearby community performing arts school, it just didn’t offer the opportunities I would have had with Stagecoach.
“I’ve travelled the world working as a teacher with Stagecoach, whilst also working as a professional actress in places like Disneyland Paris, but there’s been nothing quite like coming home to Aberdare and starting my own school. I’ve even been able to offer my students the incredible opportunities I craved as a child, including workshops with West End performers and a group trip to perform at my old stomping ground, Disneyland, in 2022.
“With the support of local franchisees, like Kate, we’ve built our own community within a community. We’re really flying the flag for Stagecoach across the Welsh Valleys and St David’s Day is the perfect day to celebrate our success!”
Andy Knights, COO, is proud to champion the accomplishments of the brand’s Welsh franchisees. “Kate, Heidi and the rest of our franchisees across Wales are a force to be reckoned with. Over the course of the last twelve months, in particular, I’ve seen them rally together and work collectively to maintain our standing as the country’s most trusted provider of children’s performing arts sessions. Here’s to more growth and success in 2021, and the next Tom Jones or Shirley Bassey coming from Stagecoach!”
Creative practice in the Digital Studio, creating motion capture performance.
One of the first UK drama schools to offer courses in virtual theatre, theatre and digital content design, with a focus on virtual reality, mixed reality and motion-capture technology, seeks to widen student recruitment.
In late autumn 2020 Rose Bruford College, one of the UK’s premiere Theatre and Performance institutions, launched the Centre for Digital Production, one of the first of its kind, which offers two innovative degree courses at the cutting edge of technology and industry practice: Virtual Theatre and Digital Experiences plus Digital Content Design for Theatre and Live Events.
With dedicated computer laboratories, a fully equipped studio space on campus with unique facilities where students can learn to operate media servers, cameras, projectors, control desks, motion capture and virtual reality equipment and green screen technologies, the college is now actively recruiting students with interests in gaming, video, photography and design who might not have considered a career or training at a traditional drama school.
James Simpson, Head of Development said: “Anyone with any interest can find a role in Virtual Theatre whether they are technical, creative or a bit of both. If you’re interested in gaming, video, photography and stage technology you will get a chance to play with all of the tech, and if you are interested in design, art, graphics, 3D CGI, writing or making stories for a live audience, you will get the chance to explore your full creative potential and work as part of a team to create original and innovative projects.”
Sally Elsmore, Head of Student Recruitment, told us: “Applications for September 2021 remain open through UCAS until June this year, in recognition of the fact that many applicants might need longer than usual to decide on the best way forward for their education. Rose Bruford College have also taken the decision not to charge for recalls or auditions on our performance programmes for 2021 entry applicants. This should go some way towards easing financial strain the pandemic may be placing on potential students.”
The first year of the new courses have been facilitated with a new partnership with SimpleCloud Education, a cloud-based system which enables students to work on state-of-the-art software programmes accessible from any technology, from a phone to a basic PC laptop. This has enabled teaching to continue in the virtual realm, despite restrictions imposed on students who are no longer able to be on campus due to the UK lockdown in force. Current students across the two courses have also all been lent individual Virtual Reality Headsets, which has enabled remote meetings and teaching.
Rose Bruford College is also partnering with Reality Check Productions, founders of ‘The Round’, a bespoke software for the creation and distribution of live digital performance in Augmented Reality.
Other partners on the project include location-based Mixed Reality experts Figment Productions, motion-capture experts Target3D, volumetric capture experts Condense Reality and Virtual Theatre creators Copper Candle.
Created especially for the platform, productions in The Round use Augmented Reality technology to allow audiences to watch new live shows, with their friends, from any viewpoint, and will allow professional artists and creatives to produce, build and distribute performances delivered live to audiences’ homes globally. The Round is due to launch this June.
James Simpson is a creative technologist and also owner of Copper Candle, a XR studio creating and developing virtual theatre experiences as well as pre-visualisation solutions.
He is passionate about the use of technology in creating theatre and live entertainment. His specialism and PhD research is pre-visualisation, particularly using XR technology, and has worked with the Royal Opera House, National Theatre, RSC & Magic leap where, as a Digital Fellow, he was part of the development of a digital immersive re-interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He has also worked on shows including Miss Saigon, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, &Juliet, The Olivier Awards and Commonwealth Games.
Joanne Clifton announced as patron of Kent’s JGH Academy of Theatre Arts.
Joanne joined BBC’s high-profile Strictly Come Dancing as a professional dancer in 2014 and went on to win the famous Glitterball Trophy in 2016 with Ore Oduba having previously been crowned the World Champion in Ballroom Showdance in 2012.
Her extensive musical theatre credits as a leading lady include: Janet in Rocky Horror Show, Alex Owens in Flashdance the Musical, Dale Tremont Top Hat and Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
JGH Academy was founded by theatre producer, Joseph Hodges, and casting director, Jay Gardner, in January 2021 to bring an intensive full-time training academy to Canterbury, Kent, from September 2021, specialising in outstanding musical theatre training.
Pooling together their many years of performing arts experience from across the globe and unique set of contacts and relationships within the musical theatre industry, the academy offers two courses (a two-year Sixth Form and a one-year Intensive) that allows their students to gain the knowledge, training and skills to audition for further performing arts training or prepare for a career in the arts.
Each academic year, one talented student will be the recipient of the ‘Joanne Clifton Scholarship’ to contribute toward their tuition fees. In addition to this, Joanne will be joining JGH for master classes from time to time.
The one-year course will be geared towards performance & technical skills as well as audition technique, with training in: Singing, Voice, Acting, Musicianship, Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Acrobatics, Contemporary and Commercial.
The school’s academic calendar (Sep-Jul) will feature two performances at the nearby Malthouse Theatre; a musical theatre showcase in March and a full-scale musical production in July.
Applications are now open for their September 2021 intake for anyone aged 16+ with a view to obtaining a career in the performing arts. The application and audition process is free of charge and at www.jghacademy.co.uk/apply.
After the success of the first-ever diploma for Creative Producing for Theatre and Live Events designed to open up the world of theatre producing, a second course is in place.
The Maverick Academy, part of award-winning charity, Maverick Theatre Company, will be running another online course from Apr via Zoom.
The first diploma of its kind in the UK is a practical degree-level qualification for would-be theatre producers but for those who can’t afford the time or finance of a masters degree.
The course involves three hours tuition per week (Tue and Thu), with occasional tutorials and a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe. The course starts in April for sixteen weeks and promises to open up the world of theatre producing to those who want to ‘have a go.’
“When I started producing thirty years ago, there was no help for people who wanted to produce or create,” said Nick Hennegan, award-winning director of the diploma course.
“Some (expensive) options are available now, tending to be run by academics rather than those with practical experience. The course is a similar curriculum to an MA for MFA, building on the success over the last 10 years of our one-day Introduction to Creative Producing workshops at RADA & Theatre Royal Drury Lane.”
Most readers of Sardines will know a young person whose heart is set on training as a theatre/screen professional in acting, musical theatre, dance or as some form of theatre/film technician.
They are, happily, cutting their teeth in every school, youth theatre and amateur company. Many of these enthusiastic young thesps are probably themselves readers of this magazine too.
Everyone says, and knows, that young actors have it tough because there isn’t enough professional work to go round. Actually even the path into training is a very bumpy road and not at all easy for young people to access. Many don’t have appropriate careers advice – although there are plenty of people working in am-dram who have trained professionally themselves and can help keen youngsters in a way that their secondary teachers aren’t usually able to do.
There is no doubt, moreover, that application to vocational training organisations is an expensive minefield, The audition process is a barrier. So is the bewildering range of training available.
Some colleges operate within UCAS. Others don’t. Some are independent so most students have to self-fund. Others, including the ones which have been absorbed by universities, entitle students to student loans or, possibly Dance and Drama Awards (DaDA). Some schools operate through UCAS. Others do not. I have often written about these complexities in The Stage and elsewhere but nothing I can say makes any of it any easier to negotiate.
Wherever you apply you will almost certainly have to pay an audition fee (usually somewhere between £30 and £80) to each of the schools you apply to. That means, obviously, that less well off applicants can’t apply to as many as they should. So they are disadvantaged even before they start.
Typically a cash-strapped student who can afford to apply to only two will pick the two she or he has heard of – Central and RADA, say. Rejection follows, the student goes disconsolately away and starts a career in retail and the industry might – just might – have lost the next Lily James or Charlie Stemp. Not everyone shines at their first audition.
Enter Paul Taylor who thinks he has found a way round this. Paul trained at LAMDA as an actor but now runs a multi-media marketing company called Consider This. He works with lots of drama schools and other providers of vocational training.
“I’ve spent a year building a website, Perform This, which will enable schools to share auditions so that the candidate only has to pay once through a central application system – a sort of UCAS for performing arts,” he tells me a week or two after launching his site. Hang on a minute. I stop him. How this will work with UCAS itself through which many of the schools are already operating? He tells me it’s a good question and that he wants to sit down with UCAS soon and thrash it out.
Meanwhile he has listed over 100 schools – a much broader sweep than the well-known 20 which belong to Federation of Drama Schools – including all their details and courses. That, at the very least, makes the site a useful source of information all in one place.
“What I need now is for schools to come on board and list their auditions so that we can get schools working together,” he says, explaining that he is so keen to get this project going that although he already spent “the cost of a couple of Aston Martins” on it, he is offering it completely free to schools for the first year.
I suspect this could prove useful to the smaller schools. Many are offering fine training, (although there are some rogues, of course – caveat emptor or buyer beware) but sometimes struggle to get the number of applicants they want.
The big-name schools, on the other hand, enjoy prestige status and reputation so they get thousands of applicants. That enables them, quite wrongly in my view, to use the audition process as a source of income. It will be interesting, therefore, to see whether or not such schools are prepared to forgo that money in order to make things more inclusive for the candidate by using Perform This.
Those of us who dish out advice to wannabes – and I’ve done it for decades in columns and so on – usually suggest that applicants try to get the feel of the college they’re auditioning for while they’re there, as well as chatting to current students. You can’t do this if you’re being auditioned on “neutral” shared premises. And that’s where these shared auditions will have to take place. One unnamed principal cautiously told Taylor that he/she might be willing to consider his system but not if it meant using a competing school as the audition venue.
Maybe, therefore, there would have to be a completely new system of every offer being provisional until the student had visited the school in person – that way at least he or she would only have to travel to the school or schools which have already made it clear that there’s a place available if the student wants it.
Perform This seems a good idea in principle and I, like everyone else at Sardines, am watching with interest to see how it develops and/or takes off. Paul tells me that every school and college he has spoken to so far has reacted very positively.
Visit: performthis.com for more information.
By Rhian Bennett
National Theatre backing national initiative to increase and diversify new talent in the creative industries
The National Theatre is one of over five hundred organisations that took part in Discover! Creative Careers Week towards the end of Nov, a national initiative backed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in England to encourage diverse new talent for the country’s booming creative industries.
The creative industries employ over three million people and the sector is growing three times faster than the rest of the UK economy. During Discover! Creative Careers Week, part of the Creative Careers Programme, employers opened their doors to 40,000 young people aged 11+ to inform and inspire them about the opportunities in the sector and encouraged people to take a career in the creative industries who may not have previously been aware of these opportunities.
The National Theatre welcomed 130 state secondary school students from across Greater London on Wed, 20 Nov to an action-packed day that shined a light on backstage and offstage roles to inspire the next generation of talent.
Students who took part in the NT’s Creative Careers Day took part in demonstrations, workshops and hands-on activities led by top industry professionals across lighting, sound, costume, stage management, prop-making and set design.
The day involved:
A stage management and technical demonstration on the set of The Antipodes in the Dorfman Theatre followed by a Q&A with the backstage team.
Practical workshops including creating set models with a designer, building sound boards with the NT’s Head of Sound, creating blood bags with the Wigs, Hair and Make-Up team and exploring VR and storytelling in the Immersive Storytelling Studio.
Opportunity for teachers and pupils to talk to current and former apprentices, technical staff and the NT Learning team about career routes and training opportunities.
Also during Discover! Creative Careers Week, ‘Make Theatre Days’ introduced local primary school pupils to theatre-making and the backstage world of the NT and 14-18-year-olds currently on the NT’s Young Technicians Programme learned about off-stage roles from top industry professionals through technical workshops and shadowing opportunities.
The NT also participated in industry careers fairs TheatreCraft and Skills London to talk directly with teachers, careers advisors and students about career routes and upcoming opportunities.
Rufus Norris, Director of the NT said, “As the National Theatre, we have a responsibility to do all we can to inspire new talent in theatre and across the arts sector. There are so many talented individuals across many different departments that are vital to the running of a theatre so by taking part in Discover! Creative Careers Week we hope to make careers in the creative sector more accessible to a wider range of people and keep inspiring the next generation of creative talent.”
Syeda Bukhari, former NT Prop Making Apprentice and current freelance prop maker said, “During my apprenticeship I learnt skills from metalwork and carpentry to sculpture, which has given me a strong foundation for my career. I knew I wanted to take on a more practical approach to learning rather than university, without the burden of student debt. I’d encourage every young person to consider an apprenticeship if you are looking to be a part of the creative industry. Nothing replaces the hands-on experience and real-life working environment an apprenticeship provides, not to mention the qualifications you gain along with it. No two days are ever the same in my job, and that’s what I love about it.”
Young people interested in finding out more about creative careers can visit Get into Theatre (getintotheatre.org) and Discover Creative Careers (discovercreative.careers) with current job and training vacancies, videos and advice.
The NT Apprenticeships scheme is currently running and will open for applications in 2020.
Work placements (please visit: www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/about-the-national-theatre/careers/work-placements) are offered across a broad range of disciplines and departments and the Young People’s Programme (www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/young-people) includes workshops, practical training courses and events.
By PAUL JOHNSON
The Yamaha Music Foundation’s flagship music education course for young children has been launched for the very first time in London on.
The school is based at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls, which re-opened in September following a multi-million pound Croydon restoration.
The Yamaha Music School is just one of several initiatives at Fairfield Halls, designed to engage, inspire and educate young people in the local community and further afield.
Established in Tokyo in 1954, the Yamaha Music Foundation offers a global music education programme, in over forty-five countries. More than five million children have learned music through it and it is the most trusted and proven early years music education in Japan. The Junior Music Course, for children aged four or five years old at the start, has been in the UK for nearly forty years. Well-attended schools are in locations such as Milford, Abingdon, Burton, Tamworth, Derby and Nottingham.
Fred Scott, BH Live’s Artistic Associate for Music Education at Fairfield Halls said, “With the launch in South London, our music education programme looks set to enter centre-stage. And justifiably so: Yamaha is known for quality, and this does not just apply to the products on offer, but also to its music education programmes and staff: teachers must go through a rigorous audition, training and qualification system.”
The Junior Music Course curriculum is one of ‘timely education’. The carefully researched programme comprises four two-year courses, designed with teaching approaches that evolve to suit the children as they develop. Lessons are comprehensive: they include singing, playing, listening, moving, reading and writing and make full musical use of the group format for the entire course pathway. Parents accompany children for the first two years to group lessons, which include up to ten students in a class. Individual piano lessons are added to the curriculum after the first few years.
Nigel Burrows, Yamaha Music Education Manager for the UK says: “In over forty years of being involved with Yamaha Music Schools, I have yet to see another programme that can produce such consistently high levels of creativity with such young students.”
Talented Yamaha students from around the world come together each year to showcase their own compositions, highlighting the musical goals of the programme: to be creative and expressive musicians, with a lifelong love for music – whether students go on later to be professional or amateur.
Families can apply to Fred Scott for info about places and course details: Fred.Scott@bhlive.org.uk