Saturday, 2 November 2013

Breaking the North/South divide



First blog post.  Exciting times.  I've just come back to London where I work as a teacher at the BRIT School of Performing Arts after ten, clean air filled days in the North-East, Durham to be precise.  It's very much my home town, if you haven't been there, you should go.  I'm sure there was a recent trip-advisor type survey with Durham Cathedral as the number one place to visit in England, so it must be good.


There's a lot of stuff going on at the moment, so starting a blog seems a good way to keep it in order and process it while it's happening.  That seems to be the logic anyway.  So I'll get on with it.

The north-south divide is always something that's talked about.  Be it social, political, cultural, financial blah blah blah, you get the picture.  But having spent 4 days with a group of actors in Durham, my resolve that that is NOT the case when it comes to passion, artistry, craft and that ethereal 'talent' in the arts, but I'll get to that in a bit.

I guess, in training as an actor, I was more than likely to be one of many to be part of an exodus from the north-east.  London has the allure of not only being somewhat of an epicentre of theatre and acting in general (not conclusively), but also containing most (not all) of the NCDT Drama Schools in the country (though I believe the title now is Drama UK).  There are some great opportunities for actors in the north east to craft skills; Northern Stage, Live Theatre, New College Durham, Newcastle College, Northumbria Uni, the Gala Theatre and GTSS and many more, a good few of which I've had experience of as a student and later, as a teacher.  I could also take time to write about the exports from the homeland, many of whom I'm very happy to say are friends, but that would take far too long.

One thing I do feel the North East needs is some place for professionals to congregate and share skills, or develop.  An Actor's Centre-type of location for the North-East if you catch my drift.  Which is why, now I'm a teacher, and living in London, I'm doing my best to set up and run as many things in Durham and around the area whenever I can.   And I do believe there is a hunger for that work too.  It's just a case of spreading the word.

And what this week proved to me is that when the right people come together, with the right goals in mind, who aim to do what we do as a living, amazing things can happen.  4 days of Meisner fun gave a small group of actors a platform to just do some living for a change.  No pressure, no stress, just opportunities to learn a new technique and to let it breathe in the most fantastic of ways.  The only shame being that it was only for 4 days.  I think it went to show that Actors really do their best work when they're comfortable and supported.  We made mistakes, we laughed at ourselves, we ate a lot of cake and drank a lot of tea but beyond that the actors were free, and it was beautiful.  Intimate moments, truth, and real emotions, not faked whatsoever.  My head still hurts in processing it all.  Let's do it again in Feb.

More posts on my work soon, I think I'll do this as a weekly thing.  Who knows, we shall see! 

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