Why we founded the Foundry and want to empower actors!
Chats about theatre...
We hang out together, a lot, and regularly talk way into the wee small hours, (apparently being sensible is not a natural attribute of age). As a professional actor (Lou) and director (Helen), our late-night talk inevitably turns to theatre.
The UK theatre scene is in a really exciting place right now, groups such as Act for Change have brought conversations about equality and diversity to the forefront of theatrical discourse. There is still such a long way to go, of course, but these conversations are happening now and the potential for real change exists. As Lyn Gardner pointed out in her recent article if we’re really looking to revolutionise theatre (and we certainly are), we also need to look at how we evaluate theatre and what classifies as ‘good’ theatre. We need to stretch theatrical form, question and test it; form and content go hand in hand, new stories demand new forms to convey them. Therefore, actors and theatre makers need the confidence, the space, the support and the skills to create those new forms and tell those new stories.
We met while teaching at Drama Studio London, where Helen ran the Two Year Acting course and Lou runs the BA Professional Acting course, so we’ve watched many of our talented students embark on the adventure of their career and followed them as they progress on their creative journey. Those journeys are both exhilarating and tough; we know, we’ve taken the same path. One of those late-night chats turned to how actors are so often in the position of delivering other people’s criteria, trying to execute what the director wants, or anticipating the casting director’s vision, particularly in the early years of their careers. This leaves little space to develop a sense of their own creative taste and identity as an artist. Yet, if we’re going to challenge the current structures of theatre, then the theatre needs empowered actors, confident in their creative identity and up for some theatrical authenticity and experiment and that’s when we decided we could set up that space. A place for creative, ongoing actor training, modelled on the US practice of life long actor learning we both adhere to, with an ethos of collaborative theatre making and an eye to producing new work. So, we start with our devising course.
Devising empowers actors, it has the capacity to give birth to new stories and forms, it is a space where you can’t help but discover more about your creative identity. These are the values which form the core of Theatre Foundry.