It was an absolute pleasure to speak with actor and journalist Hector Macduff at ‘Voice Magazine recently’ – albeit via Zoom!
Voice is a magazine and platform for young creatives covering arts, culture, politics and technology and I was honoured to be their first guest for their ‘With Whom on Zoom’ interviews, talking about my book, ‘So, Your Child Wants to go to Drama School?’
It was particularly good to chat to Hector who as an actor himself, had already gone through the drama school process and who understood how daunting it can be.
The interview is available to view on You Tube or you can watch it HERE
I was interviewed recently by writer Bryan Collins for his ‘Become a Writer Today‘ podcast. This was my first ever podcast, and I have to admit, I was quite nervous, but it was a lovely experience and Bryan was extremely welcoming.
Bryan Collins, host of the ‘Become a Writer Today’ show, unpicks the creative process behind top authors, writers and books. He mixes up interviews and episodes packed full of practical advice for freelance writers, bloggers, indie authors and non-fiction writers
I was delighted to be a guest on Theatreland Radio recently, where apart from being interviewed about my book, ‘So, Your Child Wants to go to Drama School?’, I was invited to choose my top 3 all time favourite musicals – Can you imagine how hard that was? (choosing 3 musicals, not talking about my book!) I would have been happier choosing a top 20!
I was torn between choosing the musicals that really influenced me, and the musicals that I could watch over and over again.
I didn’t choose ‘Silk Stockings’, starring Fred Astaire, which I feel really guilty about and not ‘Half a Sixpence’ with the original ‘greatest showman’, Tommy Steele. I turned my back on Chicago and Cabaret and didn’t even mention ‘West Side Story’, ‘Hamilton’ or ‘The Book of Mormon’…how could I have left those out?!
So which musicals did I choose? Well if you missed the show, which was broadcast on 25th March, you can listen again HERE
If you love musicals, you can tune in to Theatreland Radio in a number of ways…The easiest way is online or through your smart speaker – All I did, was say “Alexa, enable Theatreland Radio” and it was done! I can now enjoy musical theatre tunes all day long – bliss!
Thank you to Garry Ormes for a lovely interview and if you did listen, I hope you enjoyed my top 3 tunes!
For a long time now, I have been thinking of changing my car from petrol to a hybrid model. I am nervous to fully convert to electric as I make quite a few long journeys, but hybrid sounds good to me and certainly a step in the right direction environmentally.
Making changes in our lives can be quite daunting and I discovered this no more so than recently, when I was unable to deliver face to face classes in my musical theatre academy. Like everyone, lock down brought many challenges, and one of which was making sure my pupils got their lessons as planned. At first, this simply didn’t happen. I closed the academy and awaited an announcement for a swift return, but of course it didn’t come. Weeks turned into months and by this stage, it was apparent that I would only be able to offer classes if we went online!
For me, online classes didn’t really seem feasible. Musical Theatre lessons include singing as a group and this, online, doesn’t really work and with much of our teaching involving group work, and show rehearsals, I simply wrote off the idea and decided to wait until the Autumn term, when we would be back to ‘normal’!
Over the Summer months, I provided some free activities for the pupils to do at home, from colouring for the youngest, to monologues and ‘You Tube’ tutorials for the older students. Something at least…but perhaps not ideal.
Then Autumn term was upon us and we eventually got the green light to go ahead with face to face classes. Following strict guidelines and a thorough assessment, my academy was deemed ‘COVID Secure’ and we were given certificates and a logo that we could display, to prove it!
It soon became apparent that our now smaller classes would get even smaller as the weeks passed, due to local lock down periods and certain school years having to quarantine. So I bit the bullet and tried an online class at the same time as my face to face class.
iPad set up, tripod bought, long extension leads and chargers all at the ready. I set up Zoom codes allocated passwords, updated terms and conditions and bit the bullet! To be honest, I was dreading it! There was so much to consider…child protection, health & safety, technical issues etc. but it was worth a try, so we went live and then this happened….
Absolutely nothing – it went perfectly! The WiFi worked, the pupils codes worked, the children engaged really well and the teacher coped with it like water of a ducks back! (Quite a hard task to control a full class of ‘live’ pupils at the same time of keeping children online involved and engaged). I would go as far to say – Why haven’t we ever done this before? Sometimes children can’t attend because they struggle for a lift or a parent is ill etc. Why not always offer this type of class?
So there we have it, like many others around the country, our ‘Hybrid’ classes were born and it was easy. We now offer all our classes as ‘hybrid’. So perhaps its time to learn from this lesson and make a decision, and I think I have – As soon as I am able, I’m going to change my car to a hybrid version and I bet I’ll wish I’d done it very much sooner!
Embrace change, take risks and be brave. Anything is possible when you decide to go for it and don’t have a ‘Plan B’
My book, ‘So Your Child Wants to go to Drama School?’ is all about not having a ‘Plan B’ – Read the first few pagesHERE for FREE!
I can only speak personally, but I know that from the very minute my Son decided he wanted to go to drama school, I was worried about funding. I had always known that he was interested and that this might be a path he would follow, so I did start to save as much as possible from as early as possible. As a single mum at the time, this wasn’t easy and just as he was about his degree course in Musical Theatre I moved in with my partner and lost of all of the help that would have been available to me. I felt sick!
However, whatever your circumstances, it really can be done. Student loans cover most drama schools these days, (although rarely the full amount) and there are many bursaries and scholarships available too. Of course there is always fundraising and I go into this in detail in my latest book.
Once you manage to get the tuition fees together there is also their accommodation and living expenses to consider, but you knew this when you decided to support them to drama school in the first place. What you might not have thought of were the hidden extras and one of those is The Kit List!
Your average kit list comes out at approximately £500. This may not be the biggest figure on your budget sheet (I hope you have one!) but its £500 you could do without at this expensive time!
So when your organising your funding for drama school, please remember the hidden extras…The train fares to/from school in the holidays (or the petrol), Spotlight membership, head shots, and of course the kit list…. make your life a little easier by giving yourself fewer shocks along the way!
When my son started his degree in Musical Theatre at Drama School, he was part of an extremely talented group of students, all of whom had shown excellent potential during their audition. Not all of these students will have had previous training, but most of them will have and would most probably attended their local stage school or at least have had singing or dance lessons. If truth be known, I imagine most of them would have been able to boast a theatrical CV as long as their arm!
With thousands of stage schools and theatre academies around the country, there is almost certainly one or more near you, but why should you be sending your child there? Do they actually learn anything valuable?
The answer is a resounding YES! Acting, singing or dancing (or ideally Musical Theatre as it encompasses all three), teach an enormous amount of skills. Very young children are taught these skills through fun drama games and action songs, but as your child gets older, they will develop more specific skills, learning to express themselves and communicate not just verbally but through the minds of other characters, through song and even through dance.
Acting helps to develop numerous skills: Communication, teamwork, the ability to problem-solve, diction, voice projection, timing and expression to name just a few!
Singing is not only about learning the right notes to sing, but about developing listening skills. Children learn how to appreciate various types of music and develop skills that enable them to memorise lyrics, tempos, rhythms, etc. A good school will also teach the importance of vocal health.
Dancing keeps your child’s body (and mind) active. Dance improves their flexibility, coordination, timing, and deportment. It is vital that children are encouraged to be creative and allowed to express themselves. This not only boosts their confidence but increases their self-esteem.
As your child gets older and develops a love for performing, they may decide to apply for specialist training. This is when they will need to use some of these skills to greater effect.
Self-discipline and stamina.
The ability to self-reflect and analyse
Organisation and time management.
Of course, many ‘theatre kids’ decide NOT to pursue acting, singing or dancing as a career, yet still continue to perform and I don’t mean that they will join their local amateur dramatic society. They may become teachers, ‘performing’ in the classroom everyday, Scientists, business owners and website developers presenting their latest ideas to their staff or at seminars and lectures…it’s all ‘performing’, and surely there are no bigger ‘performers’ than the Barristers in court! The list is endless.
The skills your child will learn at your local stage school, theatre academy or even by participating in their school productions are invaluable tools for life, no matter which path they take. Attending should most definitely be encouraged.
As Autumn unfolds, so too does the drama school audition season. Open days (be they virtual or real) and first round auditions start to take place, with thousands of young performers chasing the dream to secure one of the elusive sought after places! Its an exciting time but it can also be a daunting one. Not just for those auditioning, but for their parents or those that are helping and guiding them through the process.
It is six years ago that I went through the same process with my own son, who thankfully was successful at getting a place in one of the top drama schools in London, and who has since gone on to work professionally since graduating. At the time, there was no such guide as the one I have just written. We didn’t know how to write a personal statement, when the re-calls would be, how much we needed for his starter kit or how on earth we were going to raise the funds to send him there in the first place.
My new book ‘So, Your Child Wants to go to Drama School?’ is a lighthearted but factual guide to the complete process. This is the perfect time to grab a copy and curl up with a cuppa or a glass of something chilled and see what going to drama school entails. Read it all in one go or dip in and out of it, the choice is yours. There is also a packed appendix full of information on 25 drama schools and sample letters for you to use.
Feel free to head over to my REVIEWS page, to see what everybody else is saying about the book, or jump straight to AMAZON and grab a copy, I promise you, it’ll all seem clearer and far less daunting once you’ve read it.
Good luck with the auditions – I hope my book serves you well!
Not just my first book, but also my first interview as an author! Not to mention my first ever Insta Live! Eek!
Fortunately, it all went very well and Shatanese was so lovely and welcoming. We had a good few viewers popping in and out of the interview and it was great to see some familiar names on the feed as well as people I didn’t know.
We chatted mainly, about how it feels to be a published author and why I chose to write about drama school auditions. Shatanese loves a nugget of advice she can share, so mine was to NOT have a Plan B! So often in the performing arts industry students are advised to have a plan B in case their chosen career fails. I understand that the industry is a precarious one, but I honestly feel that when students have the ‘hunger’ to pursue such a difficult avenue, then they need 100% support and that means only ever having a plan A!
The interview lasted for approximately 20 minutes and was an absolute pleasure. If you missed it and fancy catching up, you can see it HERE
Just 2 weeks after announcing my new book, ‘So Your Child Wants to go to DRAMA SCHOOL?” I thought I’d let you know why I wrote it in the first place!
My own son expressed an early interest in wanting to go to drama school, so it was no surprise to me, but it was always going to be a worry.
Was he good enough? Would he get accepted? Could he handle the rejection? Could we afford to fund his dream?
If he had chosen to study drama at a traditional university, it would have all been funded (well, a student loan!), but of course a ‘proper’ drama school isn’t the same thing. The top drama schools or ‘conservatoires’ as they are known, offer the most incredible opportunities, contact hours, and connections, so if he was going to chase his dream, he may as well go for it and we would just have to find a way…
I searched the internet for ‘an idiots guide’ or something similar, but everything I found was written for the student, many of which go to great lengths to talk about monologues and song choices. These are fantastic but not what a parent needs. So it wrote the book I had wanted. It’s lighthearted, easy to read and accessible, and above all, will guide a parent through the whole drama school process, from the initial conversation with your child right through moving out and their day one! I hope it serves you well. x
Wow! What an amazing start to my book launch! So much love and support. Thank you to everyone who has commented on social media, followed or privately messaged me, and of course a billion thanks to anyone who has actually ordered the book!
Along the way, I’ll be posting snippets of the book which I hope you will find useful and if anyone wants to message me with any questions about the drama school process, please do so via the contact form on this website and I’ll be please to help.
Having been through the whole drama school process (and out the other side) with my own son, who is now a professional actor, I hope my experiences will serve you well and I look forward to reading some of your comments and questions.