Drama School


In the recent BBC series Taboo, Tom Hardy delivers a masterclass of screen acting as the protagonist James Delaney. 

Alongside him many excellent actors are working skilfully with a deep understanding of the medium, Jason Watkins, Oona Chaplin and Tom Hollander among them, but it is Hardy who dominates the series and several elements show his total mastery of his craft.

Firstly he utterly commands the screen whenever he appears.  It’s easy to put this down to the blessing of charisma but its cornerstone is deep concentration.  Additionally his stillness and use of silence draw you into his world.  His movements are few and highly controlled and the viewer’s eye never has to search for him.  Whenever an actor moves, or the camera moves, the viewer's eye unconsciously has to readjust to find the point of interest –  usually the character's eyes as we seek to understand what he or she is thinking but not saying.  For this …

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I have a confession to make: despite the plaudits and accolades it has received, I don't think ‘I Daniel Blake’ is a very good film.

 I'm making a distinction here between its political significance and the quality of filmmaking.  As a piece of social commentary it is outstanding: angry, deeply compassionate, full of integrity and typical of the committed work of a man who has, for 50 years, been shining a light on the iniquities of our increasingly divided society.

 But, as filmmaking, it is not Loach's best.  And perhaps it's worth exploring a few of the things that let it down, particularly in terms of the strengths and flaws of its acting.

 Aside from a rather clumsy and predictable storyline, there are some simplistic and obvious characterizations, such as the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ benefits assessors.  A number of the supporting cast are weak.  I know Ken Loach likes to use nonprofessional actors and …

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Top Audition Tips from The Forge Initiative

Here at The Forge Initiative, we believe that there are going to be times when you have a good feeling about an acting audition, a workshop or a course. Perhaps it is going to be for someone you know, maybe they have heard you audition before or it could be that they have expressly asked to see you as they think you are well suited to the role they are auditioning. However, that is going to be only a very small percentage of the time. Mostly you are going to be auditioning for a panel of people who you have never met before and who only know you through a headshot photo.

You have no idea what they are looking for and they have no idea if you are going to be suitable. So, without being defeatist or apologetic, you must always bear in mind that as soon as you walk in that room, there is a chance you may not fill the criteria of the panel.

Having said that, we at The Forge Initiative, encourage all auditionees to always face an audition with a positive attitude. Someone is going to get a …

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BEYOND THE CANON: Colour-blind casting turned on its head.

Warning! Stop reading this if you’re precious about the classical and contemporary play canon. I’m referring to the canon that mainly features the works of dead white men with hardly any reference to the plays written by or for people from a culturally diverse background. For those that have ever studied Drama & Theatre Studies or Acting or fortunate enough to work in the arts industry, these are the plays that are constantly pushed down our throats at every given opportunity, with a big invisible sign that reads:

‘This is high-quality art. Respect, value and digest the work as it is written – and do not (by any means) contest it’.

In addition to numerous revivals, these works are usually backed by the limited number of ‘respected’ critics for that added certification.

Well I, like many others, questioned the whereabouts of the plays that existed beyond the canon. The plays that were written by men and women from around the world who wanted to …

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Re-Writing Grotowski

As I start writing this blog, my predominant emotion is curiosity.  I'm wondering how you feel as you begin reading it.  Specifically, I'm curious how you feel about Grotowski.  He has always been a divisive figure in the world of theatre and performance, from his first days in the international spotlight in the early 1960's.  He seems to invoke either adulation, or outright rejection.  Richard Shechner famously called him "shape-shifter, shaman, trickster, artist, adept, director, leader".  If you would like to satisfy my curiosity, and tell me how you feel about Grotowski, I have outlined ways of doing that further on.

At the beginning of the build-up of his international reputation, Grotowski was still a youthful director, just 30 years old.  He was bursting with ideas that challenged mainstream theatre and mainstream culture, and he was desperately trying to keep afloat a small experimental theatre company, in a small parochial …

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