ArtsEd MA: Class of 2013

One amazing thing about drama school, besides the incredible teaching, the experiences you have and the knowledge you gain, but it’s the wonderful friends you make. You go on a journey together and it’s a strange kind of bond that never goes. Now we’ve graduated we all have busy lives out side of drama school, but we always seem to find the time to support each other. I am so proud of everything they’ve achieved whether it be with their acting careers or just generally in their lives, so I wanted to take the time to give them all a big shout out!

We all have busy lives so I really wanted to thank everyone who took the time to send in a little about their 2 years since graduating. Sitting down between shows/rehearsals/life, trying to type about yourself for someone’s blog is the last thing you feel like doing!! But I truly appreciate it, you should all be proud of what you have achieved!

So, let’s get on to some of these brilliant guys!

Oliver Geraghty Gower

Photo: Michael Wharley
Photo: Michael Wharley

The biggest thing for me since finishing acting school nearly two years ago has been building confidence and feeling like I have a right and a place in this industry as an actor, and also feeling ‘good enough’ – whatever that means. I’d say I’ve been extremely lucky and despite not having an agent for my first year have worked – jobs coming in from my course tutor (Aileen) former flat mate (the Worths) and university tutor Andy Jordan. These have been without audition, which is something I’ve worried about – finishing acting school and despite working quite a lot I’ve had only three auditions! I recently landed the first audition my agent got me. I’m happy because I feel like I’m always moving forward,  I’m doing the smallest part at the moment,  but on the biggest platform. Its already led to more work and hopefully a new more established agent.
On the flip side I am totally broke and in the most debt I’ve ever been in, to everyone,  brothers,  sisters,  girlfriends, parents and employers. That is a huge strain! And also still an area I need to find the balance of. As long as I’m moving forward I feel happy. In many ways I feel like I haven’t even started yet.

View Oliver’s CV here: Spotlight

Georgie Ashworth

Photo: John Clark
Photo: John Clark

Over the last two years I’ve been lucky to have had some wonderful jobs that have taken me all over world and meant I could do what I love every day in some incredible locations! That’s not to say it didn’t have its tough times too; I missed home terribly and was shocked by the negativity of some actors in the same fortunate position as I was, but I learnt so much from the experience and made the most of every moment. Since being back from touring, i’m back to the reality of unemployment: auditioning and waiting for that next job to come along, which is something I hadn’t experienced until this year. What has struck me is how the actual art of acting is so separate to that of the lifestyle of being an actor. In order to be a professional actor you need to accept and embrace the unpredictable, uncontrollable nature of the industry, which has a huge impact on your everyday life. I am insanely passionate about performing and know that I am my most happiest when doing so but I struggle with the day to day tasks involved in achieving my dream. Like struggling to pay your way, not being able to go on holiday with your friends or taking on a million other money jobs to get by! I have had a lot of close friends that, because of this, have taken a brave step into other areas in the industry and are loving life just as much, if not more than when they were an actor. For me right now though, I’m continuing to reach my goals in acting as the positives entirely outweigh the negatives. I will put everything into it for as long as it makes me happy but I’d have no shame in trying my hand at the many other exciting opportunities out there, if that tickled my fancy in the future!!!

View Georgie’s CV here: Spotlight

James Lawrence

Photo: Natalya Chagrin
Photo: Natalya Chagrin

My time since leaving drama school has been very enjoyable. I had the good fortune of striking up a good working relationship with a theatre producer shortly after leaving and as a result I’ve been lucky enough to have had quite a varied and interesting body of work as a graduate. I’ve also had the benefit of working in weekly rep over two summers and that taught me a tremendous amount. It’s no accident that that used to be the most common way of training actors and I firmly believe everyone ought to do it at least once. You learn a tremendous amount through doing rep and you undoubtedly become a better actor in the process.

When I’m not acting, I’ve got a sideline in delivering public speaking workshops to 14/15 year olds all over the country. If you get a nice school for the day it’s a tremendously enjoyable thing to do with your time and it leaves me a lot of time free to pursue my own interests and hobbies which is great. Sorting out the ‘Money Job’ is one of the hardest things for actors but if you get it right, it can be brilliant. I couldn’t work full-time in a job I didn’t love. I’ve done it before and I nearly lost my mind!

From my own experience and also from living with, dating and hanging out with other actors, it seems to me that no other occupation has the lows that acting does. It can be an incredibly lonely and frustrating profession at times but I also really do believe that no other profession has the highs that acting does. Even in my lower moments, I’ve never regretted my decision to train as an actor and having been out of drama school for two years, I keep coming back to how fortunate I am to actually be able to do this as a job. I can’t see myself ever losing that enthusiasm.

View James’ CV here: Spotlight

Esther Wane

Photo: M.A.D. Photography
Photo: M.A.D. Photography
I have been avoiding writing this, largely because I wanted to be able to shout about how amazing my life is now and how fabulously successful and in control I am.  I am not but that is OK.  Drama School for me was a long held dream and when it ended I had no idea what to do with myself so I took Penny’s advice and lay down for 20 minutes every day until I could hear something compelling.  I also started meditating.  This led me to write my blog about Inspiration and Perspiration, giving me a chance to discover who I am and what I really care about.  I then went back to my novel and re-wrote that.  It is now out with agents and has had some positive feedback but may need another push before it is ready for publication.
As for acting, I have done a bit of acting but I am very fussy about what I want to do.  I don’t want to be touring away from my family for a long time.  I don’t want to do work I don’t care about and I don’t want to do acting work that makes me unhappy because of the people or the environment.  For a while this meant I did nothing, not even apply, though I did keep going to class.  Then I was offered Polonius in Butterfly’s Hamlet.  Standing in a cave in Bristol in spite of my deep fear of caves it felt wonderful to have made magic with a collection of my favourite people, and how lucky we were to do it again in Heidelberg.
For a while last year I had a 2 day a week training job that paid well and I felt as if I had it all sorted, then I lost the job, the first time since I was a student on a summer job.  This year I have been working on starting a home voiceover business.  It has been hard work and a lot of fun and I have met some lovely voice artists along the way and asked for a lot of help.  Tonight I am going to an event about audiobooks.  I’d really like to do some of them.  I have learnt a bit about sound proofing and sound treatment and editing and have a profound respect for sound engineers.  Slowly I am gathering a few clients and have a bit of work in the pipeline, possibly for Radio 4.  And I am applying for acting work that looks interesting or fun and that fits with my life, a bit of it is even coming my way.
So, how do I feel now?  Grateful, mainly, profoundly grateful.  I had the chance to make a dream come true and I did it and met other people doing it too.  I treasure the time I had at ArtsEd and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  The pain of it coming to an end was hard and finding ways to keep picking myself up and trying again even harder. But I am doing it.  With a lot of help and more support than I ever expected to need let alone ask for, I am making slow and steady progress.   I have been humbled but perhaps that was what I needed to learn to be a beginner again.
View Esther’s CV here: Spotlight

Hannah Grace-May

Photo: Natalya Chagrin
Photo: Natalya Chagrin

After Arts Ed I felt totally and completely and utterly ready for the professional world of acting, and totally and completely and utterly ready for Spielberg’s call, (and totally and completely and utterly ready for that second point to obviously not happen). I really did feel prepared to tackle the industry head on and managed to work pretty consistently through my first year as a professional actress – even if I did do a few jobs that I absolutely LOATHED (one of which ended in a literal car crash). This year has definitely been about realising how much effort it is to actually do this job and be happy in it always – performing or not. Fortunately I have been involved in Butterfly Theatre Company’s ‘As You Like It’, which has turned into a bit of a tour, and hasn’t at all felt like work – the absolute recipe for happiness. I still have (as I expect everyone does) a lot of people asking “what’s next?”/”so are you going to work in your call centre full time now then?”/”Hollywood ringing yet?”, and while I smile and nod and giggle in response, I actually feel pretty content in where I am right now, and I absolutely know that there is absolutely nothing else I want to do in life (unlike the majority of those questioning me).

View Hannah’s CV here: Spotlight

Sochel Rogers

Photo: Natalya Chagrin
Photo: Natalya Chagrin

My opinion of the acting world changes dramatically with my mood… When I’m in a production or planning projects I think it’s the best thing ever. When ive not worked for a while, have no money, no time, its raining, I cant fathom why anyone would want all that stress for no return.
I also want to make a positive impact on the world, and often struggle to see how I’m fulfilling that aspect when submerged in the glamour of industry… But I went to an eco film festival in South Africa. And saw Mark Thomas’ show ‘cuckooed’. And met the guys at BP or not BP. And i realise how I can fulfill both my artistic and active drives together. Using theatre to raise awareness, change opinions, change a little something… My training, more than anything, has allowed me to be brave and playful in all areas of my life. I’ve had life changing experiences like travelling to SA on my own for a month, nearly getting married (and becoming aware of old and outdated behaviour patterns…!) Sat a 10 vipassana course. Pushed my brain and body to new extremes.
I recently got back from volunteering with the men living in the camps in Calais. I don’t think acting will play a role there but its hard and rewarding work that I will continue with.
And am working with the BP or not BP group at the Art not Oil coalition meet on the 13th of September. Come along and see what we’re doing or get involved…! A wise woman once said that actors don’t expect to get paid much, and are often out of work, but the payoff is freedom.

Gemma Stroyan

Photo: Scott Cadenhead
Photo: Scott Cadenhead

It’s been 2 years since graduating and I’ve absolutely loved being out in the working world, despite its ongoing challenges. I had an agent based in Scotland before training at Arts Ed and had a little experience in TV, had done a couple of radio ads and some corporate work after loving drama at school and uni. However, I really found that Arts Ed gave me the platform and knowledge to prepare me for the real grafting side to the industry and this as a career. It opened up doors for me in theatre a lot more, ha I g worked with Butterfly doing a few Shakespeare shows with there well known lunchtime theatre affiliated with the course and our course director, then onto the Riverside Studios, a fantastic venue with a great reputation close to our Arts Ed lot in Hammersmith. I played Emilia in Othello, and absolutely loved the role and the company of actors I worked with. Whilst it was challenging being a young, new company producing it, so there were obvious financial constraints due to it being a profit share, it opened up some doors for me due to the venue and the run being a month long, and I came away with an Off West End nomination for my performance. I think this made me realise that as actors, we will always have to make difficult decisions where we weigh up finance versus opportunity, and if there are personal reasons that make something worthwhile for you, then an opportunity can be worth so much more than a pay packet.

The rest of 2014 was a great year, with a couple more lunchtime theatre shows at the St James, a twisted dark, naked, blood covered trailer for the RSC (another case of doing it for my own reasons; this time for pushing myself out of my comfort zone) and finishing the year with playing the wicked queen in panto on the south coast.

Perhaps my biggest job, and biggest challenge was one that came up last minute, just before heading to panto. I was cast as the understudy in a UK tour of a crime thriller play for 6 months. I ended up performing 20 shows as the lead with a full week run at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, one of my favourite venues, and absolutely loved it all! The cast we were touring with were lovely, a lot of them made up of soap/TV faces who soon became great friends, but I learnt a lot of things on this job. Mostly that I absolutely had a right to be there amongst them all. In what is a really tough business where we never know where the next job is coming from, we have a tough enough time scooping ourselves up, maintaining morale in part time jobs, keeping motivated and holding onto our confidence, so it was lovely to learn that our training and hard work stands us all in good stead when we actually do get in the room. I felt like I was prepared, hard working and new how to handle myself in what was a long, sometimes challenging job, and that amongst more successful names, I was not out of place. Another fantastic positive to come from that job was a move to a bigger agent with strong connections between both London and Scotland, so I’m excited to see what that brings. So even if I decide that this lifestyle and career doesn’t quite give me what I want in the future, I’ll know that I tried and had the work ethic and determination to keep me going as long as I wanted. I still find the ups and downs and the struggle for consistency worth it, when you experience moments like stepping out to 800 people in a beautiful venue you only dreamt of playing. But more so I also find it totally worth it to have found so many great friends who are going through the same thing, and a sense of achievement just for keeping going! That’s worth the self doubt and lack of financial stability. And I know that if I change my mind later in life, that too will be a choice, and one to also be proud of, having given it my best shot.

So that’s where I’m at, 2 years on from drama school, and 13 years on from my first professional job. Still struggling on with the usual demands of an actor, but loving life and the people in it!

View Gemma’s CV here: Spotlight

Reading these actually made me feel quite emotional. You sit at home, thinking you must be the only one who feels the way you do, but actually if you take the time to look up from your worries you will see that you are not alone!

Graduation Party 2013


Our Showcase at the Criterion Theatre, London 2013


ArtsEd Class of 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s