A small theatre company which produces five-star work, Ardent Theatre Company has always lived up to its mission statement; Bringing Outsiders In.
Helping young people into the mysterious world of theatre is never an easy job, yet Ardent’s joint Creative Directors Mark Sands and Andrew Muir are truly passionate and take their responsibilities very seriously.
The theatre world is precarious enough without a pandemic, but even in normal times those who may come from less financially affluent homes or parts of the country may be exponentially disadvantaged from achieving their dreams. Pandemic-wise, that issue multiplies, which is one of the reasons this new initiative is so needed- and so welcome.
To help, each year Ardent chooses eight students from outside of London in their final year of education, and supports them with advice and training. Not just this, the group will travel to London for auditions, agent exposure and the rehearsal and performance of a week’s run in a specially commissioned play written for them by Andrew Muir. All of this supportive work including travel, accommodation, food and wages are paid for by the fundraising work that Mark Sands does through Ardent’s annual participation in the Big Give, a scheme where high value donors give amounts to be matched by public donations. Through a supportive and enthusiastic group of followers and some well-known supporters, Sands has not just achieved but smashed his targets in every year they have participated.
This year has posed issues for Ardent’s planned program, which although diminished in some aspects, after much creative thinking is also vastly expanded in others.
In the process of trying to reach a wider audience online, Ardent have invested time and funding in producing a series of online resources which anyone can access for free.
A series of workshop notes, interviews, guidance and tips about working in Theatre. Ardent will be adding new resources each month to build an information hub about the business, developing skills and finding work, as well as links to other online material they think useful.
Talking to Sands about the project, he said: “The idea really came out of the 16 young graduates we’ve worked with over the last few years. It’s quite hard to find the information they need to start building a career. There’s no one-stop place so it all becomes a bit piecemeal. There are some very well-funded sites out there, but they often cater to secondary school age, or they prioritise paid opportunities. We wanted to create something that was free for all, focused on post-education and plain speaking. And the response has been positive so far with many of the directors and actors we’ve worked with over the years offering up advice, tips and even video interviews. It’s exciting and something that will constantly evolve and grow as more and more people contribute.”
This will undoubtedly grow to be an increasingly useful reference work for young people wanting to get into the theatre industry and I wish it every success.
Every few weeks more material will be added to the resource, so it will be worth checking back regularly.
The current areas planned to be covered in the structure include About the Business, Developing Skills, Finding Work and Other Resources.
On April 1st the program kicked off with Casting and self-tapes.
On April 15th the program continued with Self-promotion using social media
And on 29th April the program covers a Guide to Registering as Self-Employed
If you know of young family or friends with theatrical aspirations, do them a favour and share this information with them. Theatre work is never easy, but the stars of tomorrow – both onstage and offstage- are out there, and they need all our help to shine.
Access the Ardent Resources as they become available via their website here