Theatre archive; watch decorative plaster makers at work

If you, like me, have ever looked intently with pleasure at the beautiful plasterwork in many of our older theatres, then you will be intrigued to discover and enjoy this short film courtesy of British Pathe which details the process of casting elaborate plaster decoration for theatre walls and ceilings.

For anyone interested in, or wanting to know more about theatre plasterwork, further reading can be found in an interesting article by David Harrison here

Remembering Helen McCrory

This seemed like a good way to celebrate the talent of Helen McCrory, who has died of cancer. A conversation at the National Theatre with Genista McIntosh from 2014.

My condolences to all her family, friends, other loved ones – and all her many fans.

MGCfutures awards celebrate fifth year of creative bursaries

On 20th April the latest round of beneficiaries of the Michael Grandage Comany’s MGCFutures awards were announced.

The fund was created to support early-career theatre-makers in developing their talebts within the theatre industry, advising and supporting their development in an area which has previously had very littkle of this kind of creative infrastructure.

The fund announced: “Our largest cohort yet, 33 theatre-makers join the MGCfutures family. Celebrating a wide range of disciplines from choreographers to digital creators, writers, set and costume designers and our first casting director.

We’re pleased to be working with the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre to support an opportunity for a trainee Literary Associate as well as working with Pilot Theatre in York to support two Creative Assistant roles.

And this year two bursaries are awarded in memory of Costume Supervisor Stephanie Arditti. Eve Kann is being supported to develop her skills as a designer and Kitty Hawkins receives funds to help her build an extensive library of essential reference books. These awards are generously supported by Designer Christopher Oram.

Special thanks must also go to the Theatre Community Fund for their generous support this year.”

The recipients, who applied to receive up to £5,000 each, will also benefit from the ever-growing MGCfutures network of support and guidance. Good luck to them all as they progress their theatre careers!

Find out more about the recipients at the MGCfutures website here

Ardent Theatre Company share free new online resource program for aspiring theatre stars

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.

Ardent Theatre Company’s Creative Director Mark Sands

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

And the program’s further segments will be announced as they become available. You can follow Ardent on social media visa their Facebook and Instagram accounts to keep updated.

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

Some of Ardent’s previous productions including their 2014 five-star debut, John Van Druten’s FLOWERS OF THE FOREST at Jermyn Street Theatre and their five-star production of Philip Osment’s THIS ISLAND’S MINE at the King’s Head Theatre in 2019

Enjoy a free online talk about Shakespeare and the world of theatre – on his birthday!

To celebrate the birthday of William Shakespeare, City and Westminster Archives and Libraries invites you to join Pimlico Library’s top Shakespeare enthusiast, Steven, who presents an online talk about Shakespeare and his theatre world.

Steven will be virtually discussing why Shakespeare was so pivotal to the world of playwrighting and theatre. Spanning a wild history from Ancient Greece to the 1700s, we will look at the lesser known period of plays that preceded Elizabethan theatre and how they evolved and grew to create the environment that Shakespeare thrived in.

Covering what is considered one Shakespeare’s greatest plays, HAMLET, we will paint Shakespeare in the context of the intriguing world he wrote in.

The online talk is presented on Saturday, 24 April 2021 at 7:00pm and lasts one hour. A 20 minute Q&A session will take place shortly after Steven’s talk. The talk is free but you must register, which you can do below.

Book your place here