BWW Blog: Royal Central School of Speech and Drama's Martin Wylde on Commissioning New Work for Central Students
Martin Wylde is an acting teacher, theatre director and active advocate of both new writing and new work, commissioning and developing plays within the conservatoire and for industry. As Principal Lecturer and Programme Leader for MA Acting at London's Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, he teaches Stanislavsky derived acting methodologies and scene study and directs public productions and showcases on both the Classical and Contemporary Acting courses
Martin is particularly passionate about the development of new writing, having collaborated with many leading playwrights including Tanika Gupta, Sarah Kane, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Sabrina Mahfouz, Peter Oswald, Harold Pinter, Colin Teevan and Amanda Whittington. He has commissioned over a dozen plays, provided dramaturgical support to writers and directed many premieres.
At Central, he has been responsible for the development of a commissioning programme which has, over the last nine years, enabled a number of leading and emerging women playwrights to write big cast plays in association with the School's MA Acting Contemporary course.
Designed primarily for students with previous experience and/or training, the MA Acting at Central is a creatively, physically and intellectually demanding, advanced level, conservatoire acting programme specialising in either Contemporary or Classical plays.
In this article, Martin discusses commissioning new work for Central's students as a part of its MA Acting Contemporary course.
As the Programme Leader for MA Acting my job is varied; one day I may be teaching an acting class and another directing a showcase for a West End theatre in order that our students can be introduced to agents and casting directors in industry. I'm currently writing this piece in Singapore, having spent the last ten days here and in Sydney, Australia, auditioning some of the talented, emerging actors and practitioners who will join Central's vast array of specialist undergraduate and postgraduate courses next year.
The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama is a remarkable and perhaps unique place to work. We sit at the intersection between conservatory, university and professional theatre. Located in the leafy area of Swiss Cottage near central London, I am fortunate to have an office in our brand new North Block, a few yards from rehearsal rooms and our Courtyard Theatre, and a few steps across the plaza to Hampstead Theatre, a professional theatre specialising in new writing.
Some of my most enjoyable days are spent developing and working on our annual commission. Over the last decade we have worked with some wonderful playwrights, giving our students the experience of working on the development of a new play from its' earliest stages to the opening night. This enables us to celebrate the work of female playwrights and allows us to tell a range of stories that otherwise might never have been heard. Often these stories have women at their heart. In recent years these have included Tanika Gupta's Bones, the heart-breaking tale of the discovery of the skeletons of hundreds of babies in rural Ireland, Sabrina Mahfouz's Beweep/ Outcast about young women in prison who have to give up their children and Amanda Whittington's Miss Johnson, the story of Laura Knight who led an incredible life and painted the Nuremberg trials "in situ". Working on these fascinating projects, our emerging actors discover what it means to breathe life into a role for the first time and work with some of our leading writers in the forging of a new piece.
It is a privilege to do the job that I do, helping to nurture the next generation of dedicated actors. Part of the responsibility of my position is to look for talent wherever I may find it and to help develop diversity in our profession, telling those stories that may be covered-up and finding a wide range of voices to tell some of them now and others that are yet to be imagined. I hope that maybe somebody reading this blog might be inspired to join us on that journey. I can think of few better ways to live than in giving voice to stories that need to be shared.
The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama is a leading UK drama school located in London - a highly regarded, specialist conservatoire and a constituent college of the prestigious University of London. Central provides specialist training in the dramatic and performing arts, offering Bachelor's and Master's degrees as well as short courses and PhD opportunities. Students from across the world study on Central courses, bringing a rich diversity of skills and experience to create a unique community and training environment.
All of Central's courses take place on the school's Swiss Cottage campus in Hampstead, a quiet, leafy corner of London which is only 10 minutes by tube from the bright lights of central London's West End theatre district. Central's campus houses the 234 seat Embassy Theatre, numerous workshops, rehearsal, movement and performance studios and the new £16.7 million state of the art North Block building comprising a studio dedicated to film, media and digital work and a galleried, courtyard theatre.
Central holds auditions and interviews for its courses across the globe, including San Francisco (4 and 5 February 2020) and New York City (8 and 9 February 2020). To find out more and to register your interest in being considered for a course, please visit the Central website here.
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