BWW Blog: Wendy Gadian on the Importance of Touring with The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
Wendy Gadian is a musical director and musical arranger. She has been Principal Lecturer and Course Leader for the BA (Hons) Acting Musical Theatre Course at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London since 2008.
She is an Ambassador for Women in Musical Theatre for the Musicians' Union and is also co - founder of the organisation Ladies of the Stave. Wendy holds a Visiting Professorship at Universidad del Rosario, Bogota.
Central's BA (Hons) Acting (Musical Theatre) degree course provides graduates with the skills to work in classical and contemporary theatre, musicals, feature film, television and radio. Throughout the course, students explore acting through a range of contemporary approaches to sung and spoken voice, movement and dance.
The course collaborates with a wide range of artists, theatre companies and producers including The National Theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Really Useful Group, Complicite and the Opera School at the Royal College of Music.In this article, Wendy talks about the benefits of including a touring element as part of the curriculum on the BA Acting Musical Theatre Course at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
The plot of the 1983 British film The Dresser, starring Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay is based on the writer Ronald Harwood's experience as a dresser to the great English actor- manager Sir Donald Wolfit who was leading a troupe of touring actors to bring Shakespeare to the British provinces during the 1940's. The company are seen hurrying to catch a train to the industrial town of Bradford in West Yorkshire. The train is leaving without them when Sir delivers a booming command from the platform steps to 'STOP....THAT.....TRAIN'. The guard is so taken aback that he instinctively follows the order and Sir triumphantly leads his actors aboard.
Both Finney and Courtney were nominated for Academy awards, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes whereas Wolfit, at a time in his career when he was having to exchange the bright lights of London for the treadmill of touring around regional theatres, wryly observed: 'I used to be a tour de force. Now I'm forced to tour'.
For many, the opportunity to pack up the show and take it on the road is an exciting feature of professional life. As a student on the BA Acting Musical Theatre Course it's a chance to start testing out the new toolkit of acting training and putting into practice the all-important professional development. The stakes are high because students are expected to slot into the rhythm of a professional production schedule within a busy professional theatre.
'Touring with Central really allowed me to get professional experience so that when I got my current job (four weeks after graduating from the course) I felt calm and prepared! It also challenged me to adapt and use my skills and experience to suit each different theatre space.' Maddison Bulleyment is currently starring as ANNE BOYLEN in the UK National tour of SIX - THE MUSICAL!
'Being able to take a show out of Central was an invaluable experience during my time at drama school. Having the opportunity to learn about touring and everything that comes with taking a show to a different venue was an important process to learn and one that has stood me in good stead in my career since.' Jack Loxton is currently starring as JARED in the West End production of DEAR EVAN HANSEN.
We have been travelling to theatres in the East Midlands since 2012. This year we were guests at the award winning Curve Theatre in Leicester. We transferred our production of Boudica by Tristan Bernays, running two matinees and an evening production. Our audiences are predominantly 16 - 18 year olds from local schools and colleges. For just over 30% of the young people that watched the show in Leicester, this was their first experience of live theatre.
'It really did put the whole of drama school in perspective, and sort of made me realize that just by virtue of being a final year student at a place like Central, I'm in a position of being able to help and give confidence to people trying to break into the same sorts of schools and follow their dreams'. MAYA AELIN THOMPSON BA Acting Musical Theatre Student
And so it couldn't be a more important time to shout about theatre and the arts across the length and breadth of our country and to actively reach out and connect with communities in all sectors of society to ensure that we 'GET...... ON...... THAT..... TRAIN' to inspire, encourage and support the next generation of young performers and theatre makers.
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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