Published September 2009
Published November 13
Actor Phoebe Gann tells us why she thinks working with local communities can really benefit young actors.
Phoebe started out as many actors do, studying English and drama at University. After graduating she went straight into working with Riding Lights Theatre Company, based in York.
In 2011 she was offered a place with the community arm of Riding Lights, Roughshod. With four other young actors she devised a sketch show, which they then toured across the country for sixth months, performing in prisons, schools, churches, and for youth groups.
She feels that learning how to perform for different communities and audiences can really benefit actors.
“Because you’re performing in front of so many different types of audience, ranging from a group of old people in a little village church, to a group of teenagers in an inner-city school, you have to adapt the way that you perform. It teaches you to be quite versatile with the material that you’ve got.
I suppose if you’re on a big stage and the audience leaves, then you don’t get to connect with them in the same way, you don’t get to talk to them afterwards and find out what they thought.”
As part of Roughshod’s work, Phoebe also carried out acting workshops with different groups. A skill that she feels can really help actors to become more employable.
“I think that getting experience in leading workshops and working with community groups is really invaluable. As an actor you kind of need to be able to have more than one skill.
Because acting jobs are hard to find and you’re not necessarily always going to be in acting work, if you’ve got a whole bunch of practical skills that you can offer to people then that can be really appealing.
Being able to offer to run a confidence-building workshop or a drama-skills workshop can be really beneficial. It’s just more tools in your toolkit really, to give you that little bit of extra money or experience.”
Phoebe was recently offered a part in Riding Lights’ Christmas show, her third job for the company. Evidence that working hard and impressing a theatre company can really pay off.
What do you think? Is joining a local theatre company a good way of getting into the industry?
Photograph by Martin Duke