Acting, at its best is egalitarian accessibility matched to absolute precision in craft. The performer is entrusted with the story-telling and must communicate utility of plot, character and theme. They are a kind of shamanic channel to and from audience emotions. It’s not a career one masters with ease or without direction. To excel? You should learn from the best.
One truly inspirational training ground for the field is the ARTISTS THEATRE SCHOOL, founded by AMANDA REDMAN. Versatility in genre is one of the things Amanda does so well. There’s a sense of aesthetic and ethics to the work. You always come away with a kind of moral motif from the performance.
Her screen presence provokes reflection on the human condition, as great acting should. The audience remain engaged, whether the material is deeply dramatic, warmly comedic or somehow fuses the tones. Watch New Tricks: Amanda can jump genres within a single episode and it all just flows, naturally, in the performance.
Hard work. Attention to detail. Broad range but total focus on each and every project. Inspirational stuff! Artists Theatre School mirrors its founder’s ethos, as I see it.
Amanda auditions each and every student wherever possible. The September term comprises different master classes per week with various experts in their field within the industry. Amanda is there to observe as much as her schedule allows.
From January, Amanda directs a show and has done since the school began in 1998. She makes it work around her professional schedule.
I had the honour of sitting down with the school’s key team. Amanda herself led the answers to my questions. Double fan-boy moment! On one hand, a lovely surprise. On the other? Just typical of her dedicated engagement: helping others, via theatrical arts.
Here we go!..
Q: How has the last year been for you all? Very tough, I imagine. And yet in a way, a call to theatrical action and art, to rally and inspire budding actors?
It’s been tough, like it has been for everyone. We had to cancel the July 2020 show. We were allowed to re-open in September but by then, we had lost some of the students due to changing circumstances during the pandemic. So were unable to mount the same production.
We decided on a revue which gave us more flexibility but then we lost two key members of the cast and had to re audition and jiggle round parts. And then because the rules changed for the theatre three times , we had to change choreography and blocking each time, resulting in not having as much rehearsal time as I normally would like.
Q: Film acting is different as a medium from what a performer might do on the stage. But do you see common ground in the training?
Acting, whether it be on screen or on stage is fundamentally about truth. This is what I look for when directing students for stage and also what actors should strive for on screen. There are various techniques that need to be employed for stage, such as projection, that are not as necessary on screen. However, there are different disciplines that need to be employed for screen acting that are complex and require a lot of inner focus.
Q: Can a spell at the Theatre transform the budding actor’s perspective on the work, or is that ethic and commitment and talent ‘there’, already and the school hones the discipline?
I believe that in order to become a professional actor, you have to want it more than anything else in the world. You have to live, breathe and eat it. Of course there are a lucky few (and I mean few) who achieve their goal without the burning passion, but in my opinion, the passion has to be there to begin with and the desire to go the extra mile.
Q: Acting and performing are just two cogs of the Theatre and film wheels. Do you give students a taste of directing, producing, even writing and design?
Yes. Students have written. Students have designed. Now producing and directing.
Q: If you could have anyone from the world of film come in and give a workshop, who would it be and why?
From the film world, Spencer Tracy. He was the most consummate actor I’ve ever witnessed on so many levels.
THANK YOU, AMANDA AND TEAM!
MOVIE TRIVIA: Amanda was first choice for Dr Elsa Schneider in INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE. Scheduling difficulties, plus the small problem of handling multiple RATS being the clincher meant the role had to be re-cast. Alison Doody is lovely in the part. But wow: to have seen Amanda play opposite Harrison Ford /Sean Connery would be quite something! I suspect there would have been great chemistry and the ‘turn’ in the character would have been maybe subtler, more brutal, even?
Amanda also starred in SEXY BEAST with RAY WINSTONE and he, in turn, went after a certain crystal skull in a race against..yep..INDIANA JONES!
Memo to James Mangold: cast Amanda in Indy 5 (now shooting at Pinewood..).