In its second year, The Other Room’s Young Artists Festival brings together actors, writers, directors and stage managers to produce a series of innovative theatre productions. These short commissions allow the chance for young artists to form their own theatre companies for the real experience of working on the fringe. In this series we will hear personal testimonies from five individuals as they challenge themselves to produce a performance after a gruelling week. Here is Emily Stroud, Tobias Weatherburn and Fred Wienand experiences of the Young Artists Festival.
Emily Stroud (Director)
Having newly graduated from university after three years of Drama and Theatre Studies at The University of South Wales, I thought taking part in The Young Artists Festival at The Other Room would be a great opportunity for me to sink my teeth into – I was right!
After occasionally doing some directing at university, and enjoying it, I thought I’d try my hand at it again. I directed ‘You Make Me’, a ten minute play written specifically for the festival by Joel Horwood. The rehearsal period was around two days, so after meeting my two fantastic actors we got straight to work. Having predominantly devised my own work, and previously experimented with physical theatre at university, working with text was somewhat new to me. I was intrigued to use what I had learnt over the past three years, and see how this would work with scripted dialogue. At first I thought I’d bitten off more than I could chew, but with some nuggets of wisdom, friendly advice and lots of kind words of encouragement from everyone involved in the festival… we did it!
I’m proud of what we created; I have learnt that scripted dialogue isn’t intimidating and also how it can work hand-in-hand with the movement of physical theatre.
We next got to work on a reading of a new play by one of the writers taking part in the festival. It was an experience so valuable, not only for the writer, but to the actors and myself, too. The whole week was a great success and I’ve left feeling inspired, motivated and excited to continue my path into the wonderful world of theatre.
Tobias Weatherburn (Actor)
This week has been an incredible experience. To get the chance to work with a completely new and diverse group of actors, writers, directors and stage hands is a gift.
We started the week with some workshops from some industry professionals from all different aspects of the industry and gained some invaluable information and tips. On Tuesday we were sorted into our companies with a writer and director to work on some original plays written for the festival. The scripts were a gift to work with and all were completely different in subject matter and final performance. It was a challenge working on our piece ‘You Make Me’ by Joel Horwood, but with the directorial skills of Emily Stroud, the process was a joy and we were thrilled with the final outcome. To be able to work on a professional playwright’s original piece is a treat in and of itself, because any take you have on it is completely unique and fresh.
This week has been one of the best I’ve had so far within the industry and has helped me create so many connections and lasting friendships. Having left Wales to train at the Manchester School of Theatre, I was worried that when returning to Wales, it would be hard to rebuild these connections. But my time at The Other Room has helped me develop a new network of contacts that I truly hope to build on as I further myself in the industry. It is safe to say that this has been one of the best things I’ve been involved in. Thank you The Other Room!
Fred Wienand (Director)
As a twenty-year-old student who hadn’t really had any previous exposure to professional theatre, and who certainly wasn’t too clued up on the vibrant Cardiff fringe theatre scene, The Other Room’s Young Artists Festival was almost a complete unknown. It turned out to be a threshold-buster; a challenge, but an amazing experience.
I suppose one of the most important things that I learned was the importance of an irrepressible self-belief when it comes to pursuing a career in theatre. Kate, Bizzy, Ben and the entirety of The Other Room team have this by the tonne, and it was a pleasure to feed off their energy.
As an aspiring director, the ability to direct a range of work is vital – and this was certainly something I managed during the Young Artists Festival. I was lucky enough to get my hands on Alun Saunders’ piece ‘Blue Sky Thinking’, which, for a ten minute piece, offered a great deal of depth and scope for a director to get their teeth into. Having a writer as part of the company was also a fantastic experience: as directing a piece in tandem with the playwright was also a taster of another important skill for any director.
The Other Room’s Young Artists Festival left me inspired and determined to pursue a career as a director and I am very grateful indeed for that!