Shannen McNeice (Lyric Drama Studio, 2015), currently in her third year of actor training at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, McNeice has recently been awarded the Laurence Olivier Bursary from The Society Of London Theatres. Shannen appeared at the Lyric’s Naughton Studio in Tom Murphy’s The Patriot Game
and The Heresy of Love
by Helen Edmundson. She competed with 40 other Drama School students, performing two monologues to a panel of judges, all industry professionals, at the St Martin’s Theatre in London's West End. She chatted to us here about her course, the award and her time at Drama Studio.
How did it feel to be awarded the Laurence Olivier Bursary from The Society Of London Theatres?
It felt amazing. I don't think I have ever been as proud of myself as when I found out that I was one of the winners. It felt so big, especially being from Belfast and going up against some very prestigious drama schools and their students.
Can you name one positive thing and one negative thing about the cancellation of the awards for you?
I think the positive of the cancellation is that the award feels more like an intimate win for myself, rather than a public display of success. Plus, if the awards were still going ahead in this current climate, it would be unsafe and quite daunting so I very much appreciate that the right call was made.
However, of course there feels like negatives from my point of view because honestly, I was just so excited to be attending the Olivier Awards and to be surrounded by so many actors that I've looked up to for years.
Will there be some sort of virtual showcase for agents now it can't be live?
Yes! Royal Welsh have decided to do an online showcase which I think will be a fantastic way for us all to be seen and I can imagine it might mean we could be seen by more people.
Tell us about Drama studio and how it helped paved the road to the Royal Welsh?
Going to Drama Studio, without a doubt was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Not just in the fun and enjoyable aspect that it brings, but in terms of my career. It was my first taste of a professional dynamic, and being led through workshops and acting techniques every Saturday was so invaluable. It taught me such a sense of professionalism and what it really takes to be able to handle the intensity of drama school. I cannot recommend drama studio enough and the amount of care and dedication that Philip Crawford puts into the course is immeasurable. Without Philip and without Drama Studio I don't think I would've found the confidence in myself to apply for drama school.
How are you finding Cardiff?
I LOVE Cardiff. I feel like the city itself is so similar to Belfast, so it wasn't hard to make myself comfortable there. Plus, welsh people may be the loveliest people I've ever come across! I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss Cardiff right now.
Any advice for Drama Studio aspiring actors like yourself?
Please just don't be apologetic for being in the audition room! I think that as people from Northern Ireland we are inherently apologetic and we have no reason to be! We are just as talented and just as deserving to be seen and heard as anyone else. Be confident in yourself and your ability. Even if you don't move forward in an audition process or book that acting job, it doesn't mean you're not talented. And just remember, these people auditioning you WANT to see you succeed so try not to let your fears or anxiety get in the way.
In light of the current situation are you involved in any virtual creative projects you would like to share?
As it stands, I've been focusing mainly on perfecting my online showcase speech for RWCMD and I've been sending out self tapes to agents and casting directors, so my first 2 weeks of isolation has been a bit hectic trying to figure out how to be a graduate in this current situation. However, I do plan to involve myself in some things to keep me busy once everything has calmed down.