Drama Studio 2020

Philip Crawford, Head of Creative Learning, looks back on Drama Studio in 2020.

“On Saturday 19th December I proudly distributed the programme for this year’s Drama Studio course.

It’s a moment I always enjoy – the document details all the sessions and the facilitators who’ll be running the workshops – but I am normally able to issue it on the first day of the course, not the last!

In August, we invited 43 applicants to come and audition for a place in Drama Studio. In socially-distanced conditions, admitting one auditionee into the building at a time, the panel of 3 watched all 86 pieces over 2 days. We whittled that down to 12 men and 12 women, who were invited to come to one of 2 three-hour recall workshops.

Stage Management kindly taped out twelve, 2 x 2m squares on the floor of the Rehearsal Room and against all odds, the workshops were able to take place – carefully risk assessed and managed to comply with Covid regulations.

The final cohort of 12 students was selected and on Saturday 12th September we took a deep breath and started the course! We had little idea how things were going to change from week to week: would classes be ‘live’ in the Lyric on Tuesdays and Saturdays or would we have to resort to Zoom workshops?

It’s always exciting to welcome visiting facilitators to Drama Studio – we have a number of practitioners who join us every year from London and Dublin – but with travel arrangements so unpredictable, that looked an unlikely possibility. However, we also have a strong local team, all of whom were willing to come in as usual and ensure that no learning opportunities were wasted.

Later in the term, we were able to have 2 visitors: Michael Corbidge (Royal Shakespeare Company Associate on Voice & Text) and Zeb Soanes (BBC Radio 4) led inspirational workshops on Voice and Radio Technique.

Sessions on Acting Technique, Shakespeare, Physical Theatre, TV & Film, Professional Advice, Creative Writing, Commedia dell’ Arte and Radio were all packed into the programme – some on Zoom, sometimes with a few participants on Zoom, but mostly in the Lyric. Despite all the obstacles in our path, none were cancelled.

The course normally ends with an invitation for colleagues and friends to come and observe actors working on scenes from a play. In the absence of that live event, we made the most of the challenge and concentrated on recording duologues from an American play called Last Train to Nibroc by Arlene Hutton.

In the final session, we all gathered around the wireless (well, the laptop and a smart speaker) and listened to a recording, made by our 12 young actors, of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, aptly reflecting on the events of Drama Studio past and looking forward to Drama Studio future.”