Drama Studio profile: Ashlene McGurk

What year did you attend?

2013 – 2014

Your best memory from Drama Studio?

My best memory of Drama Studio was our pre show warm up of our first performance of 55 Days in the Naughton Studio. The whole group of 2013-14 were so excited and prepared to perform after our weeks of training and rehearsals; there was so much infectious, positive energy that evening. The whole week of technical rehearsal before that night had opened by eyes to the huge amount of work and talent involved in getting a professional production from page to stage and it felt like such an honour to step out and perform after all the hard work of the whole team. I remember thinking how lucky I was to have been part of Drama Studio and the final show.

What skills have you found most helpful from your time in Drama Studio?

For me personally, the skill I still use most frequently from Drama Studio is one taught to us by Kieran Lagan who focused on the Chekhov technique. This technique involves training the body through psychological exercises as Chekhov believed an actor must first be comfortable in and understand themselves before they can take on the traits of a character.  We were asked to stand in front of the group and simply be present; no need to say or do anything, just be on stage as you are. For an actor this can be a daunting task but working on and perfecting the skill of being able to confidently and comfortably stand in front of a crowd as yourself is one that I have continually used since being in Drama Studio and it has helped me in many ways.

Why would you recommend Drama Studio?

I would urge any aspiring actor to apply for Drama Studio as not only are you training in the only producing theatre in Northern Ireland which is often a hub of activity and filled with professional creatives from every aspect of theatre but you are also given the chance to be taught by the best practitioners in the UK, Ireland and beyond. It is a chance to learn and polish skills which will give a fantastic foundation for building an acting career in Northern Ireland or heading to drama school. Beyond this, I learned a great deal about myself as a person through the training and felt my personal growth was aided greatly by my time in Drama Studio as well as my acting skills.

Tell us about a standout lesson.

One of the stand out lessons for me would be the workshop we had with Michael Corbidge from the Royal Shakespeare Company. It was such an interesting and exciting workshop where we not only gaining further voice training but were also taught a huge range of techniques on how to use movement and voice to gain a better understanding of a text like Shakespeare. I remember thinking how valuable those tools would be in getting a deeper understanding of any text or audition piece; so simple but so effective!

Describe your time in Drama Studio in three words?

Eye-opening, Jam-packed and Rewarding.

What are you doing now?

After a few years as a freelance drama facilitator, I am now the Customer Service Manager at the Lyric.


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