A few months back, we wrote about Paul Clayton’s latest book, The Working Actor, which was in stores from the 5th of May. We were so excited about this book that we asked Paul to share some of his thoughts with us, post launch. Without further ado, here’s Paul in his own words.
You’re in a rehearsal room working with a group of fellow actors. You’re being collaborative, and together with your director, stage manager, and possibly an assistant stage manager, you form a tightly grip group of people who are creating something rather special. Then there comes a day, usually in the last week of rehearsal, when the doors to the rehearsal room are thrown open and people are admitted to WATCH what you been doing. They may be perfectly nice people, empathetic people, and people who will eventually be part of the project with you – designers, costume designers, lighting designers, sound technicians – but on that particular day, they are strangers, and showing the work you have created in what has up ’til now been a private space, your rehearsal room, is always edged with worry.
‘The actors are come hither, my lord.’
(Hamlet, Act 2, Scene2)
The only moment Shakespeare’s Hamlet appears genuinely happy is when a troupe of actors arrive at the gates of Elsinore. Wracked with guilt over his failure to avenge his murdered father, betrayed by both his girlfriend and adulterous mother, Hamlet’s spirits rise as he greets a genuine band of brothers on stage. “You are welcome masters, welcome all. I am glad to see thee well. Welcome good friends.”
Among these friends, we find no producer or director. We learn that these actors are in need of a writer, a role which Hamlet is ready to take on for the performance of The Mousetrap the following night. But for the first time in the play, Hamlet has no doubts. When it comes to great drama, actors are the key to success.
Things have changed quite a bit since the seventeenth century. A shift took place with the rise of directors’ theatre in the early twentieth century. But it is the increasing dominance of film and television drama today that has changed the rule book for actors. Today the process is becoming the focus of attention, rather than the play.
Women in Film & TV (UK) is the leading membership organisation for women working in creative media in the UK, and part of an international network of over 10,000 women worldwide from a broad range of professions spanning the entire creative media industry.
We sit down with Natalie Samson, Head of Awards & Events, for a round of “Five Questions With…” to find out more about this brilliant organisation.
1. Each year you run a mentoring program open to women in the UK. Over the years you’ve had some wonderful success stories. Why do you think programs like these are so important for women in Great Britain (or even across the pond)?
I’ve actually been on the mentor scheme myself which is how I ended up working for Women in Film and TV (UK). I couldn’t rave highly enough about this scheme and think they are incredibly important for anyone. The WFTV (UK) scheme is aimed at mid-career women and Nicola Lees who runs it is brilliant, she has an uncanny knack of knowing what you need before you actually know you needed it.
I recently got a call from Directors UK, a fantastic organisation I’m a member of, telling me I had been selected to take part in a week long course training in multi camera Directing at ITV, at Media City in Salford, Manchester. The course and our expenses were fully funded by Creative Skillset. I readily accepted the place and was intrigued and excited to get started. I had previously only ever Directed single camera on drama and used two cameras very occasionally when shooting my latest documentary Still Loved, so I was keen to get stuck in and learn a new skill.
The course leaders were Kay Patrick and Ian Bevitt, two long standing Directors on Coronation Street, as well as many other programs. We were being trained to work on Coronation Street, using their house style, which I soon realised meant much more than using 2 cameras at a time! We were introduced to our 1st AD for the week, Woody Wade, and all the Heads of Department and Producer of Coronation Street, a really lovely, friendly bunch of people. They each explained their own roles and how things work on the show. We looked around the studios and galleries to see other Directors at work and get an understanding of the work flow and speed with which it is all put together. At the end of the day we were given our first script of the week, which we had to go back to our hotels and study ready to hand in our plans for the first shoot.