Start your career in Film, T.V. and Stage
A career in the performing arts can be a daunting thought which offers very little stability in either your short or long term future. But with the right choices, you can give yourself a skills base that allows you a vast array of employment opportunities, alongside the more obvious fame and fortune.
What jobs are out there?
I feel that there is still a slightly compartmentalised mentality to being a performer in the modern industry, certainly in the perception by those looking to break into the business.
But in reality, most actors and performers that I know have had a highly eclectic career ranging across Film, T.V. and Stage, have also worked as workshop leaders, facilitators, public speakers, teachers and a whole host of even wider applications.
Be clear about the range of choices out there and what kind of skills base they would give you
These roles especially draw upon the skills of clear communication, empathy and artistic interpretation to name but a few.
Even when employed full time as a traditional actor, the working days can vary.
You can find yourself finishing a job one afternoon being surrounded by a complete array of support staff (such as costume, make up and travel) to suddenly waking up the next day and getting changed in a toilet at the back of a community centre to entertain some retirees at an afternoon dance.
How can I make my performance career last?
Considering the above, I think two of the most important attributes you can have to ensure a lifelong career in the arts is firstly resilience.
And secondly a keen understanding of your full skills base and how it can be applied.
You must also ensure a solid foundation in your training to best build and sharpen that skills base.
Even when employed full time as a traditional actor, the working days can vary
Certainly there are many cases of performers who have not trained but still found themselves experiencing success over a sustained period of time.
However, this is not the norm and there are far more examples of people who have momentary success but over a long period of time find it hard to maintain a career.
My belief is that a professional training is the best way to build a foundation that will give you lifelong engagement.
Choosing the right path
Even if you do engage in professional training, you still have to be clear about the range of choices out there and what kind of skills base they would give you.
Do your homework and don’t just rely on the reputation of the place.
Visit if you can, ask if you can meet someone to talk about the programme and if possible, then chat to students and alumni. Try to build a picture of how you are going to be spending the next one, two or three years of your life.
At Wac Arts we regard ourselves as having a very modern training model that responds to lots of the industries new demands as well as imbedding a traditional training.
Additional skills such as aerial work or song writing or puppetry, exist alongside the normal rigorous classes of text work or dance.
These are all elements that may give you an edge when it comes to going to an audition. We also make sure that a majority of our teachers and directors are active within the industry and as well as developing our students they can also offer them viable pathways.
Do not underestimate the need to train your voice if you really want it to last a lifeline of work. Our head of voice works regularly across the west End theatres and screen; she would be the first to explain how each job creates a different demand on you.
It can feel long if you are at the start of the journey, but if you really are in it for the long haul then I believe it’s essential!
Steve Medlin trained at Rose Bruford Drama School and is a founder member of Unclassified Arts. He has appeared in TV and film productions such as Sweeney Todd, Jungle Run, Pump it up, The Nutcracker, Moth, Amar, Acbar & Tony and Sticks and Stones. He works as a movement director for a number of theatres which have included: The Young Vic, The Theatre Royal, The Tricycle, The Sheffield Crucible, The Liverpool Everyman, WYPH, and The Hackney Empire. He was theatre consultant to Nottingham Arts, Physicality and Visual Connection and is currently the Drama Module Leader and head of the 3rd year on the Wac Arts Professional Musical Theatre Diploma.
To find out more about their full range of programmes visit www.wacarts.co.uk.