The Actors Centre

What a difference a month makes

11 March 2016

Recipient of the Joseph Millson Bursary, Thomas Farthing writes about his experiences.

Back in October I had the immense good luck to be the first person to receive the Joseph Millson Bursary. I was over the Moon and past Pluto. Thanks to Joseph I have now completed the ‘Get into Acting’ course at the Actors Centre, I am now a full member for a year and I am yet to book my place on the ‘Get into Screen Acting’ course. I cannot wait to get it sorted.

Joseph has been helpful and supportive. Living quite far away in Derby it would have been difficult for me to attend the Actors Centre under normal circumstances. By funding these courses and my membership, he has given me the opportunity to have access to this high level of learning and experience and it is invaluable to me. From the bottom of my heart Joseph, thank you! Paul Clayton (Chairman of the AC) has also been very welcoming and supportive and I am truly thankful to him as well.

I’ve been asked to sum up my experience of the acting course… well “What a difference a… month makes!”

The course began gently with classes on movement and voice. It was really interesting and took the focus off our external selves and onto our bodies from the inside. As a ‘worried thinker’ I found this really relaxing and it made me aware of my whole body but not in a self-conscious way. The vocal exercises were very informative, and gave me some great techniques to allow resonance in my voice. I learned a lot on the first two days, mainly physical methods which are difficult to describe verbally but once you’ve done them the benefit is felt immediately. As a group it was hugely beneficial, it broke down the normal social barriers you automatically have around people, quickly getting us comfortable with each other. It was really important for what would come next.

For the body of the course we worked on improvisation, sub text, Shakespeare, modern text and character. These subject headings sound compartmentalised, but the course itself flowed and blended these topics with gentler seams. All involve exploring the craft of acting, and each topic informed the next. The course is totally inclusive, people of all abilities, from experienced to first time actors. Laurence sets the bar high for each person in his class and once you get to the bar, he challenges you to get to the next one, which is exactly what I needed and wanted. Some people had experience, some had never acted before.  EVERYONE, whatever their starting point, made miles of progress by the end.

Also… it was fun! It was really fun to get to know and work with such an awesome bunch of people. We were different ages, races, sexualities, nationalities, personalities and we came together and worked hard, laughed and learned. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say we had a fantastic experience.

In terms of my personal development I really feel sharper. It’s like a chunk of confused baggage around my head is gone and now I feel clearer. My attitude has been changed, not completely re-written, but re-worded and what was there before has been refined. It sounds like a lot to happen in just four weekends, but as with life you really learn by doing. This is a cool, active course. If you’re not learning by doing it, you’re discussing it or watching the others do it.

I’ve changed my mind about a lot of things, I realise how prejudiced I was against improvising and Shakespeare. I had just not experienced them properly before, not looked at them the right way. I now can’t wait for a chance to do Shakespeare again. Improvising would often get me worried about being entertaining, feeling a pressure to perform and be ‘funny’. Improvising is not ‘whose line is it anyway’! Like all acting it’s about authenticity and truth. Realising that has been such a refreshing experience to me.    

I cannot recommend this course enough. It does not matter if you have never acted or if you have, you WILL learn on this course. It has made me so hungry to get further training and experiences. If you have never acted before, then I envy you doing this course because it gives you so much of the good stuff and will save you from picking up bad habits!

I loved the course. I felt challenged, informed and safe. I’ve learned so much. I feel energised and very hungry to learn and play more. I definitely want to be an actor. I’m currently looking at ways to develop my career and I can’t wait for the next phase of my training at the Actors Centre to begin!

Thomas Farthing - First Recipient of the Joseph Millson Bursary, Actor and Member of the Actors Centre

If you would like to experience what Tom is talking about, you can check out the Get Into Acting course here.