Originally published in The Stage, November 2016
At a recent conference on screen acting training, there was a lot of talk about making students industry-ready. From self-taping to showreels, tutors were busy discussing what tools an actor needs to survive in the industry. But then the principal of Drama Centre London, Jonathan Martin, set down a provocation – should we really be training actors to be ready for the industry as it is today? Or should we be training actors who will challenge and reshape the industry (and the world) they graduate into?
Certainly, if you go back to the roots of Drama Centre, that challenge has always been there. Established in 1963 by a group of visionary students and by its three founding directors, John Blatchley, Christopher Fettes and Yat Malmgren, they had no desire to be ‘industry-ready’. Instead, they saw an industry they wanted to reshape. They wanted to radically alter the landscape. Drama Centre was created around the work of Malmgren, described by Drama Centre as “one of the great solo artists of European modern dance and the creator of the Laban-Malmgren system of character analysis”. The pioneering work of Malmgren remains at the core of Drama Centre’s approach and is taught across all of its higher education courses.