By Hannah Wyre
Introducing Thinking Actors... 'The one-stop hub for actors and those who work with them.'
As you know, our Manchester branch is based in the wonderful Media City, and among all the fantastic business there is Thinking Actors - providing workshops and classes for aspiring and professional actors.
"Thinking Actors provides a supportive learning environment to help you develop and refine your skill base. As part of that process, we use the latest Ultra High Definition broadcast cameras to aid performance evaluation. We work with a range of actors – from complete beginners through to advanced.
Our workshops centre on both script and improvisation to explore and refine performance. I like to work using a range of approaches from Stanislavski to Meisner. All classes and workshops are highly structured and purposeful learning events. It's about cutting through to the heart of things and finding your truth...As our key focus is about preparing you for castings and paid employment, we also look at cold reading technique and marketing".
Peter Carroll, the company director, has been fantastic with giving RSVP friendly advice before launching our new branch and we 100% believe in and recommend their services to all of our northern employees and clients!
We recently got in touch with Peter to ask him some questions regarding Thinking Actors...
How long has Thinking Actors been around for?
We launched in late June 2016 and opened for classes and workshops at MediaCityUK in September.
What previous experience in acting do you have? Did you have a previous job?
After graduating in Drama from Manchester University, I got my first real break on Saturday morning Children’s Television as a warm up artist. I’ve story developed for US television, been a travel show presenter with Granada-Sky satellite in the nineties and a format consultant for ITV Education.
I’ve worked in Drama Education for over twenty five years - as a practitioner, coach and examiner. After being approached by a Casting Agent to deliver screen acting workshops for emerging talent, creating Thinking Actors was a natural progression.
I’m currently involved in Co-Executive Producing a film with RTS Award winning director, Helen Lyons-Curran. I’m also on the selection panel for HOME Arts’ Filmed Up night in Manchester.
Why do you feel Thinking actors is crucial for those trying to pursue a professional career?
I spend quite a bit of time in the United States. I was recently in New York for the International Emmy Awards. American Actors know the importance of attending regular acting class - even the big names. It’s about growing as an artist - continually learning, refining and working towards mastery. It’s about being open to new challenges and thinking. It’s also about keeping connected to the industry. It’s so important to invest in your own career and its development. We provide a range of workshops and classes for actors and creatives of all abilities. We work initially with Stanislavski and move towards Meisner. We don’t dictate a specific method - but provide a supportive environment where you can explore, experiment and discover what works best for you.
What is the best advice you can give to someone who has just finished drama training?
Stay positive. There really has never been a better time. Above all, if you want a future career in this industry, stop working for free. Today. Professionally made means professionally paid. It’s never been about how much you’ve done, but what you’ve done. Be selective. Keep your generosity to registered charity, student productions and within an education/training setting. Due the minimum wage act, it’s actually illegal to work for free.The Arts have no special card to wave.
How important is it to make sure that you are keeping up your acting skills even after drama school?
It’s vital. Acting Classes provide an excellent social support network as well as the opportunity for continued development of your skill set. Acting is a business - you need to stay sharp and connected.
Is it essential to have had drama school training or can your workshops give aspiring actors enough training for them to go straight out into the profession?
Good training is good training. Casting is casting. Although a good drama school training is commendable, it’s not essential and carries no guarantees. Access to traditional training establishments is a growing concern for many - who may lack financial support or have life circumstances that facilitate its possibility. However, ultimately it’s after you leave formal education that the work really starts. It’s about embracing your casting type and branding on social media. Actors need to own and manage their career. Agents can be a little bit interested in who you trained with but Casting Directors won’t be - they just want you to be ‘right’ for the role.
What does Thinking Actors offer which other places in Manchester don’t?
A Casting Directors’ workshop should never be confused with an Acting Coach’s workshop or class. Too many classes are currently throwing scripts or sides at actors and getting them to jump through ‘what if/Given Circumstance’ hoops.
At an audition, a Casting Director will often make a suggestion that may bare no resemblance to the original Given Circumstances of the character in a script. They do it to see how good you are at taking direction. At Thinking Actors, we don’t just ‘direct’ you we actually ‘teach’ real techniques, approaches and an understanding of the mechanisms of performance. We know our Artaud form our Adler.
We often film - for evaluation and showreel purposes - in most classes. We shoot in Ultra HD, Cinema 24P full broadcast and take time and care to make sure our clients shine. It’s an immersive learning experience. We’re at the very heart of MediaCityUK and, as we continue to expand, we’ll be very much a part of the growing professional community there.
Our mission statement is to provide high quality, community-centred training and support for actors and creatives. We’re launching our Writers Partnership Program in 2017 and are committed to nurturing new talent. We have a range of visiting industry professionals lined up - with Masterclasses in Accent Development, Acting for Camera and Voice Over. We’ve also got plans for live theatre. We’re proud to be the city’s most switched on Acting Class.
Come and join us!