Gonna make you a star

Birmingham Rep to create training programme for actors.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre is to create a professional training programme for local actors. The new initiative will form part of the company’s successful REP Foundry artist development programme with the new Foundry actors’ group offering 10 West Midlands based actors, aged 18-30, weekly training sessions over six months.

REP Foundry was launched in 2013 by The REP’s artistic director, Roxana Silbert, as a way of discovering and supporting local writers, directors and theatre makers at the beginning of their careers. Now, REP Foundry will offer local actors the same opportunity. It will be funded by a number of sources including trusts, foundations and local philanthropists meaning actors will not have to pay any fees.

The decision to start a REP Foundry strand specifically for actors was to fill what Roxana Silbert believes as a gap in the industry. As she explains: “The Foundry actors’ group above all is an opportunity aimed at West Midlands based actors who may not have been to drama school or for whom drama school wasn’t or isn’t an affordable option. It aims to fill what we perceive to be a gap in the industry – that is, free professional support, training and learning with real hands on experience at a leading regional producing theatre.

“We have a remarkable history of supporting and nurturing theatre artists that goes back to our visionary founder Sir Barry Jackson and I’m thrilled that we are able to continue his legacy by forming a new REP Foundry section for emerging actors.”

As well as the weekly sessions there will be several intensive week-long programmes. The focus of the training will be devised and physical theatre, multi-disciplinary work and new writing alongside key skills such as movement and voice as well as casting and industry orientation. The aspiration is to form a group that will showcase the region’s talent and also create links with the existing REP Foundry writers, directors and theatres makers with the aim of them extending their own individual skills whilst developing new work together.

The REP has a long legacy of encouraging new writers and theatre directors, and REP Foundry has rapidly established itself as a springboard for emerging talent. In its first two years, and having supported 36 artists, there have been a number of successes.

This year four former Foundry artists will have premiered their plays at The REP – Stephanie Ridings, Hannah Graham, Selina Thompson and Paul O’Donnell. Spoken-word artist Amerah Saleh has been made an Associate Artist of The REP, 2013 Foundry artist Jo Newman is now Resident Assistant Director as part of the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme at Salisbury Playhouse, playwright Joe White is now the Channel 4 Playwright in residence at Shropshire-based Pentabus Theatre and writer/performer Francesca Millican-Slater has premiered and toured her one-woman show, The Forensics of a Flat.

The REP Foundry actors’ group will begin in October 2015 and will run for six months ending with a showcase in April to be held in both Birmingham and London. The course will be run by The REP’s Associate Director, Alexander Zeldin and Assistant Director, Daniel Bailey.

A series of workshops will be held across Birmingham in September and early October for those interested in applying to be part of this new wing of the REP Foundry. Anyone wishing to apply must be based in the West Midlands, 18-30 years of age and not have received a full time drama school education. To find out more email foundry@birmingham-rep.co.uk .