College Street Centre,
College Street, Nottingham, NG1 5AQ

01636 525107
Happy New Year! Yep, we realise we're a bit late, but this is our first blog of 2015, since shaking of the last remnants of the Christmas period.

Really don't like January, it's a gloomy old month, no money, cold and dark,Christmas and New Year just a distant memory, Spring seems too far ahead to get excited about, and the 87th Academy Awards, are still a month away!

We love the 'Oscars' and the idea of the dreams it conjures up in the hearts and heads of all young student actors/ film makers/directors, everywhere!...."One day that's gonna be me up there,clasping that statue" .....and why the shouldn't it be?! The likes of Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch and Rosamund Pike, all had to start somewhere. They were all young once, in a drama class, perhaps in some drafty church hall, with just the same hopes and aspirations!

For the fear of being disappointed, I sometimes feel we don't encourage our young people enough, and we try to protect them from the harsh realities and 'guaranteed' knocks of life. Instead we need to build up their confidence and self esteem and let them know that they can never aim high enough, never be afraid and never stop dreaming, whatever their ambitions. We all know the harsh realities of life and some may never attain the goals that have set themselves. but that doesn't ever matter, if along the way they have been given the tools to be the best they can be!

So, on 'Oscar' night, we're all allowed to dream, some of us of what could have been, but more of us, of what could be! Who knows, some of us may be walking through life, with a future winner!
support-iconSo I think last Thursday's workshop will probably go down with the students as the most entertaining ever!

We were extremely privileged to have the actor Adam Gillen with us (wearing our other hat as professional theatre producers, AGF Productions, we are producing his first play, but more about that another time) Adam is perhaps best known for playing 'Liam' in ITV's, 'Benidorm' as well as other numerous parts both on stage and screen, but, moreover, he is one of the loveliest and most down to earth people you could ever meet, as well as being incredibly funny!

The RADA trained actor spent two hours with us, and although, there were moments that he 'taught' the students, he mainly 'played' with them, bringing out a complete joy, which was truly inspiring!

Enjoyment in 'the art of acting' can sometimes be over looked, but it was bought to my attention again last week, when I was lucky enough to be able t sit in and observe entrance auditions at The Drama Centre, London. It was the 2nd recall stage, and as well as the obvious, the panel also made it incredibly clear that they were looking for the auditionee's to enjoy what they were doing and not to take themselves too seriously.

After all, acting is 'playing' , actors 'play' roles, in a 'play' and it is only when we are doing something that we truly love and which brings us pleasure, can we do it well!

So a massive thanks to Adam, you bought out the joy in all of our students and to The Drama Centre, in particular Rupert Frazer and Gabrielle Jourdan for being so welcoming towards me on the day, you too were inspirational!
We are into our final week of rehearsals for 'D' Day and can now announce how excited we are to have, as our special guest teacher and adjudicator for the day, Kate Bone, the head assistant at Nina Gold Casting (Les Miserables, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Paddington, The Imitation Game, to name but a few!)

Last week saw all of our students, perform their monologues in front of everyone, and they all voted for their favourite 10,( who will now go on to perform on 'D' Day) so all very democratically done!

It hasn't all be plain sailing though, and remember how in the last blog we mentioned the arts enhancing 'tolerance'? Well at some points this week, it seemed that it wasn't being enhanced quick enough!

We have had the odd ' fall out', numerous 'expletives' (both in monologues and from frustrated teachers!) and even a full on fight and blows being thrown (although in all honesty, the fight is a staged one, and part of the script for Blue Remembered Hills and the blows are thrown by Sidney in Nursery School Flowers : 'Sidney, pay attention Dear, and don't pummel Rosemary!') all part of the process though!

As John Abbott, of the Arts Ed school London say's : 'All rehearsals and performances should be voyages of creative discovery' so let's just hope that, on this final leg of our journey, the 'sea' is a little calmer and we reach our final destination, on Dec 7th, all in one piece!
Well, we got through 'D' Day, and what a fantastic day it was, although, what it has made us realise, is that we need more 'staff'!

Not only do we teach, do the admin, direct and produce all our productions, take on stage management and all technical aspects, clean, tidy, counsel children, wipe their noses, and produce professional theatre with AGF Productions, on this occasion, we ALSO made the buffet! (well Amanda did the majority of it, although I prepared my fair share of the sandwiches ) Super women, I hear you cry!! 'Tis true, or is it all just as Mr Shakespeare said, and as quoted in our earlier blog: ".....and one man in his time plays many parts....." We certainly do, but wouldn't change a thing!

We have always said that while AGF is our initials: Amanda's Grimsey and Fairclough, it could also stand for -A GREAT FAMILY, which is exactly how we see ourselves!

Every student is special and means something to us, and even though we shout and scream at them sometimes, they know not to take it personally, and that it comes from a place of love and is because we want them to be the best they can be!

Sunday was a good example of this. We know that every one of them was nervous, (even our 4 guest students and clients, from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and Tring Park school for the Performing Arts) and who wouldn't be?? They had to perform in front of one of the biggest international casting directors in the industry, Kate Bone from Nina Gold Casting ( Star Wars, Game of Thrones, les Miserables, The Kings Speech, Paddington, the list goes on) and they did it amazingly! Yes some of them messed up, or weren't as strong as they had been in rehearsals, but it really doesn't matter because we are proud of them all, just for going on this journey and for just getting up there!

Saying that, we have some incredibly talented young people and Kate commented on this, and she will keep in touch, which is fantastic! Doubt we have the next Darth Vader in our mists, but who knows, and anyway it doesn't matter, because they are all stars to us!
"....All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts....."

Without doubt, 'arts education' can be a means of developing not only confidence, but critical and creative thinking, but moreover it teaches us about people! How to communicate, tolerate, socialise and enjoy each other, and ultimately, if 'all the worlds a stage' how to enhance 'the playing of our parts'

At AGF, although we nurture our students, we also challenge them, all the time in the work that we give them, after all what's the point of making it too easy, what will they learn? In the end, we believe this will not only improve their 'acting and performance skills', but also go towards building well rounded, self assured individuals. However, this takes time, it isn't achieved over just a few lessons. But with commitment, hard work, courage and a lot of support from parents, the rewards are worth waiting for!

This week our students have been working really hard on their pieces for Drama Day and whilst many of them have been placed totally 'out of their comfort zone' with the work we have given them, we can already see the rewards coming to fruition and they should be very proud at what they are achieving!

Not all of them will go on to be professional actors, but for those that don't, we hope that being a part of AGF and learning from the lessons that we teach them, will go someway to improving their performances on the 'worlds stage' and help them to make their 'entrances' and 'exits' just that little more assuredly!


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