A BLOG BY KATIE BRENNAN
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN MARCH 13th 2014
Last week I had the utter privilege to jaunt up to that hallowed theatrical haven, lovely old Stratford-Upon-Avon to work with the Year Out Drama Company. I spent a year here in 2005-2006 in that odd inbetweeny stage, too cool for school and too bewildered for the actual world. I knew I wanted to do SOMETHING DRAMA BASED but was totally lost and unsure what that was. I lacked also the wanderlust streak that so many of my friends had- the thought of bedding down in some scorpion-infested hostel in the arse-end of Thailand whilst everyone around me was off their tits on buckets of cocktails just didn’t appeal.
Luckily, Year Out Drama Company entered stage right. It’s a full-time, intensive training course aimed at those leaving school. Providing classes and workshops in all manner of performance based antics, from voice to mask, dance to choral singing, those skills are constantly put to good use by practical application in a company atmosphere. From the minute they start, the company is on a non-stop carousel of production projects, directed by a wide range of visiting directors. When I was a student there we did everything from Shakespeare, through Revenge Tragedy, to devised pieces, to MT moments, making a sharp left turn at the Ancient Greeks along the way, ending in the traditional annual jaunt to the Edinburgh Fringe.
I am aware that a lot of drama schools offer some sort of foundation course in these penny-pinching times, yet I maintain that there is something that Year Out Drama has that they don’t. The course is totally self-sufficient, and it is truly the students and the work itself that is at the forefront of the company ethos, as opposed to making a bit of extra cash to support a huge institution as I suspect a lot of other foundation (and post-graduate) courses are secretly designed to do. Each student is absolutely nurtured and cared about, and given the support, guidance and private coaching in order to help them realise their next step, be it drama school, university, or just being a top-class member of the world we live in.
I went up to co-direct the current company in a cabaret project, all based on the theme of travel. And I was bowled over, but not surprised at the sheer gung-ho attitude in which they threw themselves into the material and the work. Here was a group of students, most of whom do not list singing and dancing as their main skill set, who by the end of the week were giving it bloody big MT face along with the best of us. The spirit and love within that theatre that week was just glorious and made me BEAM with pride and slushy gushy love (as you can probably tell). Year Out Drama prides itself on recruiting the nicest folk around, in fact, a good attitude and wonderful spirit will see you land a place over a perfectly delivered audition speech here. When I was a student, I was surrounded by the most incredible people who changed my life forever, and it’s so fantastic to see that tradition still lives on unchanged.
If you know someone who is coming to the end of their school career, and has a healthy interest in the performing arts, I really cannot recommend Year Out Drama enough. Do look them up and get in touch, it really is a phenomenal place to spend one’s gap year. Click HERE for more details.
And I mean also, just look at how pretty the Bard’s Birth-town is!
Lastly, for any Year Out Drama alumni who may be reading this, I raise you a big old toppington sausage and send a big HOORAY your way.
TALLY HO LIFE LOVERS!
To find out more about Katie, you can read and subscribe to her blog HERE