I've wanted to train as an actor in the U.K. for about as long as I've known I was an actor.... Being offered a place at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (one of only three world-renowned British Conservatoires for Acting in Conservatoire for Dance and Drama) feels like it's been a long time coming, and at the same time—almost impossible to believe.
When I was about eight or nine I discovered my love for the theatre in a synonymous discovery with my love for Shakespeare.
About four years later I had the privilege of touring with the Berkshire Children's Chorus to Paris, Canterbury, and London. Rivaling the typical new-found interest in pre-teen flirtations and amateur photo shoots, was a budding passion for the theatre, Shakespeare, and the history of theatre in the U.K.
From that point on I was determined to study acting in England. While I was certainly beyond blessed to have the Shakespeare-haven of Shakespeare and Company (Lenox, MA) down the road from my childhood home and, every Fall, in my high-school auditorium, I was ever eager to find my way back to the U.K.
At the age of 16, I studied Shakespeare in Italy through the University of Dallas on their Rome campus, and traveling to Venice as well. It was an academic investigation of the text, but I found a way to bring drama into the picture:
In 2008, I started training at Boston University's incredible College of Fine Arts as an actor, always with an eye on their Junior Year semester abroad at LAMDA. When I got there, I once again felt an instant connection. Everything about the experience connected with me on a deeper level. I experienced the training as a student in a very different way—playing some of my all-time favorite roles as Queen Elizabeth (Richard 3), Lady Landsworth (The Beau Defeated), and Iago (Othello). I noticed a difference within myself as a theatre goer and also in the community of London attending the theatre. The was stories were being told in the theatre felt different to me. I resonated more deeply with the creative community. I felt like I belonged.
Leaving LAMDA was bittersweet. I had found a place that made me start to come alive in a way that I never had before as an actor, and a person. Before I went back to finish up at BU, I got cast in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Tour production of The Dick and The Rose with Outcast Cafe. The theatre I saw in Edinburgh (and made) was some of the most innovative, exciting, boundary-pushing, and in-touch that I'd ever experienced. The community of the Festival was the most open and encouraging- going by the motto that "if you could make it to Edinburgh, you could play in Edinburgh". And I discovered puppets... both as a puppeteer and as a theatre goer.
So I went home, got my BFA, moved to New York (did a fabulous "Best of the British" workshop with the Old Vic New Voices program), moved to Boston, and kept making theatre. All the while suppressing a deep need to go back to the U.K. and figure out what it was that made such a difference in my experience with the theatre both here and there.
Then last spring I started looking into a way to answer this deep calling and return to the U.K. for an extended period of training and study. I discovered that many of the best schools in Scotland and England (not to mention the world) offered one-year Masters courses, training actors in the tradition of the classic British conservatoire. I decided some research was in order.
I did a lot of reading, had some meetings with alumni of the courses I was researching, and decided to attend a couple short courses at Mountview Academy (started by the great Dame Judi Dench and run by one of my favorite acting teachers of all time from LAMDA, Stephen Jameson) and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (started by Sir Laurence Olivier, boasting an impressive alumni list including some of my all-time favorite actors, and highly recommended by a trusted colleague).
In London I saw the most amazing theatre on a cheap pence. My inaugural experience at The Globe was Emma Rice's fierce, brave, fun, vibrant, daring Midsummer. I saw the sharp, witty, brilliant, and on-the-nose Unreachable at The Royal Court. I saw Derek Jacobi slay, and make every pound of my ticket worth it, as an unexpected Mercutio in Kenneth Branagh's less than impressive Romeo & Juliet. I saw the poignant, artistic, articulate, and innovative Incident of the Dog in the Nightime. I also had an unbelievable weekend at wonderful Mountview Academy- learning major lessons and taking humungous risks in only two days, as well as making some life-long friends.