Andrew Griffiths' Blog

18 Dec 2013

Actorsworkshop member Andrew Griffiths is the latest in our members blog series.

From meeting new people, to having a conversation with a corpse. Actorsworkshop has provided all this and everything in between.

I’ve always been a performer. Not in a professional or technical sense, but certainly in a practical sense. You can’t be a successful teacher without it. During any classroom based career it is almost impossible to avoid performing. Whether you are dressed as Dolly Parton for the school’s Comic Relief event, trying to capture the attention of a room full of teenagers during assembly or feigning anger and disgust whilst rescuing a small boy with his head jammed under the door of a toilet cubicle, teaching requires a strong and committed performance.

It’s what led me to acting. That, and desperately trying to find a way out of the horror of Saturday afternoons with my two small children. 

I’d thought about trying acting before. I’d sung on stage many times and really fancied a go at acting. My original idea was to join an ‘am dram’ society. However, a few things put me off. Firstly I once had a colleague who was a keen amateur dramatist. She often regaled the staffroom about her latest triumphant performance as 3rd crowd member or the fact that she once played a cadaver in Pobol y Cwm. All notable successes of course but it doesn’t justify taking command of every school production and dressing like a cross between Oscar Wilde and Barbara Cartland. 

My second problem with ‘am dram’ was the commitment required. Most societies get together several nights a week plus performances and additional rehearsals. My professional and family commitments meant that this was a stretch for me. 

I also felt like I wanted to learn something about the technical side of acting. As a keen watcher of TV and film I’d often been captivated by the performances of certain actors who are just so incredibly believable without seeming to do much at all. I wanted to know what went on behind these wonderful performances and how actors managed to achieve this level of authenticity.

So I decided that some sort of acting training was the way forward. I felt this would give me the opportunity to learn something about acting and perhaps lead on to taking part in a few performances. I Googled ‘acting courses in Cardiff’ and got quite a few results. One of which was Actorsworkshop. 

The site was professional and informative, which was a good start. Most importantly I could see that there were a number of courses on offer for both screen and stage acting. The courses offered a progression from complete novice through to far more challenging training and performance. As such I felt I could grow and develop as I worked my way through the various training options. 

The Discover Acting course looked perfect. It was an introduction to acting and touched on many of the key skills to give people a real flavour of what acting was all about. Even better than that, it was just a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. The time commitment wasn’t too onerous and it was at the weekend which suited me perfectly. 

The course was brilliant and did exactly what it said on the tin. Not only did I get the chance to meet like minded people from so many different backgrounds but I got the chance to dip my toe into the acting craft. I caught the bug there and then. I really got the idea that the words on the page were such a small part of the performance. I found it intriguing and exciting and I wanted to learn more.

Since then I have taken part in the level 1 stage course ‘The Stage Academy’ which culminated in the performance of a scene in front of an invited audience. I absolutely loved it. The course really taught the value of listening and reacting to other actors and situations to make your performance authentic. I had a great partner to work with and we gave our scene a good go. We forgot our lines of course, but nobody noticed. This in itself was a good indicator of how much we’d learned on the course.

The thing is Actorsworkshop has had more of an impact on my life than I thought it would. I was asked to become a member of the Actorsworkshop 'Advisory Panel'. The Advisory Panel meets a few times a year to discuss what’s working well and what could be changed or included to make Actorsworkshop even better. This has given me a great opportunity to have some input. It has also given me the opportunity to watch the performances of students on other Actorsworkshop courses. 

Then came my biggest challenge to date, ‘Rough Draught’.

During the stage academy course I mentioned to our tutor that I wouldn’t mind trying some writing. He told me about ‘Rough Draught’, a collaboration between Actorsworkshop and Porter's Bar. Budding writers would submit scripts on a given theme. A number of scripts would be chosen and then, after a few hours rehearsal, performed script in hand on the stage at Porte'rs. This sounded perfect. I didn’t get to submit a script but I was contacted and offered a part in one of the scripts that had been selected.
I was extremely excited but very nervous. It would be my first time acting in front of a ‘proper’ audience and with only a short amount of rehearsal time. I got the script the day before and had a look through. I had the only speaking part and it was also comedy which I had never done before and I knew would be a real challenge.

To add to the challenge my part involved acting with... a corpse. 

It was a fantastic experience. Being on an actual stage, however small, with proper lighting completely obscuring the audience was different to anything I had done before. The added pressure of getting laughs where I should added to the excitement. I gave it 100% and got through it unscathed. I felt really proud to be involved as the other actors were much more experienced and very competent indeed.

So where next?

I’ve signed up for the level 2 stage course as I feel this is the area I want to pursue. Since starting with The Actorsworkshop I have also undertaken numerous roles as a film and TV extra and have met a few famous people on the way. I’ve also taken the lead role in a student film and have more roles in my diary for the new year.

I would recommend Actorsworkshop to everyone. Not only has it given me a new professional avenue and a new circle of friends but I have also had the opportunity to lift a corpse out of a bowl of cornflakes. Where else would you get that opportunity?