College students take up top theatre and film roles
STUDENTS are being urged to sign up for performing arts courses at Stoke on Trent College as yet another former student secures a West End role.
Former BTEC Diploma student Christopher Hollinshead from Birches Head, is currently understudying the lead role of journalist Joe Schofield in the impressive political drama Chimerica, which opened last month to amazing reviews at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London.
Chris studied for a First Diploma in Performing Arts at the College before going on to study for a National Diploma, then secured a place at the prestigious Manchester Metropolitan University before going on to star in several theatre roles including Romeo & Juliet at the New Vic.
“Chimerica is selling really well and has had some great reviews. One of my friends tried to get a ticket to come and see it and couldn’t get one, and Meryl Streep came along to see it the other day. The story is all about the about American photojournalist, Joe Schofield, who tries to find the lone protester who confronted a tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Joe is currently played by Stephen Campbell Moore, who was in the History Boys, and I understudy him and I’m in the ensemble so I play about four roles within the play. I actually got my first professional job came while I was at Stoke on Trent College, as I was spotted in a college production and was taken on to play PC Meadows in Loot at the New Vic. The BTEC course at the College was very good, and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have got into Manchester Metropolitan. Manchester Met has a great reputation as one of the leading schools and you have to audition for a place, and tutor Martin Alcock coached me and helped me prepare five speeches which I still use when I’m auditioning. We didn’t just do drama but also contemporary dance, which I think is vital to anyone thinking of becoming an actor, and we were exposed to lot of practitioners so when I got to drama school it wasn’t all new to me. I would advise anyone thinking of acting to stick at it. I’m from a small town in Stoke and I never thought I’d be in the West End, but it comes through hard work. I’ve trained for six years – I could have been a doctor by now – but you just need confidence in your ability and that’s what you develop at college.”
And Chris isn’t the only former Stoke on Trent College performing arts student to have trod the boards in the West End.
Mark Anderson has joined the ensemble on The Book Of Mormon which came over from Broadway to the UK this year and is at the Prince Of Wales Theatre in London.
Former student Rob Armstrong now stars in the national tour of Wicked, having starred in the West End in the Alan Bennett musical, Betty Blue Eyes, while former theatrical make-up student Jessica Wright is a make-up artist who has worked on the Peter Jackson Hobbit films and is based in New Zealand.
Performing arts lecturer Martin Alcock, taught them all, and says the key to the success of any actor is hard work and determination.
“The three lads were always very strong performers and we’ve always had a strong musical theatre tradition here at the College, so it’s no surprise two of the lads have gone down that path. We now have a succession of students who are working as good solid jobbing actors and actresses and it’s what we pride ourselves on producing here. I think we get successful students because all the staff here teach from a professional perspective. Everyone I have worked with over 19 years has professional expertise. We’ve all worked in the business and been trained professionally so we train from that perspective. You have to put up with a lot of rejection and disappointment and you have to slog your way through, and all of these students have worked extremely hard and it’s paid off.”
The College is recruiting students now for performing arts courses based at the Burslem Campus, and anyone interested should call 01782 208208 for further details.