Gillian Reynolds

The run up to The Casting Call was a nerve wrecking one alright!! The idea of meeting not one but TWO of Irelands top casting directors was constantly playing on my already busy head. You see I’ve been travelling for a couple of years and as a result of this I had stepped away from the acting industry. I was rarely in the same place (or frame of mind) for long enough to join a group or contact the people I should have been trying to make an unforgettable impression on. When I returned to Ireland I tried to re-connect with the few contacts I had from my past. It seems most of them followed in my emigrating footsteps but haven’t pulled the prodigal son act like me yet!!

So it has been a while since I have been in a room full of talented and professionally trained actors trying to impress the very people that we all hope to be working with in the future. We were asked to prepare for this day-long workshop by reading Sean Ó Casey’s ‘The Plough and The Stars’ and to have a 2-3 minute duologue of our choice learned and ready to perform. I spent two weeks straight re-watching films I remembered having good duologues in them. I was looking for a piece full of emotion that still told a story with a beginning, middle and an end. This was a much harder task than anticipated. I eventually remembered a great scene from ‘What Richard Did’ that was directed by Lenny Abrahamson. The scene between Richard and his girlfriend, Lara, the day after ‘the incident’!! You have to see this film if you haven’t already.

So the sunny (but still freezing cold…Ireland!!) Sunday morning of the Workshop was definitely a coffee fueled one! Me and 14 other sleepy but excited students made our way awkwardly to the Black Box Theatre in The Gaiety School of Acting, not sure what to expect. The first half of the day was to be led by Gillian Reynolds. Gillian has cast some of the highest quality Irish and British film, TV and commercial productions such as ‘Camelot’ and ‘Primeval’.

She came in with her coffee in tow and put us all at ease straight away with her relaxed and friendly attitude. We all introduced our selves in true actor workshop style, in a circle and shouting our name…..LAUGHING LEANNA (Mwah Ha Ha)!!! Gillian told us how she got to be where she is now……hard work mostly. She gave us some great advice. One thing she said in particular made so much sense but I had not thought about it in great depth before. Such a simple and obvious thing, yet straight away I knew I was making this mistake. “Know your acting age” – in my head I was able to play anyone from 6 years to 60 years old. We continued the morning by conducting improves, exploring our pre conceptions about our playing age and how to listen to directions that are given to you by casting directors. It was a very interesting and enlightening morning.

 Maureen Hughes

After a quick lunch and another coffee to warm us all up we returned to the theatre to be met by Maureen Hughes. Maureen welcomed us all back and filled the room with entertaining stories from her career from the Saw Doctors to ‘The Butcher Boy’. We had prepared the duologues for Maureen’s part of the workshop. She has cast the Irish hit drama ‘Love/Hate’ and in doing so has introduced numerous new Irish actors to the general population. Maureen worked one on one with each of us. We performed the scene of our choice with her. She filmed us and gave us direction and advice. We then re shot the scene following this direction.

 

Working in such a personal quarters with one of Irelands best and being advised, complimented and encouraged is a priceless experience. I left the workshop with the information and tips I needed to get my C.V., headshots and showreel in order. They told us what they look for from a C.V. and more importantly what they never want to see! I learnt a lot in the space of a few hours and have already seen the benefits from the changes I have made. If you have the opportunity to attend a casting or audition workshop with someone as knowledgeable as Gillian or Maureen definitely jump at it. Or any of the other courses and workshops that The Gaiety School of Acting are offering. We can all use a bit of insider advice and guidance.

Here’s hoping that I will have the opportunity to stand in front of them in the future and use their tips to get the extra advantage.

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REMEMBER to brush up on your acting skills with our specialised skilled workshop series over the summer! Try our TV presentation Workshop with Bill Hughes this Saturday 13th July from 10am to 5pm and don’t forget our ever popular  Casting and Auditioning workshop with Nick McGinley and Gillian Reynolds will be held on Sunday 26th May. On 16th June, Alan Shortt will be running Master the Media workshop. We also have some places available on our Voice and Accent Workshops. Call 01 6799277 or visit www.gaietyschool.com for more info.