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Watching careers build up

One of the greatest pleasures of being an education journalist with a foot in the performing arts camp is meeting young actors at the start of their careers and then watching them develop.

I first met Nathan Wade at the Barbican some years ago when, at the show with a school party, he recognised me from my Stage profile. He and I have kept in touch ever since. He went on to train at the Lyric Hammersmith and has been through the excellent National Youth Theatre Rep Company scheme. A few months ago he was wowing audience with Boys at the New Diorama and he’s currently appearing in Aesop’s Fables at Unicorn Theatre. And it gives me a real sense of vicarious pride to think that he now has a proper career.

When I spotted talented Katharine Moraz in her Mountview graduate showcase some years ago I commented in my review that she was a lively performer. Afterwards her face bugged me because there was something vaguely familiar about her. Eventually I worked it out. I was on nodding terms with her at the pool in a Kent town where I then lived and, by coincidence so did she. It just took me a while to reconcile two totally different contexts. I’ve followed her career with interest and have seen her in a children’s show in Margate, in the national tour of Avenue Q, in the national tour of One Man Two Governors and other things as well as interviewing her more than once and bumping into her by chance in Kent several times. Now clearly well established, Katharine is touring in War Horse at present.

When Annemarie Lewis Thomas, whom I didn’t then know at all, started TheMTA (Musical Theatre Academy) in 2009 she invited me to sit in on some of the inaugural auditions which I did and wrote about at the time. I saw the talented Sam Hallion audition and was delighted when Annemarie and her colleagues offered him a place. Ten years later Sam has toured several times with Joseph and the Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat, played Matthew in the Jesus Christ Superstar tour, been in Little Shop of Horrors at Catford Broadway, starred in Polka Theatre’s Flat Stanley and done a lot of television work among other things. Nice to know that my gut feeling about his future ten years ago has since been proved right. Another student in theMTA’s inaugural intake was Samantha Hull whom I’ve seen working many times including in the London Transfer of Chichester Festival Theatre’s Half a Sixpence. She made her RSC debut last winter in A Christmas Carol.

A few years ago I interviewed Naomi Ackie just as she was graduating from Central, She had attended a summer school there three years earlier and thefore fitted the profile I needed for a piece about the springboard potential of summer schools. So I’ve noticed her successes: lots of TV including Game of Thrones  and film as well as theatre. I saw her in a show at Unicorn, not long after she graduated.

I find these profiles – and I’ve picked only a handful of examples from the many dozens I’ve had dealings with – really encouraging. And I’m honoured to have been in a position to witness their burgeoning careers.

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Susan Elkin
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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