This week marks the end of the best six months of my life so far. I’ve finished my Foundation Acting course at the wonderful Oxford School of Drama.
It’s been a life-changing experience. I know most people cringe at that sentence, but it’s true in this case and there’s no less cliché way of me putting it. I know that turning up to a sort of farm which seems in the middle of nowhere, wearing all blacks and running about chanting things and making strange noises is some people’s idea of a weird cult, but to me it’s a second home.
OSD is one of the newer drama schools, but is considered one of the best in the world – up there with RADA and Guildhall. Our alumni are amazing, my favourite being Claire Foy (Wolf Hall, The Crown). Set in the gorgeous Oxfordshire countryside you can walk to school through the fields and watch the most beautiful sunsets (some like the African Savanna!) on the way home. Everything feels so free.
I love OSD because they don’t have a ‘type’ of actor – they embrace everybody’s individuality and we were encouraged to work with what we had already, rather than ‘reinventing’ ourselves. I think that’s key – to draw upon the essence of who you are and strip back the pretences. That’s how you can be truthful on stage (which is easier said than done, but we’re all a working process).
We worked long hours, sometimes staying quite late for additional rehearsals. Our tutors were inspiring, the work was ‘thrilling’, and I left more observant, open minded, and determined – sporting a nice arm of bruises following my knife and unarmed Stage Combat APC qualification exam.
OSD really is a great place to train – and I know by this point I’m being so much like ‘woo, go OSD!’ that I should get it tattooed on my face and ask them to pay me for product placement, but in case any of my readers are thinking about Foundation courses… check it out.
I completely underestimated how important an acting Foundation would be to me. I had a lot of misconceptions. I thought it was mostly a money making scheme for the schools, and that I’d be stuck in a room full of snobby rich people who would never stop rambling about Chekhov’s bloody Seagull, their gap year in the Bahamas with elephants, and their new Rolls Royce in Sapphire Maroon or some other luxury shade, all whilst sneering at me, not believing my town is a real place (happens a lot, it’s the name), and thinking being Northern means I’m seven centuries inbred. I thought it would be a whole year of playing ‘Zip Zap Boing!‘ till I wanted to gouge my eyes out and ‘getting to know myself‘ – which to me sounded utterly pointless. However, Foundation courses are NOTHING like that (at least not at good drama schools). Our work was challenging, demanding, intense, full of tears and laughter, sound and fury, signifying everything (somewhat a Macbeth reference there… ish) and I felt I was always learning something new. I was everything from a piece of chewing gum to real-life Louisiana Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau, from a flamingo to Euripides’ Medea. My friends, aka. my new acting family, were the warmest, funniest, most genuine beautiful souls and it’s only been a weekend but I miss them already.
One of my tutors ended by saying ‘This is one season coming to an end, but life has many seasons to come.’ In other words, this adventure is still only beginning for us all.
I wasn’t one of those people who got into drama school first time, and neither were a lot of the people on my course, or the people on the 3yr and Post Grad courses. So if you’re in the position of having not got in and wondering if it’s all worth it, KEEP GOING. It is absolutely worth fighting for. If you love it, don’t let anything stop you, because when you are there it all feels as natural as breathing.
Much love and a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has supported & encouraged me,
Han Roze xoxo