Name: Emma MacLennan
Course: BA (Hons) European Theatre Arts (ETA)
Like most people graduating from drama school, I left hoping to work. What I wanted that work to be however, I was less clear on. I’d gone to Rose Bruford knowing I wanted to be an actor, but had left as a European Theatre Arts graduate – with a wealth of knowledge and appreciation for different art forms, and an awareness of the multitude of roles I could have within them.
In saying that, I have ended up going down what some would call a more traditional ‘acting’ route; but I feel that is because the industry is changing, allowing performers more freedom to define their roles within it, rather than me seeking it out. Like most ETA graduates, I have varied interests and skills, and these have manifested themselves in the types of work that I do. I like to work visually and physically, so have made a lot of work for young and family audiences, performing across the globe for theatre companies such as Tall Stories and Les Enfants Terribles. I work well as an improviser and facilitator, so have worked extensively in immersive theatre, with companies such as Punchdrunk, Coney and Look Left Look Right. Puppetry was a skill I developed after ETA, but it now defines a lot of my work – from being an actor-puppeteer in theatre productions, to working as a reference puppeteer and movement artist on big budget feature films.
So I guess the big take away from ETA for me was adaptability, and the ability to work well and thrive in an ensemble. A lot of the work I undertake now still utilises all the core skills I honed on ETA – be that creating a character physically, using my voice in expressive and usual ways, or devising something from scratch. Having the space to pursue what specifically interests you about your industry is something I think is unique and a great strength of this course; as is encouraging you to think of yourself as a practitioner with a practice to bring to the table – be that creating your own work, or as a collaborator, or as simply an engaged and informed audience member.
If I could give one piece of advice to anyone starting out, it would be to value your relationships (both professional and personal) – a surprising amount of my work has come out of networking, from engaging with people, expressing and maintaining an interest in the work that they create. This ever-changing industry isn’t about sitting by the phone waiting for your agent to call, and neither are the performers that come out the other side of ETA.
Best Female Character Animation Performance, One Voice Awards 2018
Olivier Award Nomination for Best Entertainment & Family, Room on the Broom 2013
Fringe First & Total Theatre Awards, You Once Said Yes 2011