News Column

The drama workshop that made stars out of talented teenagers

November 18, 2013

YellowBrix

THE cream of Notts' acting crop reunited at the weekend to celebrate the city centre drama studio that helped launch their careers. It was 30 years ago that the Television Workshop was set up by director Ian Smith as the Central Junior Television Worksop, to help seek out the best young local dramatic talent.

Since it began, Mr Smith has helped bring the likes of Vicky McClure, Samantha Morton and Joe Dempsie to audiences across the world.

It still holds rehearsals for budding young actors in Stoney Street, in the Lace Market. In recognition of its 30th anniversary, the Broadway Cinema, in Broad Street, hosted a weekend-long retrospective of some of the films and shows its former members have starred in.

The event featured contributions from, among others, Vicky and her This is England co-star Andrew Shim.

The pair starred alongside each other in Shane Meadows' 1999 feature film A Room For Romeo Brass, and helped give a live commentary as the film was screened.

For Ian, who was also in attendance, the experience was an emotional one.

He said: "It's been amazing. This event was everything I imagined it would be and more. It's been a huge nostalgia fest."

The workshop has helped put its trainees in productions ranging from children's television to often uncompromising adult drama as well.

As Ian explained, the group's continued success has relied on making the young actors feel at ease with pushing their skills to the limit.

He added: "The quest for truth in the performance, that's quite central to any drama group.

"It's also having no fear, being able to go for stuff, not to hold back on whatever it is that you're asked to do."

Andrew Shim, who played the title role of Romeo in A Room for Romeo Brass, said the reunion had given him time to reflect on how the workshop had changed his life.

"It created a career that I never ever thought or dreamed of," he said. "The camaraderie, the friendship and the confidence it gives you changes your outlook on a lot of things.

"It makes you a nicer, better, more confident person. I could talk forever about how good it is." Another former workshop member is Aisling Loftus, star of the recent ITV drama Mr Selfridge.

She came for a showing of the 2011 TV adaptation of The Borrowers, in which she played Arrietty Clock.

Aisling, who is from Lady Bay, said there was only one reason why the workshop had been such a success.

"It's because of Ian, plain and simple," she said. "Ian is very special at tapping into what you've got. He's able to get into your most honest kind of self.

"I remember it being a huge amount of fun.

"It was playing make believe with the best young actors in the Midlands."

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.


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