Whoever these graduates may be one thing is absolutely certain: they will be embarking upon one of the most unique and invaluable experiences available to someone who wishes to pursue a career in the theatre. They will be given a year’s worth of productions in order to learn, develop and flourish under the tutelage of some of the best theatre practitioners in Britain, and, most importantly, in total financial security. All of this past year has was made possible by the generosity of the Robertson Trust. It is their organisation that funds the Graduate Scheme and should a graduate actor wish to achieve a similar level of professional activity in their first year outside of drama school it would prove to be very difficult indeed - in the entirety of the UK only the Dundee REP provides a similar scheme.
Due to the opportunity the Robertson Trust has provided I have spent the past seven months steeped in the Scottish theatre industry and, naturally, have learnt a great deal as a result. I have been given the chance to take things I learnt at drama school and put them into practice whilst learning an entirely new set of skills from a plethora of different actors, technicians, assistant directors and audiences; I’ve been on tour to Leeds at the West Yorkshire Playhouse learning the intricacies of ‘digs’ and how fantastic it is to spend every moment of your day with the company your working with, your offstage relationships bolstering the ones onstage. I have made incredible friends.
There are several more tangible successes I can cite as to the importance of the Graduate Scheme. As a direct consequence of my time at the Citz I have had two further offers of employment and Lucy is doing equally well and straight after Far Away finished began rehearsals for a production of Lee Hall’s Spoonface Steinberg that will be opening at the Jermyn Street Theatre in early July.
The Robertson Trust’s continued support for the Graduate Scheme at the Citizens Theatre can only ever be an immensely valuable thing. It will ensure that a wealth of opportunity continues to be available for graduates when they need it most within an industry that is overpopulated, financially precarious and, at times, incredibly frustrating, however, one that is incredibly special. For me, it is something I have longed for since I was young, have worked incredibly hard to succeed in and will continue to do so buoyed by the prospects the Robertson Trust and Citizens Theatre have made possible. I am immensely grateful for the opportunities both organisations have given me this past year and would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all concerned.
Thank you also to all of you who have been reading this blog. It started off as something we thought would be rather cool to do and although some bits didn’t come to fruition quite as we intended (including Lucy’s coverage of Takin’ Over the Asylum – she apologises) we hope it has been interesting and gave a small insight into all the various goings on that this incredible building allows.
For Lucy and I now begins the tricky bit. A rather astute man once said of the acting profession that “it’s a marathon not a sprint”. By this he was referring to the fact that in this profession longevity is the true prize to aim for, to make your career last from a fledgling graduate just having left drama school to a seasoned RSC actor, still throwing yourself about the boards in your old age. To put things in perspective: out of the 19 other students that I graduated with on the BA Acting course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland last July five have already changed careers.
But it all keeps coming back to love. It is why Lucy and I auditioned for the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in the first place and why we will continue to keep throwing ourselves back into this most ridiculous of professions until it kills us. Love is also what you will find permeating through every splinter of the Citizens Theatre’s ancient Victorian architecture, it is present in every piece of work that it produces and is itself produced by some of the most dedicated staff I've ever seen.
Will Lucy or I see this sight again? We really don’t know. But whatever the future holds one thing’s for sure: It’s been quite a year.