07 May 2018

AFTT grads and lecturers working together on upcoming production

There is nothing we love to see more than our graduates and lecturers all working together in the industry.

So, we grabbed AFTT grads Alana Birtles and Matt Bartlett for a chat about the upcoming production of 'Troilus and Cressida' that is stacked with AFTT talent both on and off stage.

What have you been upto since graduating from AFTT?

Alana: I have performed at the Sydney Fringe Festival and Short and Sweet Festival in an original work by a former AFTT student. I played Ariel in an outdoor season of "The Tempest" (Shakespeare), and appeared in "The Winter's Tale" at the Depot Theatre last year. 

Matt: The bulk of my time has been spent trying to get work in indie theatre. I had quite a few unsuccessful auditions in the early days after graduating, but one of the first things they tell you at AFTT is to be persistent! I’ve currently been working with some other AFTT grads on an original play that we’re going to put on in Sydney Fringe later on this year. 

You're currently casted and working on the upcoming production 'Troilus and Cressida'. Tell us a bit about your role?

Alana: I auditioned twice for Sean, Jane and James (Secret House), and after my call back audition I was offered the role of Alexandra. Alexandria is Cressida's attendant, but they are also quite close friends. She is cheeky and witty, with good banter between herself and Cressida.

Matt: I’ve been lucky enough to be cast as Troilus. He’s the main romantic interest in the play, but he’s not your typical Shakespearean romantic type character. He’s grown up knowing nothing but war and that reality can really warp the way people see the world. You’ll have to watch the play to see what I mean! 

How is the production coming along so far?

Alana: The production is going really well so far. As with any show I think there's always a feeling of not enough time at some point, but we have a great cast and an amazing director who really knows his Shakespeare. I find it really inspiring to watch other people in the rehearsal room and learn from them, and I have a lot of people to look to.

Matt: I really think the production is going to be brilliant. The cast and creatives on this project are all so talented. It’s been one of the most satisfying projects I’ve ever worked on. The text itself is incredibly challenging. It’s not just any old Shakespeare and it hardly ever gets performed, so it’s a real privilege to get to see it brought to life before my eyes.

The production has a large number of AFTT students working on it both on and off stage. How much does it help having a number of like-minded people working on the same production?

Alana: It's really nice to work with AFTT students/graduates.There are some cast members that I knew from college but never got a chance to work with while there, so this is a really great opportunity to put all our training into practice and get to know each other better. To go from fellow students to colleagues is a really nice connection to have. it also gives us a common language to use with each other.

Matt: I think the brilliance of AFTT training is that we needn’t be especially like-minded in order to work well together. What I think makes that possible is that we all have the same grounding in our approaches to acting, so when we come to areas where we differ in our work, we know how to turn that challenge into a strength. It’s also very helpful that we all have a similar language and vocabulary when we talk about interpreting the text.

How did your time at AFTT help you prepare to enter the industry?

Alana:  My time at AFTT was invaluable and I really loved it. We learnt about the logistics and business of acting, from headshots, showreel, CV's, audition prep to what is involved in pitching your own idea and putting on a production. AFTT also offered a great networking opportunity as many (if not all) of the tutors are working professionals in the industry.

Matt: The best thing about studying at AFTT is that the teachers there are industry professionals who are currently working. It’s helpful because they have an up-to-date understanding of the industry and they can prepare us directly for it.

What advice would you have for any current AFTT students?

Alana: Keep going and keep striving for what you want! If it's acting, then don't give up! You're doing this for a reason, so make that desire to act stronger than your fear or your self-consciousness. Put yourself out there, audition as much as possible, get as much experience as you can and do what you love!

Matt: Take the time to enjoy your training! It's fun and goes by way faster than you think. The friends you make at acting school are going to be your colleagues when you enter the industry. Make plans with them to put on plays (or whatever type of art you want to make). When you leave AFTT, you are the industry!

'Troilus and Cressida' will be running from the 9th-19th of May at the Depot Theatre in Marrickville.

To read more about 'Troilus and Cressida' and to purchase tickets, click here.

To learn more about studying Acting, click here.