Monday, 14 April 2014 00:00

The Sam Wanamaker Festival Experience

Written by Nicholas Bourne
Student in his final year of the 2 Year Diploma in Professional Acting Course

It was a privilege and honour to represent Drama Studio London at The Globe and an experience neither Annabel Nicolson–Green nor I will ever forget. I enjoyed it so much I really didn't want to leave the stage after that final jig amid rapturous applause from an enthusiastic and appreciative audience. 

That jig, although rather calamitous, was hugely enjoyable but bitter sweet as I knew the festival was coming to a close. Thoughts spinning in my head were 'You can't leave this stage' and 'Do the scene again', but eventually someone had to drag me off. That probably best describes how elated I was feeling. 

Fortunately for our year group, the Sam Wanamaker Festival team decided to extend the weekend which meant we could spend more time around the Globe, meeting and chatting with the amazing professionals who work there. As we arrived on Friday, to great anticipation, I knew we were in for a treat. A folder outlining everything we needed to know about the weekend was handed to us as we took our places to listen to Patrick Spottiswoode, Head of Globe Education. It struck me immediately how well the whole project is organised. The folder contained the running order for the big Sunday performances; the schedule including movement and voice workshops, a programme, contact details and even travel information over the weekend. 

Patrick then took us for a tour around the buildings and we were given the opportunity to have a look inside the spectacular brand new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. It really lives up to its name – the 'Jewel,' beautifully designed and fantastically atmospheric. 

Actor and director James Wallace took us through how to approach classical text, in particular one of Shakespeare's contemporaries, the great Christopher Marlowe. Joseph Atkins then introduced us to 'The Globe Round' a new feature of the Sam Wanamaker festival, a wonderfully composed piece that we sung as a company – all 44 of us at the start of the festival. This was to be a brilliant intro as it helped calm everyone's nerves getting all of us on stage together singing some of Shakespeare's brilliant words from As You like it. At one together! 

Saturday was devoted to voice, movement and a chance to play on the Globe stage with other pieces of text. This was the first time we got to work with the graduates from the other schools – not just London schools such as RADA and LAMDA but young actors from Wales and Scotland who had such terrific support on the Sunday too. There was a real sense of camaraderie amongst us. We all wanted to do our best. We were all nervous but incredibly excited at the same time. Over drinks and dinner we discussed our school life, our aspirations and ambitions as young actors and the challenges ahead. It was a great start to what would be such a memorable day. 

And so Sunday 6th April, 2014 rolled round. After a restless night of nerves and excitement I arrived at 8am to prepare for our scene. As we mapped out the performance for the dress rehearsal Annabel was in fine spirits which truly helped me control my nerves. Taking to the Globe stage during the dress rehearsal on our own (apart from a few tour groups and directors) was, in itself, a magical moment but nothing could prepare us for the sea of faces and overall sense of support that was to follow. 

Some 1,500 people, a packed Globe theatre delivered an electric atmosphere and as each scene before us went without a hitch, everyone word perfect and professional, it dawned on me that I would have to go out on that stage and deliver. Bristol Old Vic were finishing their last lines and I remember, heart beating fast with adrenalin, giving Annabel the thumbs up, standing in the tiring house waiting to be called on. I fleetingly thought I can't go on – but wait – this is The Globe – friends, family, colleagues, keen theatre goers – they were all out there waiting for us, judging us. Once on that stage, incredibly high and simply stunning with its majestic thatched roof above, I found myself loving every second. I hugely appreciated the support I felt and knew I just had to connect with Annabel, who was amazing, project my voice and deliver. We took our time, savoured every word and before we knew it, that was it. Our time was up. And I didn't want to exit stage left. Thank you so much Drama Studio London and The Globe for this magnificent opportunity. And of course to the late Sam Wanamaker without whom this once in a lifetime opportunity would not have been possible. The following Monday morning sitting in voice class at DSL I couldn't help but smile and think about what a great experience that had been.