Performing Arts lecturer shares his tips for success in The Stage

Westminster Kingsway College (WestKing) Performing Arts lecturer Rob Alexander has shared his top tips for aspiring actors in The Stage.

Rob featured on the renowned publication’s website that covers all aspects of theatre, drama and entertainment news, features, reviews from across the country on 9 June.

In the article, he shares how he started in acting, what prompted him to move into teaching, his advice for drama students and what he would change about the industry.

Rob said: “The Stage contacted me through Twitter asking if I’d be happy to discuss the provision of the creative arts in further education and how it fits into the jigsaw that is the economy, as part of a series of weekly guest articles in arts training articles they were running.”

Rob, who will be leaving WestKing this summer after nearly two decades at the college, recently wrote and performed his latest one-man show Keeper of the Flame, which premiered at the Young Actors Theatre in Islington and will be performed during Camden Fringe this August.

His acting career includes film and TV roles in The Fifth Element, The Chief, and Devices and Desires, while his stage work includes The Caretaker, Sunset Ship and Alice in Wonderland.

Rob said: “It’s been a pleasure working at WestKing with some wonderfully creative and hugely talented students over the years, many of whom are now friends, including one who is directing my new show!”

Read the article: Course Leader Rob Alexander: ‘The creative arts enrich, embolden and enthuse all our lives. Promote it, don’t demote it’

Please note, registration is required to view the article.

WestKing is home to some of the best theatrical stage and production facilities in London. Our tutors have experience in all aspects of performance and will harness your talent by developing your vocal, improvisation and collaborative skills, as well as giving you the resilience and confidence needed to work in this highly competitive industry.

Our acting alumni includes Babatunde Aléshé, Jamali Maddix, Tobi King Bakare, Francis Lovehall, Romario Simpson, Amy Revelle, Shaday Barrowes and Babiyre Bukilwa.

Apply now for a Performing Arts course here.

Young stars from CANDI perform Annie like there’s no Tomorrow

Aspiring actors from City and Islington College (CANDI) headed back to 1930s New York when they took to the stage to perform the Broadway hit musical Annie.

The show featured many of the classic songs written by Charles Strousse and Martin Charnin including Maybe, It’s a Hard Knock Life, Little Girls and the showstopper Tomorrow.

The spectacular production about a young orphan girl was performed over two nights at the college’s theatre at its Centre for Business, Arts and Technology on Camden Road.

The 11-strong cast was made up of Performing Arts Level 3 Diploma students. Different actors performed in the main roles with Shaquilla Farrell and Kerry-Ann Alvarez Trivino starring as Annie.

Africa Blagrove and Xanandu Sheriff played Miss Hannigan, while Marc Roth and James Whittington-Phillips played Daddy Warbucks, Lizzie Estell played Grace Farrell and Tomas Valencia was Rooster.

The rest of the cast comprised Esther Lafa, Bianca Alieze-Luciano and Janel Mevlit who played the orphans, servants at the Warbucks mansion and other minor characters.

Shaquilla, 17, from Islington, reprised the role of Annie she had previously played when she was a pupil at Montem Primary School in Islington.

She said: “I was a bit nervous because I wasn’t very well and had lost my voice a few days before. I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, especially singing big numbers, but on the morning of the show I managed to push my voice out and I began to relate to Annie’s optimism. I had to believe in myself that I could do it, and I did.

“The audience loved it and were cheering after each song. At the end they were saying it was an amazing show and they didn’t even realise I was ill. I was very surprised because of how I had been feeling, but very proud of everyone I’d worked with on the show.

“When I’m performing it’s like I’m sharing a piece of me with everyone. I just feel alive.”

‘The audience loved it and were cheering after each song. At the end they were saying it was an amazing show.’

Audiences were quick to applaud the “wonderful” show.

One said: “What made this truly special was not only the impact on the performers, but their family and friends. The pride and joy as they see their children excel, and morph into something truly amazing, is testament to the commitment of CANDI’s teachers and staff.”

The show was directed by Tim Chaundy, Curriculum Leader for Performing Arts, with choreography and acting coaching from Performing Arts lecturers Caroline Griffiths and Blanka Molnar.

Sound and lighting was provided by theatre technicians Natalie Tomlin, Chevelle Adeko and Neill Brinkworth supported by Performing Arts student Gabriele Jasineviciute.

‘The students worked with absolute commitment and flair … it’s not wonder every single one of them has been offered places to continue into higher education or got work in the industry this year.’

Tim said: “It was amazing to have worked with such a dedicated ensemble to fully realise our interpretation of Annie. The audience were truly impressed with the high energy and confidence of the students’ performance.

“The students worked with absolute commitment and flair, often rehearsing in their own time to ensure that the show was a success. It’s no wonder every single one of them has been offered places to continue into higher education or got work in the industry this year.”

The show formed part of a Summer Showcase of productions, that included stage adaptations of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses and Sonali Bhattacharyya’s Two Billion Beats.

The end-of-year event also featured productions of Cacophony by Molly Taylor and a version of the Greek tragedy Antigone, along with various music performances.

A career on the stage, as well as a lot more confidence for whatever you choose to do, can be yours, with a qualification in Performing Arts. Under the expert tutelage of our dedicated lecturers, supported by our team of support staff and technicians, you’ll get great tuition in our excellent theatre facilities.

Apply now for a Performing Arts course at CANDI here.

Former Performing Arts student returns to CANDI to cast aspiring actors in short film

A former Performing Arts student has returned to City and Islington College (CANDI) to cast two current students in a short film he is directing this summer.

Karl Jackson, 30, turned to the college where he studied more than a decade ago, when looking for two female actors for his new film Independence.

The film has been funded by the British Film Institute and tells the story of the challenges faced by Amba, an 18-year-old who has just left the care system.

It follows her as she adapts to being moved out of her area and living alone in a rundown flat with minimal support apart from her best friend Ciara.

Karl, from Walthamstow, has seen first-hand the impact that coming out of care has on young people, through his work for care provider Lignum Vitae Care & Support.

“Preparing young people for living independently is easier said than done as their needs are all very different,” said Karl.

“Depending on where they are housed the standard of care and support can vary, which can have a drastic effect on their future prospects. I wanted to make a film that shed light on some of the shortcomings.”

Karl held an open audition at CANDI in March when he asked students for their suggestions to the script, improvise different scenarios and make an audition tape.

Joanna Rutagambwa, 19, and Mia Campbell-Fiawoo, 20, who are both studying for an HNC Performing Arts, were cast as Amba and Ciara.

Joanna, from Tower Hamlets, said: “When Karl told me I’d been cast I was very excited and accepted it straightaway. We got the script and had a one to-one and he asked me for my opinion and explained what he wanted from it.”

Joanna hopes to bring to the role her personal experience of having to change and grow up quickly when looking after her younger brother when her mum was at work.

“Amba is very quiet and passive. She is trying to hold everything together and does not want to ask for help because she wants to try and do things herself and not burden other people.

“It’s a lot about the silent moments and the way she behaves than what she says. It’s very powerful in the way it cuts through each scene, which gives it sense of realism.”

Karl studied a Performing Arts Level 3 Diploma from 2008-10 and has gone on to appear in roles on stage and screen including Game of Thrones, Casualty and Doctors. In 2019 he directed and starred in a short film called Relapse about a young father who is struggling to rebuild his life after being released from prison.

Karl was impressed with Joanna’s ability to instinctively encapsulate Amba’s emotions through her eyes and stillness, and Mia’s audition really fitted the character of Ciara.

“From my own experience I’ve always been aware of the high standards at CANDI, but to come back over a decade later and see the same enthusiasm, devotion and care was inspiring,” said Karl.

“From the start of the audition process with CANDI the calibre of talent and the attitude of the students was incredible.

Relapse (2019) – A short film by Karl Jackson

Joanna admitted to being quite shy when she first came to CANDI but she is now starting to realise her talent and getting the part of Amba had further boosted her confidence.

“The opportunities created at CANDI are amazing,” she said.

“When you look at people like Karl and see them thrive, not only as a former student but as a person of colour, it gives you hope that there are opportunities out there. It makes me feel there are endless things I can do.”

Tim Chaundy, Curriculum Leader for Performing Arts, said: “It was amazing having Karl back at CANDI and giving opportunities to our students to act at a professional level. The industry experience and skills Karl possesses have been a huge inspiration for our students.

“It’s even more thrilling that Karl decided to audition our students and cast Joanna and Mia in his new film. Both are creative students with innovative ideas and approaches to performance, and have developed excellent acting and theatre skills. This is such a fantastic experience for them.”

Independence is expected to be released later this year.

Apply now for Performing Arts courses.