Blog Archive

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Home education and a career in drama

The blog has been a bit quiet as we have been off travelling in the trusty motorhome.  It has been a while since we made a trip and it was great to bring the family closer together again.

One leg of the trip was to see Leo (now 22 years old) perform in an adaptation of "Great Expectations" in Bath.  He has been studying Performing Arts - Acting for three years and this was his final performance piece. It was a brilliant production and I felt all those lovely maternal feelings of pride and amazement of how the little boy has become the young man.

Consequently, I thought it may be helpful to others to chart Leo's education/home education path and a few of the issues we have dealt with along the way.  In HE, you just want your children to be happy and to do what makes them happy.  If they can find a career in those fields when they are older, you feel that is where they are more likely to find contentment in life.

Leo went to school until he was 10 years old and we made the decision to jump ship.  We were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with schools' striving for league table positions skewing the whole notion of an education.  Leo had always been an extrovert and a showman.  He had always exuded a strong presence in any situation.  When he started attending a drama outreach group run by a local theatre, he came into his own.

Our then extensive travels meant that he could rarely be part of any production but he always loved drama club.  After attaining seven IGCSEs and at age 16, we tried to direct him away from drama toward something "sensible that he could always fall back on" and to leave the drama as a hobby.  He went to Sixth Form College and did his AS year studying Maths, Further Maths, Psychology and Performance studies.  He also joined the college's own theatre company.  It became very apparent where his interests lay and this showed in his AS results.

At this point, we agreed that he could switch course to the BTEC Diploma in Performing Arts - Acting.  It was a two year course that was the equivalent of three A levels and was purely assessment based - written and performed.  He thrived on it although it also presented challenges by way of the fact that he was always with the same people in class.

The next stage was to apply to drama colleges.  These are notoriously difficult to get in to if you want to study acting.  He had three interviews and two call-backs but unfortunately did not make the cut.  However, he applied to universities where the courses more or less matched the content of the drama colleges and accepted a place at Bath Spa University.  Uni life has occasionally been pretty tough on him and has presented financial challenges he did not foresee. But it has also been fun and he has made good friends.

In 2011 he auditioned for the National Youth Theatre and succeeded in gaining a place on one of their summer schools.  He has subsequently auditioned for other NYT productions and projects and was part of the show to welcome athletes to the Olympic Village in London 2012.  He has been to Saudi Arabia on a special project and is going to be assisting in running one of the summer schools like the one he originally attended.  He also has a call-back for a production.

In addition to innumerable productions on his course, he worked with the RSC production of "Dunsinane" where he played Lady Macbeth's son.
He came close to getting a role in a film being shot in Jordan recently but had to decline it as he had not yet finished his uni course.  His aim for the next year is to build up some funds through casual/retail jobs and then to put his energies into finding roles in London and further afield.

Though I will always be concerned that a job in the arts does not bring in a regular and secure income (very familiar with that one personally!) I feel that he should follow his heart and use the skills he has been blessed with.  Who knows where the journey will take him.

I may well ask him to write a guest post...