Build Blog

Inside The Actors Training Company

Story added 16th May 2017

Suzy Norman, a student on the Actors Training Company course

Our popular Actors Training Company course is designed to train actors professionally to hone their skills and reach their full potential so they are ready for the profession. This intensive year-long course offers the training actors require to develop a CV, and provides our students the chance to obtain theatre credits, an industry showcase and showreel.

Always wondered what it might be like to commit to an intensive acting course at Build? We recently caught up with one of the students from the Actors Training Company, Suzy Norman, who shared her experiences of life on the course.

Student Q&A: Suzy Norman, Actors Training Company

How would you summarise your time at Build so far?

I have been coming to Build since 2013 when I initially dabbled with poetry and play-writing classes, but it was when I started acting classes here, that I felt a developing connection with the place.

I went on to do two accredited drama courses, and now I'm coming to end of my time here, I will miss the place, but I suspect I will keep my hand in with other performing arts short courses here and elsewhere.

Did you have a specific reason for choosing Build for your acting course?

I had already undertaken the Drama Access course here in 2015 which produced an excellent stepping stone to further training. I was impressed with the standard of teaching, and the passion, kindness and professionalism of the staff was a key factor in applying for a place on the Actors Training Company. I was serious about auditioning here whilst fully aware that winning a place on the Actors Training Company would not be easy.

I was concerned my age would be a factor: I am 42 now, and I didn't want to be in among 21 year olds – at least not solely that age group. There is a wide range of ages on the Actors Training Company course, and I suspect I fall somewhere into the median age range, so I was delighted to discover when I turned up for the course that I slotted in fairly inconspicuously.

The location of Build also appealed to me, with the college being in the heart of Zone 1 and theatreland.

What was your route into acting? Has it always been a passion or did you come to it later in life?

My parents raised us on quality drama. They had great taste in TV drama and I enjoyed performing arts in school. I wanted to apply to drama school in my twenties but I didn't have the money or, I suspect, the focus or the drive or the determination, then to put up with the discipline of training. 

When I was younger, I had a serious illness and the long and tedious treatment that resulted meant that I could reconsider my life. Previously, I was teaching in a primary school but I realised very early on, this wasn't what I wanted to do. My illness was a turning point: I was determined to do what I wanted to do, rather than settle for a safe job because somehow I'd convinced myself that was what was expected of me.

I've always been an artsy person (I paint and write too) but more than this I like to be on stage. I like how great acting serves humanity, creating an emotional experience (I blubbed like a baby after Brian Dennehy's performance as Willy Loman in the West End), and deep down I'm a bit of a show-off.

How have you found your experiences performing at Build?

Well, I've certainly learnt a lot. The directors here at Build have all had their own distinct approaches, but they’ve all taught me a great deal about how the industry works. We will be entering the industry competing with graduates who have benefited from three years training at RADA and LAMDA. It's a scary thought, not least because this is just a one year course, but I’m relishing the prospect and feel ready for the challenge.

I've played character roles and I've played the lead role of Clytemnestra in Stephen Berkoff's Agamemnon – what is more I've learned how much of a responsibility playing the lead is: the energy of the production falls on you, and you have to carry that. Equally, I enjoy character parts. My next challenge will be to play Fabian in Twelfth Night, where I get to sing, dance and try out comedy skills.

What are your plans going forward?

I hope to get a great agent. If not, I hope to start a co-operative with some of the other actors from the Actors Training Company. This summer, I'll be back at Build appearing as Fabian in Twelfth Night.

You can find a list of Suzy’s full acting credits on the Spotlight website.


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