Friday, 30 March 2012

Right to choose a school

The Government is currently trying to pass a law to give parents the right to choose schools for their children. Read more here:

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Drama school and other auditions: be positive, professional and prepared

I have been reading a lot about young people trying to get in to drama schools recently. One thing that has changed since I went to drama school is that they are all charging people to audition for them, some are also charging for recalls. One young person I spoke to last week was charged 3 times for 3 different auditions with the same drama school. Now I understand that drama schools have to cover costs and maybe even weed out people who only have a vague interest but some of this looks like profiteering to me.

It used to be the case that drama schools only saw the people they thought showed some potencial from the CV/Applications. Now it is in their interest to see everyone as they will make a profit out of their auditions.

So ... if you still want to audition for drama school then it is important to make the best impression that you can. Now there are some places that you can go (and pay even more money) to get audition training - one 1-day course I found costs £125 for the day (in London), or you can pay them £60 an hour for individual training (what they call mentor training). In my experience there are enough good actors/directors out there that would be willing to help guide people who are interested for free (just ask around your friends).

There are tho some basic tips to remember. From my own experience of holding auditions and being on audition panels I suggest the following TOP TIPS:

- research a range of drama schools and find out what they can best offer you
- know why and be prepared to say why you want to go to that particular drama school
- be honest on your CV, UCAS form, application letter etc
- choose an audition piece that is going to show off your talents - that you can shine in
- learn your lines and then learn them again - AND THEN LEARN THEM AGAIN
- practice and rehearse your audition piece - think about why you are doing/saying what you are doing/saying
- have some knowledge about the character you are playing and read the whole play - know something about their background - show you have done some character research
- be prepared to talk about the play and your character - they may well test your knowledge
- have an audition piece prepared to perform at a moments notice - you never know when you might get a call up
- don't bring in or ask for any props, costume or set to use - just do it in the space you have been given
- don't perform to empty space or a blank wall: look at the people who are auditioning you - they are your audience - don't look them in the eye but do perform to them
- don't fidget or move around too much - if you move make sure you have a reason for moving
- wear comfortable clothing (its not a fashion parade)
- remember that the people you are auditioning for will have seen 100's if not 1000's of people before so don't waste their time - be creative, do unusual things, be memorable
- don't antagonise or be confrontaional with your audition panel
- be professional - DO NOT HAVE A BAD ATTITIDE - if they think you might be a problem then they will not choose you however talented you are
- arrive on time with everything that you have been asked to bring

Be prepared to be rejected. It can be a cut throat business. One leading Head of a drama school said that you are no more than a piece of meat in the industry. If you're n ot chosen or recalled, if you don't get a place then MOVE ON, don't dwell on it, don't take it personally. Go to the next audition ... fresh.

Some drama schools in the UK:
Rose Bruford
Drama Centre
Exeter Uni
Bristol Old Vic
Find a list with contacts etc here:
You can also find some excellent tips here from Theatresaurus:
Remember to be positive, professional and prepared.

Actionwork in Zambia

Last month we were invited to do some work in Zambia. We ran some training workshops for teachers in Livingstone and consulted street children in Lusaka and Kitwe about a school on the street project. Zambia is a fantatsic country; welcoming, hot, diverse and friendly. When we spoke with the children they talked about wanting to go to school but not having the money, unlike in the UK where many kids complain of having to go to school. Many street children in Zambia are Aids/HIV orphans and have HIV/Aids themselves and live a hand-to-mouth existence.

We have been invited back, thats a good sign.

This is one of the places the street kids hang out and sleep.

Mpower You magazine

I musy apologise for the delay in getting out our next issue of Mpower You ( but it will be coming out very soon with the theme of 'Children's Art Against Bullying'. If you would like to contribute to the magazine please contact us ( To read the last issue please see here:

Funding in the UK

One would think that in the digital age we live in, the fast and easy communications across the globe would make things easier to raise funds for projects. I am not so sure. The difficulty is that so many people are chasing the same funding from the same sources. If you already have backing (eg from religious organisations or government) and can make slick video presentations (eg KONY campaign) then raising more funds is easier. Its that old adage money makes money. So how do people with limited backing break through? I have tried a different appraoch to fundraising: Crowdfunding. Already very succesful in the States (eg Kickstarter), crowdfunding is a new way or marketing and an easy way to give money. The difficulty in the UK is that crowdfunding sites (there are a few) still have very limited followers and base their success on just one or two succeful fundraising projects. I have started a campaign with Crowdfunder UK ( to try and rasie money for an anti-bullying dvd. Feeedback has been great, many people have 'liked' the project but breaking the barrier of people actually putting hands in pockets and giving over hard earned cash is another matter. Its early days on this bid so time will tell.

If you are interested in helping this project then you also have a chance to star in the film itself. Details here:

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Anti Bullying Week

Have you seen the new revamped, updated and brand new website for anti-bullying week? Just go to to check it out.

Remember that dealing with bullying does not stgop at tyhe end of anti-bullying week but goes on throughout the year. Help stop bullying - do one thing to help stop bullying in your community right now.

Bullying in the workplace

Bullying does not just happen in school. Bullying is not just a problem for young people. Bullying can affect anyone at anytime. New training packages for staff and managers in all workplaces can be found here:

If you suffer bullying at work you are not the only one. If you want to help stop bullying in the workplace or you want to raise awareness of bullying in your own workplace then point your boss to some of the train ing available for staff and managers. Making an office an anti-bullying office not only makes happier staff it also leads to an increasde in profits.

Help us make an empowerment film

The Director of actionwork, Dr Andy Hickson, is using his experience on dealing with bullying to make an empowerment and anti-bullying strategy film that will be given freely to schools. he needs your help in raising some of the money.

You have the chance to not only help financially but you could also star in the film. More details here:  - check out the pitch where he discloses a lot personally and has some well pitched incentives on offer.

Hope you can help.

Strategies for empowerment

I have been dealing with issues of bullying most of my life. As a kid I was bullied at school and out in the community. There were also times when I bullied other people. Going through life I have found that strategies evolve and that what once worked does not neccesarily work again. Its true that what works for one person may not work for another anyway, but what worked for me once may not work for me again?

One of the key things we need to remember when dealing with bullying is that there are no magic solutions, no quick fixes, no one best strategy that will always work. We need to have a range of startegies available for us to use and adapt. The reason for this is that its not just about us, its also about the bully and how strong/smart/aware they areand how many people back them. Its also about the situation - no situation is ever the same. Its also about who else is around/involved at the time.

We need to work for empowerment. Dealing with bullying is a survival skill, a set of skills that includes, social skills, communication skills and physical skills to be worked on, improved, trained, honed and practiced.

People have said to me that to experience bullying makes you a stronger person and that therefore bullying is a good thing for us all to experience. What these people do not realise is that some people suffer bullying so badly that they want to kill themselves. I have pondered these thoughts for a long time and I do see the truth in experiencing difficulties making us stronger. It was Frankle that said 'that which does not kill me maks me stronger'. This realistion led me to develop a series of anti-bullying rolelays where people can experience bullying in a 'safe' space and at the same time practice strategies for dealing with the bullying. These roleplays, very close to the concept of a psychodrama, have had tremendous success and is now one of the techniques I use with people who have been bullied. The bullying roleplay is not for the feinthearted, it is also not for the untrained. If you want to practice intensive antiu-bullying roleplays, make sure that you have had adequate training in the techniques required.

Roleplays allow you to practice in a safe place without fear of intimidation or ridicule. They also give you the chance to look at a strategy from different angles and howt might be adaptable in different situations.

So I now hold true with Frankle that what does not kill you can make you stronger. The key to survival is adaptability.