A queue is stretched across Leicester Square on a grey Saturday morning. It doesn’t seem to bother the seventy or so eager actors, some of them clutching umberellas, who have turned out early for the Surviving Actors event at Sound nightclub.
A real buzz spills into the venue as industry organisations and companies chat to actors about how they might be able to assist with their careers. Goodie bags and freebies flow through the room and you get a real sense that the actors are not only gaining vital guidance, they are also having a lot of fun.
A VIP platform at the end of the room plays host to an Advice Surgery where actors can ask questions about their career. The one-on-one service is occupied throughout the day and participants look genuinely happy when they leave. “I’ve just picked up some really useful tips there, I have to say it’s inspired me to get things going again,” explained a young actor, before heading upstairs to the café area to meet friends and network.
I think it’s brilliant that actors can come here and learn so much for free.
One of the highlights of Surviving Actors, which was once again sponsored by Fourthwall and The Drama Student magazines, are the many workshops and seminars on the fourth floor. The most popular seminars came from casting director Richard Evans, who returned for a second year giving a valuable insight into the casting process, as well as Spotlight discussing how to get the best out of your online CV. Equity gave guidance to actors on making the transition into always getting paid work and Yvonne I’Anson from Actors Advice Surgery packed the room out to counsel those looking to kick start their career in 2011.
Amanda Gerrard, an actress from Kent, explains how she has a note pad filled with “brilliant advice” having attended two of the seminars. “I think it’s brilliant that actors can come here and learn so much for free. I’ve spent the whole day here, it’s got a great vibe.”
As the final actors vacate the building at 4.20pm, Felicity Jackson, Managing Director of Surviving Actors Ltd (pictured right) says she is delighted with the event and confirms it has been a huge success. “The buzz within the building was really exciting. The seminars were completely jam packed and those who attended have all made comments about how good they were.”
“They are free and that means they are extremely over-subscribed, which is the only down-fall of making them all free! We were thrilled with the exhibitors who came, and the visitors were exactly who we aim our event at – professional performers.”
There was a change of venue this year too, with more space and accessible spaces. Jackson felt that was the right decision in moving things forward.
“The venue has a huge seminar room which was great to give as many people the opportunity as possible,” she explains. “The location was right in the middle of Leicester Square which is perfect for people to get to.”
The 2011 convention attracted 1,200 visitors, almost double the amount on the previous year. This is a clear progression for an event which should still be in its primary stages, though with numerous opportunities in the pipeline. Not limited to unknown artists, there was welcome appearances from TV presenter Sarah Cawood and veteran actor Leonard Fenton (who played Eastenders’ Dr Legg until the late nineties).
We are hitting Manchester in July! We are thrilled to be travelling to the north to see how Surviving Actors is viewed there
So where does the event go from here? “Well, we are hitting Manchester in July! We are thrilled to be travelling to the north to see how Surviving Actors is viewed there,” clarifies Jackson. “We have had a lot of encouragement from members on our Facebook group and Twitter, so we hope that it will be just as successful as London has been so far!”
Not only have actors learned from industry professionals who’ve had the experience and actually know what they’re talking about, it’s clear they’ve also been inspired to take their career forward in 2011. And what’s even better, it was an experience that didn’t cost them a penny.