WOW! After the year we have had so far, this October School 2020 intensive was just what we all needed. This October school was born from our previously missed Summer School and it was certainly worth the wait. We have dreamt of a summer course for years, well before NPS was born. One that emulated the pace and intensity of a professional Drama school but catered to those who are a little younger. At NPS we always want to show what the industry is really like, an amazing, creative and exciting world to be apart of but also never sugar coat the amount of graft it requires to even enter. Last years Summer Intensive only scraped the surface of what we wanted to achieve and we soon realised that we wanted to increase the value our Squads contact time in class more than an end performance.
With Corona virus stopping us from presenting any end performance for parents, we chose to use the extra time to do what we have always wanted to achieve, a true week in a drama school. A week filled with classes in all 3 disciplines as well making time for all the extras that come with it, headshots, showreels, masterclasses AND auditions not just something to watch at the end. Your years at drama school and in vocational training are hardly ever about an end product. You never stop learning in this craft even when you leave college, therefore us as performers have to strive to better ourselves without the glory of a final performance. We love our parents at NPS, we really do. They run around like headless chickens after their young performers taking them to not only their regular classes but following us around wherever we hire a venue. They provide endless amounts of support and we love to see them shake loose at our annual parents part but … unfortunately at NPS, you are not our priority. We want to provide our Squad with the tools to strive in their chosen career and if that means no performance for you …. then so be it.
Therefore, this year we decided that Corona gave us this blessing to finally do what we’ve always wanted. We tailored the training further by adding a Junior & Senior course which was one of the best decisions we ever made. We also brought in a little extra help in the form of guest teacher Glenn Adamson. Glenn who trained at Lippa has worked in both TV/Voiceovers and Musical theatre as well as teaching at various schools around the country. Before he set off with his biggest role yet (The lead of Strat in Bat out of Hell) we jumped at the chance to have him on our team this week. Along with Jourdan, Jess and David we had ex Squad member Lucy help us for the week and we were all set!
Day 1 – Welcome … Now lets GO!
We always love the first day, everyone arrive all nervous and shy thinking that we might start with a few name games and ease them into it but …. NAH! We don’t do that here at NPS. We love throwing out attendees right in the deep end and watching them all just having to swim. Of course theres a space for name games and getting to know our attendees but we always find that cracking on with what we have planned really helps loosen the Squad up way more than standing around learning that Susan loves to dance and act ….. Seriously? I would have never have guessed!!!!
Something that we really take time over at NPS is the art of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. We understand that this may be daunting but we love getting to know our squad well enough to lead them up to the edge of that cliff and urging them to take a large leap of faith, especially when it comes to the disciplines that they feel the least confident in. Some need a gentle nudge, some need us to jump off with them and some need a strong boot but either way we understand how scarey it can be and are always there to catch anyone who needs it. We realise so far, that for those who may be reading this blog that don’t know us, we may come across a little abrupt. We like to say, firm but fair but always above and beyond that, caring about the wellbeing of our Squad.
With that in mind we took one who leap and started where it all begins …. what scares you. This brief but insightful conversation gave us all the information we needed to continue with our training for the week and we commend all of our Squad for being so open and honest from the offset. Lessons continued throughout the day in technical singing, acting through song, dance technique and improv with a last lesson in preparation for headshots which were due to commence the day after. This involved looking at our characters, aesthetics and what may lead a casting director to ask us in for an audition. With sheets filled out and ideas flowing we finished our day on a high and so pleased with the two groups effort and energy on their first day. We knew then that it would be a fabulous week.
Day 2 – Headshots …
As soon as the Squad arrived on Tuesday morning, anyone in the industry would have guessed it was headshot day although the muggles of the world might have thought that we were going on our jollys. We said bring as many options as you like but I think some of our Squad took it far to literal with full suitcases of options. But hey, no complaints here we love a bit of preparation. Along side our headshots today attendees would be attending all their usual classes and be taken out one by one to have their headshots taken by our wonderful photographer David.
Glenn wanted to start the day with a huge HITT and fitness workout which would have been a fabulous idea however, as two females running this company we knew that this wouldn’t thrill the squad. After many a photoshoot and headshot session in our time we knew that if we made the squad dance before their headshots their would be hell to pay. Obviously Glenn hadn’t done his hair and make up that morning, therefore wasn’t fussed about getting a little hot under the collar. Jourdan had thought about this when designing the timetable therefore organised all of the dance to be in the afternoon. Phew!
Another fabulous day filled with knowledge, exploration and practise as well as looking into the details of our given scenes for tomorrow. Having watched both out Juniors and Seniors in the first half of Mondays sessions, the team chose which scenes would suit which squad member. We took into account what each attendee would be up for casting wise as well as trying to vary the characters for those who attended last year in order to give them some variety. Each scene is always written by the NPS team in order to cater to our attendees and surrounding that we have at that time.
Day 3 – Showreels …
Again the group came prepared for the day with hair, make up, costumes and lines already learnt ready to film. We wanted to Squad to have a little more control over their showreels this year specifically our Seniors. I think sometimes we forget that within this industry we are usually self employed, therefore, we have to start getting used to making decisions for ourselves, whats best for us and what’s best for our brand.
The squad juggled their time so well jumping out and back into lessons while filming their show reals and been used for extras within others. As we have said before, we aim to give everyone a real taste of drama school and what to expect with us at NPS and the pressure started to seep through when we moved onto our song presentation using Glenn and Jess to listen and feedback with any technique advice as well as acting through song. We know it can be super daunting singing and in front of others BUT we also know how important it is to overcome this fear and become used to performing in front of people without flapping. After some encouraging words of wisdom and maybe a few kicks up the bum! We saw all the squad nail their solo songs and worked on them together. One of our favorite things is to see everyone’s confidence grow in front of us as well as seeing the progression and improvement as the squad work so hard to absorb, respond and retain our feedback and direction.
Day 4 – Audition Prep …
Now our headshots and show reals were ticked off and left in the hands of David to work his magic, we had a energetic day full of audition preparation techniques mainly based around dance. We worked on picking up different routines that vastly varied in style as well as adding character so we could see a evident contrast. The senior squad went from learning and performing a contemporary jazz number full of sass and confidence with Jess to jumping straight into learning the audition material from Mamma Mia with Glenn!
Meanwhile the juniors learnt two great upbeat jazz numbers, worked on ensemble singing with a song from Matilda the musical working hard as a team to blend and built lots of confidence starting to become more independent with their learning. They were so proud of themselves for how much they picked up, they even asked to perform in front of the seniors at the end of the day showcasing their dance piece!
Day 5 – Mock auditions & West End Masterclass …
Why does the last day always come so soon?! Audition day! The squad where signed in efficiently while handing their CV’s to the panel and we were off before you know it! Jordan came as our guest teacher started off with an intense warm up before promptly teaching the seniors their audition material, not shy of setting a challenge for the squad, while the juniors where on a roll with their film and tv auditions where they had all learnt all their lines just the evening before! The squad dealt with the pressure and hard work really well in theirs first call and gave it everything they had learnt with us during the week before switching Jordan round and moving onto the last audition of the day!
After a quick lunch to relax, re-fuel and finally breathe a little lighter, it was time to dig deep and find that last bit of energy to enjoy our celebratory workshop with Jen and turn into the cast of Shrek the musical! This was so fun! The Squad got to learn numerous routines from the show and link them all together creating a wonderful, energetic mashup! We couldn’t let Jen leave without hounding her with lots of questions to inspire and help the squad with their next steps in life. One of our favorite questions was from our youngest member who asked Jen if she had ever danced on stage in glittery costumes before…cute.
It was then time to say our goodbyes, which always makes us lightly emosh! All of the Squad were awarded with their NPS certificate and audition feedback forms with a awkward covid ruined handshake as well as one last prep talk and motivational speech from us (we love those) before signing everyone out for the last time. But we are sure to see you back with us soon!
Thank you’s …
Thank you to all of our Squad that attended again from far and wide. You are all superstars so thank you for giving us your energy, time and focus this week. We hope that you gained a lot of insight and knowledge which will help you on your journey. Thank you to our wonderful parents/guardians too for being not only financial and transpirational support but for always being their mentally.
Special thanks to our wonderful guest teachers. Thank you Glenn for your amazing insight and energy this week as well as your incredible hair. Thank you again to David for his fabulous headshots and showreels, you’re very much embedded into the NPS Family so good luck trying to get rid of us even when you move. Thank you to our wonder women assistant Lucy for all of your hard work this week. A special thanks also goes to Jordan Wing who provided us with a challenging but incredible audition dance. We hope that you get back on those ships performing as soon as you can. And last but no means least a huge thank you to Jen Caldwell for travelling to work with us for our Shrek masterclass before she continues the UK Tour of Six!
We would also like to thank the staff at McAuley Lower School in Doncaster who provided us with a fabulous venue very last minute after our Hire fell through. Thank you all for attending and we really hope to see you all again next year.
“We hope to see you all again soon”
Keep learning from as many people as you can, working hard and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. After all remember … practise makes permanent!