Last week Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts held a rather swanky breakfast in an upstairs room at the Groucho Club. It was a chance for agents and casting directors to meet the team at Mountview to hear – and help shape – their plans for the future. Attenders included Shane Collins from Shane Collins Associates, Ellie Collyer-Bristow who is associate casting director at ATG, and reps from Curtis Brown and Waring & McKenna.
Principal Sue Robertson talked us through some of the school’s news, including its exciting move (announced last year) from Wood Green back its original home, Crouch End, where Hornsey Town Hall is being refurbished and kitted out with two new theatre spaces. For the first time in a long time Mountview students will be able to stage shows on site.
As part of this re-location, the school aims to deepen its relationship with the local community – a relationship which Roberston believes is hugely important to drama schools, especially when links with the acting industry are also strong. These key relationships allow schools to operate as a fulcrum between the two worlds, with the potential to bring local talent to professional attention.
Robertson took the opportunity to introduce some of the many new faces in the Mountview team, a few of whom have joined them from LAMDA. These included Stephen Jameson, the newly-appointed Director of Performance, who reiterated some of the guiding principles of Mountview’s teaching, and its commitment to being at the forefront of developments in the industry. All Mountview students, Jameson insisted, whatever course they are on, are trained to perform to the highest standards, with musical theatre students being given the opportunity to perform a healthy mix of repertoire that prepares them for the full gamut found in the current industry.
Rigour and depth are qualities on which Mountview prides itself. I chatted to Deputy Principal William Harris, who told me about the school’s small, very international, theatre directing course, as part of which directors are given the chance to participate in actor training classes alongside their own work. It is testimony to a supportive environment that this is an offer directors take them up on.
But this kind of cross-disciplinary training is what the school is all about: as Robertson was keen to point out, Mountview produces “actors who actually sing rather well, and musical theatre performers whose acting is formidable”.
With plenty of plans opened up for discussion, there was certainly more than just the (delicious) apricot croissants for agents and casting directors to get stuck into.
Image: Homemade croissants