An interview with Early Career Training Programme member, Richard Bland

New Work Festival

Richard Bland is an actor, theatre-maker, and creator of Protocol Theatre Company.

He is also one of the Early Career Training Programme graduates from 2016-17. We spoke to him about his experiences as the programme opens for applications once more.

The weird and wonderful things we had to do on the Early Career Training Programme ranged from performing stand up for the first time (whether we wanted to or not!), shooting a short film in a day, meeting countless experts of their field and making incredible friends and potential life-long partners in art.

A fantastic and inspiring part of the programme was the compulsory ‘Body Story’ exercise. Every member of the course had to present – in whatever medium they liked – their Body Story. A Body Story is essentially a device through which we can observe, pick apart and accept what has made us as individuals move the way we move, behave the way we behave, what makes our bodies look the way they do and to quote head of course Dan Sherer, to show “what is the you-ness of you”.

What is the you-ness of you?

In the room, these sharings brought out music, dance, puppetry work, poetry – even the recreation of mountain climbing on the floor using nothing but our fellow artists!

Alongside this, the etudes (scene studies) encouraged us to experience different ‘events with us in them’, as Dan would often say, and encouraged us to hone our imaginative and creative skills to make our performances ‘real enough’. These improvised scenes brought out incompetent tattoo artists, estranged family re-united, team building camping trips and creepy encounters on trains! But every one of them a gem worthy of their own full production development.

Every one of them a gem worthy of their own full production development

We created model sets, designed soundscapes, learnt about producing, writing, acting, directing, what makes a good story, who’s role is who’s in theatre and film, chatted with agents, explored voices, singing, movement, our bodies, the list goes on and on. Without the course I wouldn’t have started my own professional company, Protocol Theatre, with several members of the course.

One of the best decisions I’ve made in a long while

The Early Career Training Programme was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long while and reignited my dwindling faith in people’s support of the arts (not to mention support of the emerging yet to be seen artists!). It can be everything you need it to be if you are willing to give it everything you’ve got to give.

Applications for the Early Career Training Programme are now closed. 

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