Published: Apr 18, 2011
Students gained an insight into the creative mind of British theatre luminary Michael Grandage.
The award-winning director visited LIPA this month to give a masterclass in which he spoke about how he chooses and approaches texts, among other topics.
He began, however, by revisiting his early years in Cornwall, when he fell in love with theatre while watching a touring RSC production in the 1970s.
“I came home saying that I wanted to be involved in theatre. There seemed to be a whole new other world I had been in contact with,” explained Michael. “I was aware they were holding a mass audience in their hands and people were transfixed by the story that was being told. I had never been in a room where people were gripped in that way before.”
After joining an amateur theatre company in his hometown of Penzance and moving to London in 1981 to study drama, he launched his professional acting career.
He trod the boards for 12 years and worked in television before realising that acting, for him, had become “creatively unfulfilling”. His future was in directing.
In 1996 he got a directing job at a theatre in Colchester after writing to his contacts. He reflected: “I found that I enjoyed doing it. Being in a rehearsal room, as a director, for the first time, was like finding it all over again, in my 30s. It felt a job I was supposed to be doing. It all made sense.”
Since then his career as a director has developed apace and he has collaborated with high profile actors such as Kenneth Branagh, Dame Judi Dench and Jude Law. He has been Artistic Director of Donmar Warehouse in London since 2002, a post he will leave at the end of this year to pass on the directorial “baton” and explore new creative avenues.
His work has won Tony, Drama Desk, Olivier, Evening Standard, Critics' Circle and South Bank Awards.
As well as telling anecdotes, answering questions from the audience and talking about casting and the Donmar’s trainee scheme, Michael spoke positively of the LIPA graduates he has worked with and the institute’s multidisciplinary approach to teaching.
He said: “I wish to God there had been that kind of programme in existence when I was training. The idea that you should consider other areas of the business was something that was not there. The way these courses seem to be much more geared to what’s going on outside is of huge benefit.”
Pictured: Michael Grandage (left) and Mark Featherstone-Witty, Chief Executive and Founding Principal of LIPA