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Drama and me: Tom Turner
Teaching Drama

Drama and me: Tom Turner

Posted 13 December 2016   |   583 views   |   Trade & Professional   |   Comments (0) RSC’s The Tempest actor Tom Turner speaks to TD about his drama education.

What is your occupation?

I’m an actor, which feels great to say; I’ve had so many odd jobs over the years since I left drama school that sometimes I questioned whether I really was an actor or not. I’m also part of a comedy troupe called The Grandees. We’ve written our own short plays and stories and taken them to the Edinburgh Festival every year since 2008 – it keeps the creative juices flowing and it’s great to create your own work and present it to people and the industry. I also do voiceovers, which is very nice work.


Where did you study/train?

I studied at Webber Douglas Drama School which is sadly no more – it merged with Central School about 10 years ago. I attended at the age of 18, straight from school, so I was out into the profession at 21. Things didn’t start happening for me for a long time, so you do need plenty of practice and a lot of tenacity – and talent, of course.


Proudest moment?

I have three. The first was receiving a standing ovation for The Grandees’ 2013 show The Wrong Side of the Door in Edinburgh. It’s a great feeling to know you’ve created something that’s given people pleasure. The second moment was playing Valentine in Love for Love at the Royal Shakespeare Company last year. We performed in the Swan, which is just the most beautiful theatre, and  Selina Cadell directed. My third proudest moment was working on a Steven Spielberg movie this year – which was directed by the man himself. He shook my hand when we wrapped and said to me, ‘You’re a good actor.’ I could have happily dropped dead there and then!


What are you working on now?

The Tempest at the RSC. It promises to be a magical production with a mixture of classic Victorian magic tricks, great actors and state of the art technology by Intel and Imaginarium.


What did you think of your drama lessons at secondary school?

Second to none. If it weren’t for my teacher John Marston, I wouldn’t be an actor today. He inspired a lot of us with his choices for school plays (Heartbreak House, Privates on Parade, Cabaret) and his help prepping auditions for drama school. It’s total pot luck which teacher you get, and yet it’s so important. We all know that if you have a rotten teacher, you’re unlikely to enjoy the subject. Luckily I had a great one, and it’s how it all started for me.


What was the last production you saw?

The Dresser, which was fantastic. Selina Cadell is in it so a group of us from Love for Love went along to see it. The performances were wonderful. I actually did my audition speech for drama school with Norman’s closing lines, so it was great to see it performed. Aside from seeing it on screen, I’d never seen the play.


Who has been your greatest inspiration?

Too many to mention! My father, John Cleese, Jack Nicholson, Alec Guinness …


What would you say to a student considering a career in drama?

It’s a very tough road so be sure you want to travel down it before you set off. The rejections can be very dampening to the spirits so it helps to have a thick skin – and if you haven’t got one, I recommend developing one fast. Do it because you have to, not just because you want to. It’s an overcrowded profession and you’ll need to stick at it before you actually get anywhere – unless of course you’re extremely lucky. And never let anyone put you off; if it’s your dream, go for it.


The Tempest promises to be a magical production with a mixture of classic Victorian magic tricks, great actors and state of the art technology by Intel and Imaginarium



Tom Turner is currently working on The Tempest for the RSC, in collaboration with Intel. Booking is open from 8 November to 21 January 2017. The production features motion-capture, like that used to create Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films, but achieved for the first time live on stage. It will air in cinemas from 11 January. Further information and tickets can be found at www.rsc.org.uk/the-tempest

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Your spotlight on drama education. Teaching Drama magazine is the ultimate resource for any theatre practitioner or teacher, offering features, practical advice and tips, lesson material, product and performance reviews, news and more.

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