Sarah Mann (Fe. 1985-87) is performing at the Brighton Open Air Theatre (BOAT) later this month. Having achieved her dream of becoming an actress, we caught up with Sarah to find out just where her career has taken her since leaving the College...
- When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you 'grew-up'?
- What are you now you've grown up?
Well, I am an actress some of the time and also a voice-over artist as well as a Trinity examiner in Speech and Drama worldwide and a drama teacher.
- What is your best memory of school?
English classes with Simon Smith and Philip Robinson as well as being in several school plays, the most challenging being "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf" with Glen McCready.
- What was the best piece of advice you were given
I can't remember the advice but I do remember the encouragement to study the arts from all the teachers I had - wonderful. The best job advice I had after I left school was from Donald Sinden who said "Take everything they offer you darling- you never know where it will lead!" I have tried to do so.
- What does your job involve?
As I do more than one I have to keep a detailed diary of where I am and when. Acting involves self promotion and going to auditions and meetings as well as supporting colleagues when they are in shows. Once you've got the job you need to have a detailed understanding of the text before you learn it and research the context and style required. Then you build your character and look at vocal technique. Teaching drama requires you to know your texts in the same way but to have an overall picture of what challenges it presents for the student and how you can use technique to help them realise their character and situation. You also need to be energised and inspiring especially with youngsters who are either looking to improve their confidence or have fun. Directing a play means you need to have an overall vision for the piece and a desire to serve the writer by presenting their ideas clearly but with a dash of your own style. I recently directed "Hactivists" as part of The National Theatre Connections and needed to think about set design, costume, music and choreography as well as lighting design. Examining is an analytical process where you strive to use the same criteria to evaluate each student or group. It can involve flying abroad for several weeks and sitting in a theatre or room, watching performances and writing up a report for each one. This can be anything from a 7yr old doing their Grade 1 exam to a teacher's diploma - you need to be very organised, write quickly and have a broad knowledge of texts and styles.
- What have you done that you are most proud of?
Back in 1999 as an actress and producer it was very exciting to get 5 stars in The Scotsman when doing "I Know What You Want" written by my now husband, Jim Madden at Komedia, Edinburgh Festival. We had to transfer to a bigger theatre to accommodate the audiences and then went on tour. It was wonderful to see a project through from page to stage with such critical success. And I have been very lucky to adopt three rescue dogs...!
- What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?
More rescue dogs??! Or more sunshine...apart from that...absolutely nothing.
- What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
Complete Works of Shakespeare, something that plays music loudly and my laptop with an everlasting charger.
- How would you like to be remembered?
As a kind person who tried hard and hopefully inspired her students in some way.