NEILSON’S COLUMN (February 12, 2015): Students learn how choices can really bring a character to life

I’ve spent most of the past month getting the students at our drama school ready for their acting exams.

These are organised by the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, or LAMDA as it is commonly known.

LAMDA exams are really excellent at getting drama students to take a more professional approach to acting.

Those taking the exams are encouraged to think about the appearance of their character and how their character feels, the mood of the scenes, the staging of the scenes and even how their character moves. All these things help an actor make better choices when playing a character and can often be the difference between an actor who really brings a character to life and an actor who simply recites the written lines while walking around the stage.

As some of our students are finding out, acting is actually hard work, maybe not as physically demanding as labouring (although it can be depending on the role) but still hard work, physically and mentally.

It was nice to see some of our students in the Millais and Forest Schools’ joint production of Grease at The Capitol theatre last week.

It was obvious that the young performers on stage had all worked hard at learning their lines, songs and dance routines, along with the required American accents to portray the pupils and teachers of Rydell High.

After a short while, I forgot that I was watching school kids and I was just enjoying a great show.

I must also mention the orchestra, which was made up of boys from Forest School. They were absolutely superb.

On Wednesday, I spent the morning talking to the author Robert Sellers, who is currently writing a biography of my friend, the late Peter O’Toole. Robert had read my first ever column in this paper, which I dedicated to O’Toole who had sadly passed away that December. Robert wanted to write a chapter about Peter’s love of cricket and as I was one of Peter’s cricketing mates, I agreed to help out.

O’Toole was the most unassuming film star you could ever meet; talented and hugely famous, but underneath it all, just an ordinary bloke who loved his cricket.

And lastly, my kidnapped pants are currently enjoying VIP treatment in a top hotel in Oman. From what I have seen on Facebook, they are enjoying themselves and living the life of Riley!