After spending every spare moment learning monologues, attending online classes, researching schools, watching peformances - the hard work has finally paid off. I have, after three years of auditions, been offered a place on a drama foundation course. I hate to use a cliche, but all I could think when the letter came through was "dream come true." But, there is a major hurdle in the way - paying for it. Glance at the target figure on the left, drama school is expensive. There is no government funding for the course which means it has to be self-financed. That's why I need your help.
I am the youngest of four born and raised in Harrogate, a lovely little town in North Yorkshire. Since I was a small boy I have always been excited by performance. I would spend my childhood putting on shows, from pop concerts in the living room to theatrical epics in the garden - unfortunately for my family. My first time on the stage came at the young age of three, playing the vital role of the donkey in the school nativity.
It wasn't until much later in my life I started exploring acting as a profession.I took theatre studies at A Level and it was the only subject which motivated me - the reason I came to school every day. I loved it but I didn't know anyone who was an actor and didn't have any real experience of it outside of school, it was not something I believed I could do.
I left sixth form at 18 and decided to take a year out; to work and travel, working at a supermarket to fund a year abroad entirely on my own. I was never as fulfilled as I was when I was on stage - returning from travelling I had a big question to answer: ‘what was I going to do with my life.' I didn't want to waste my life working towards something I had no passion for. So against every piece of advice from everyone older than me, I plucked up the courage to chase the 'impossible' and moved to London.
Every Northerner coming to London to make it as an actor finds out the same thing: this is a baptism by fire. It is an incredibly competitive industry and the cost of living in the capital is the highest in the UK. Despite that I was here to make something of my life. I found work temping in offices and pulling pints in pubs. My free time was spent trawling through charity shops searching for plays to read on my commute. The evenings were filled with trips to the theatre thanks to outreach programmes like Young+Free at the Donmar and National Theatre's Entry Pass that make theatre accessible to young people.
During a period of unemployment, I was selected to perform in an immersive street production for the Almeida Theatre Young Company - taking place during the Hamlet for Free festival. At the end of a week of performances we got to see Andrew Scott take on the prince. To be working with other young actors and seeing incredible performances was everything I had wanted when I decided to do it.
Since then I have gained more experience, training and confidence. I joined youth companies such as the National Youth Theatre, Young & Talented and Arcola Academy. In 2020 I was cast in my first short film and a play at the Arcola Theatre for the Creative Disruption festival, which took place the middle of March this year. It was the height of my professional career to date. Then the lockdown struck.
It was during this point my drama school auditions moved to self tapes. I was applying to only a couple schools who I had applied to previously. I received recalls from a few but didn't progress further. After all of my auditions for Ba Acting degrees, LAMDA invited me back but this time to audition for the foundation diploma, as they believed that for me it would bridge the gap between where I was now and where I needed to be to take the degree. Finally at the end of months of taping and waiting, I found out in mid-August that I am one of the 30 students, out thousands who apply, accepted onto the course. I was completely over the moon.
The largest hurdle and biggest barrier for me is the cost. I come from a low income family who cannot afford to support me with the fees. The school offers only one bursary to cover the tuition for the year but I missed out as I didn't receive my place until after it had been awarded. I have been saving every penny over the past year, but it's barely even enough to cover my living costs. That's where you come in and can help make a difference. Every penny towards my campaign is step closer to LAMDA and a step closer training.
The course costs £13,799 in total. I have to pay a deposit of £2,760 by the end of August, followed by four monthly payments of £2,760 up to December.
Why do I want to take the course?
The course will give me the chance to work with a range of performance styles. I will be studying improvisational acting, movement, physical theatre, voice, singing, social dance, and I will get to present self-created work at the end. I have been working towards professional training for nearly three years. When LAMDA suggested this would be the best next step for me I was excited to have some guidance. It is one of the most prestigious schools in the world and one of the oldest in the UK. I will be taught by teachers who in the past have taught Benedict Cumberbatch, David Oyelowo and Rory Kinnear.
Why should you support me
Nobody wants money to be a barrier to education. Nobody wants the acting industry to be a private space for those who can afford it. Unfortunately, at this moment in time, those things are true. But I won't let that stop me from trying.
Without your help it will simply not be possible for me to take this course. Every donation is a penny closer to reaching our goal. So I ask you, whatever you can do, whatever you can spare to help, please help me get to LAMDA.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
Harry aged 9
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