Student Blogs

“I came across ActUpNorth and decided to be brave about it and audition” – Alice Weston

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I decided to go back to acting after a 5 year hiatus (aka‘life getting in the way’.) Having studied acting since I was about nine yearsold right up to degree level I was eager to find a class, get up there and meetsome new people. But everywhere I looked it was extremes: One class wasamateurs only, the next wouldn’t take you without a TV credit to your name andmost of them were obscenely expensive.

After trawling the internet Icame across ActUpNorth and decided to be brave about it and audition. I’mreally glad I did!

The classes have been helpfuland fun. It’s great to get together with a group of actors; there is no betterfeeling in the world than performing.

The tutorsare friendly professionals and the classes have a warm but focussed atmosphereto them. All they ask of you is that you turn up on time and behaveprofessionally. In return they will offer you advice and coaching to industry standard.

The most recent visit to ActUpNorth was by Rebecca Jenner; Casting Director and Agent.We were taken through the process of a mock casting with all the seriousness ofthe real thing. Easily the scariest thing I have ever done… and one of the mostawesome. We all worked hard for weeks to get our pieces right. The tutors spenta lot of time with us in class going through everyone’s piece with a fine toothcomb seeing how we could explore our characters in greater depth and play with
We were all nervous on the daybut we had received good advice from our tutors about managing nerves.

MeetingRebecca and getting to perform for her was an amazing experience. My nervesdrove my performance but she was such a nice person I discovered my nerves weretotally unfounded. The point of such visits to the classes, aside from gettingfeedback from people who do this sort of thing for a living, is to show youthat the act of going to a casting is scary,but not as scary as you might think… although having a classroom full of actorswho are on your side really does help!

My next project is a mockumentary being filmed with other members of the class, this isentirely independent of the lessons but I would never have met my newco-workers had I not been brave and just gone for it at ActUpNorth

What to expect: Greattutors, friendly class, professional work ethics, reasonable prices, guestspots by industry professionals, rare (but entertaining) bouts of corpsing andline-fluffing.

What not to expect: Egos or tantrums (unless it’s in the script of course.) Oh andwe all get up and perform; no one isallowed to sit shyly at the back!

“What an experience it has been!” – Anne Jones

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I joined ActUpNorth, in Leeds, earlier this year and what an experience it has been! I’ve met so many talented and inspiring actors/actresses, as well as guest tutors. The casting workshop held in August this year, with Casting Director, Sarah Hughes, gave us all a really good insight into how to use our imaginations in order to choose a monologue that would help us with auditions.

The classes are lively, great fun and we often have filming sessions where we can see how we come across on the camera. It is well worth the monthly fee, because it also provides so many opportunities through networking with other actors. I can’t wait for the classes to start again in September!

“The Dales and beyond!” – Amy Forrest

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Since moving to West Yorkshire two years ago joining “Act Up North” has been the BEST decision i have made career wise as going to this class doesn’t just teach you how to act in front of a camera it also advises you on how to actually get the job!

I graduated in 2003 with a HND in Musical Theatre and have performed in various plays and musicals over the years but my real love has always been acting.

Pete, Erin and David are amazing tutors and have opened many doors for me… Recently i was put forward for an audition by Pete for the role of Helen in the Trashy TV Show in The Syndicate on BBC1 and i was fortunate enough to get the part, which was an amazing experience and i got to work with some fantastic people!!

After the Syndicate i managed to secure a good agent in Manchester “Rare Talent Actors Management” and recently have just played the role of Lucy Hemingway in Emmerdale which will be aired on 21st June 2012.

Anyone i now meet that asks about getting into acting i always tell them to join, everyone’s so lovely and welcoming at the class, Pete does make you work hard and you do get challenged but its all worth it!! 🙂

“Comedy Gold” – Myra Pennington

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The last two classes of term involved a lot of team effort and self belief. Covering the genre of comedy we were once again invited to laugh at ourselves before we laughed at the script. In fact what I find the most fascinating about learning the art of comedy is more often than not the scripts, as written, are not always obviously funny. It is more the delivery, timing, pacing and sheer talent of the actor involved that brings the whole thing to an infectious giggle or laugh out loud conclusion.

As each pair of actors took up the mantle and showed our acting coach what we could do with the said piece, a pattern began to form. What we thought was quite funny and caused a few guffaws was just the beginning of what David was teaching and encouraging us to do. Although we still had to be aware of camera technique, we could afford to take a bigger and bolder decision on characterisation and quirky traits that would deem to get us a laugh.

During the playbacks of our filmed performances the floor was open for comment and suggestion of how to turn a simple gesture or innocent remark into comical delivery. Taking all of this on board my co actor and I became the guinea pigs, as we positioned ourselves on set ready to be filmed once more, but with the rest of the class watching the live feed on screen. Scary stuff but invaluable to learning what works and what doesn’t. So the team effort began! With each part of the performance being broken down and analysed the group offered commentary and suggestion for improvement. The resulting performance was a very different and very funny one compared to the performances of previous weeks.

As a closing note I would like to say that the best team effort during ActUpNorth ‘comedy’ weeks was the rendition of Happy Birthday sung to me by the whole class at the end of the workshop. Thank you team mates, it was …. pitchy, out of tune and the timing sucked …but the main thing is… it was funny!


This weeks ActUpNorth workshop was a master-class in auditioning for television. The very lovely and talented actress Samantha Siddall was both encouraging and constructive as she led us through a scripted piece written for a well known TV Soap.

The script was originally written for 1 male and 1 female character, but as there were more women than men in the class this week I paired up with another actress. We had a real giggle, getting to grips with the ‘flirtatious’ lines in the middle of the piece, which was only noted by us once Samantha had pointed this fact out : inner dialoguewent something like this “eehm! didn’t spot it-what were ya doin’- where were ya lookin’- focus – stop gigglin’ – do it!”

Because the storyline followed a confrontation between two parents about one child bullying another, as two women my co-actress and I played the “arms folded, hands on hips, finger pointing” stereotypical cat fighting mothers : I think we were trying to give Gail Platt and Sally Webster a run for their money! ( I’m not going to say which one I thought I was but my co-actress was a brilliant Gail!)

Samantha offered invaluable advice and guidance on how to find the character ‘as written’. i.e. in this instance – between a mother from one family and a father from another who, although arguing about the kids have sexual chemistry between them and potentially could become lovers. Talking us through gear changes, pacing, timing and delivery I was so glad I’d paid attention during the potty training/geometry lessons etc. (keep up – clues in previous blogs) because everything Samantha said made complete sense.

The industry professionals ActUpNorth invite in to deliver workshops for us mere mortals are giants in their own field and I feel so privileged and empowered. Determined in my pursuit of an acting career I am going to slap my thigh and climb that beanstalk, knowing there are willing and helping hands, not so much behind me but up above reaching down and pulling with all their might.


I can empathise with my Grandson, who at the ripe old age of 2yrs 5mths and 3 days is going through a significant development in his life. Because so am I. My ‘acting for screen’ training is akin to his potty training!

We both know what we need to do and when we need to do it, but just when we’re ready to take aim and go for a shoot – you’ve guessed it – it becomes a bit of a hit or miss affair!

Take last weeks class for example, when I attempted to walk, shoulder to shoulder, with my co-actor towards the camera: this is a definite MISS (think three legged race and you’ll get an idea of how much synchronisation this takes! I kept falling over my own feet.)
The next task was easier, because said Grandson helps me on a regular basis to turn ordinary dialogue into a drama : so this is a HIT.

And then on the final task, we had to look like we were walking through a fairground..
Just when David; actor, mentor, director and camera man, said ‘action’ I heard a noise, got distracted and peered through the window. OK I know,technically speaking I was being ‘nosey’ rather than ‘acting’ but it looked convincing on screen so I’m awarding myself : a Hit!

Now, going back to my Grandson, who today decided that 8, 9 ,10 precedes 1, 2, 3, I was reminded of the ‘mathematical’ journey we embarked on in class this week, as David introduced us to comedy. A genre not to be laughed at! (Pun intended). There are so many facets, angles and cornerstones to this funny business that the potty has been upstaged by the set square! There are no Hit or Miss options. The timing has to be perfect, the pacing just right and the characterisation spot on. As a comedy actor there is also a necessity to be able to laugh at oneself, and one of the first things I was encouraged to do, when joining ActUpNorth was to get over myself, or “get out of my own way” as Peter J Hunt our brilliant principal would say.

I fear my Grandson will have graduated before I master the art of comedic acting, but I have never been faint hearted and I have no inhibitions, so I’m ready to cover all angles and give it a shot. Hit or Miss? Who knows? But I bet I’ll have a laugh finding out!


The first line of the script we worked on this week started with “ we’re different people ……” and it could not have been a more appropriate opening to the workshop.
Yes we’re different people, but we all had the same script and therefore the same text to work with, so what was really interesting was how all of us in the class had different interpretations of the two ‘characters’ in the story. As each ‘pair’ of actors rehearsed and then delivered the same script it was proved time and again that there is no right or wrong way to bring the character to life – but there are lots of different ways! And that’s what I love about ActUpNorth sessions – we, as people and actors are allowed to be unique: I can remain true to myself, even when I’m being someone else.

There was another difference to this week’s class as well. Not one, but twoacting coaches : So I had David, in one ear reminding me about the artistry and creativity of a piece of drama : Peter, in the other ear re-iterating the skills and techniques required for acting on camera. And on top of that, my own running dialogue in between both ears “ I think that was the line – oops no, said it wrong, never mind , moment passed, on with next bit, now he said it wrong- how do I answer that? – ooh pausing too long – quick, phew made it!” “smile – leg it to seat and hide behind script.”

So having been informed, enlightened and encouraged to develop my own interpretation and individuality I can’t wait for next week, when we film the same script but using different camera angles. Apparently I’ll have to walk towards the camera whilst delivering dialogue, stop at a mark, cut, re position both (actors and camera), deliver more dialogue but this time the camera will be over my co- actors shoulder and right in my face. Agghh! I’m not sure I’m ready for a close up yet – wonder if I can request just a wide shot. “ Coward – me? No!”

Now, excuse me while I go to practise walking and talking at the same time – and don’t laugh until you’ve tried to do it on camera – but that’s a different story for next week – watch this space!

“Yeah – why the hell not!” – Kristin O’Mara

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Since I decided to pursue acting part time last year, I’ve grown in confidence and even more so since I joined ActUpNorth in October 2010. When Illy (TV Director) came in to see us, during a Q&A session in December, he simply said “If you want to act, why not write your own play?” and I thought “Yeah – why the hell not!!!” So that is what I decided to do!

After writing a few of the scripts myself (which I think this is an avenue I will also follow in the future) I probably didn’t realise how much planning was involved with the 8 mini plays and approx 25 actors from across the North, many of whom from ActUpNorth!!! But I am thoroughly enjoying this and thank god 99% of the actors involved have been helpful and just as enthusiastic as I am.

By doing this I’ve met some great people, made some great contacts, and the event will be raising money for Manchesters Booth Centre (they look after homeless people in and around the city) which makes it all worth while. So if you’d like to come and see some ActUpNorth talent (I will also be acting in one of the plays myself lol!), book tickets on and if I decide do this again in a few months time, let me know if you want to take part!

Kristin O’Mara

“Really learning a lot about screen acting” – Marie Marsh

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I was so nervous about attending Act up North, I did not know what to expect when I got accepted in October 2010, or if I would ‘fit in’ or even if it would be useful to me. However everyone was in the same boat, the other students were really nice and friendly, such a variety of people. We all get on great now we are getting to know one another and David and Peter the tutors really make you feel at ease. Its great having their expert advise on hand each week, and I am really learning a lot about screen acting. I am hoping that as time goes on I can develop some really good acting skills and who knows what the future could hold for me then…..

Also the castings that come in are a really good opportunity for us all. I really look forward to my class each week and continuing to learn from my tutors and the guest tutors.

Marie Marsh

“Nearly a year!” – Joanna Sartorius

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Well it’s been nearly a year since I joined Actupnorth in Liverpool, and what a year!

I have met great tutors, guest tutors, successful actors and the most talented students.

Most of all I have thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of our classes each Thursday night.

The great thing is the classes are geared for all abilities and even if your lacking in confidence, each week and with encouragement from the tutors and other students the confidence just grows and grows.

I am now only kicking myself I didn’t join earlier!

Just wanted to say thank you to Erin and Peter for the opportunity, it has been invaluable and after nearly a year I still get excited about coming to class!


‘…Mr Hunt I am ready for my close up!!

Well, what a week! After doing a few weeks of improvisation which is not a favourite of mine but had lots of fun and actually looking back made ‘fitting in’ with the class a lot easier. ( I am a relative newbie 5 weeks in) we are finally on scripts, Yay! Last week we were given a script from a film which we saw ourselves act out on camera. This week after learning the script we had another chance on camera and boy it was a close up! After viewing ourselves and having a bit of a laugh at ourselves, Peter gave us all constructive feedback. We have a great group in Liverpool and I have learned so much in these 5 weeks and I look forward to every Thursday. I find it challenging and rewarding and Peter brings the best out of us. We now have a script from an American film which I am trying to learn, and really looking forward to next week as we have a casting director working with us.Anyone thinking about joining ActUpNorth don’t just think it, do it, it’s the best thing I have done and you will gain so much confidence and gain lots of experience. Cant’ wait for next week, Mr Hunt I am ready for my close up!!

“Scripts from current TV programmes…fantastic!” – Tara Donelon

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Since I decided to pursue acting professionally I was at a loss on how to begin and what to expect. I started attending ‘ACTUPNORTH’ and learnt so much class by class. From how to audition, perform on camera (which was daunting at first and now is so much easier to do), what to expect in a casting and even had mock castings with respected industry professionals. The amount of scripts we have covered which are from current t.v programmes is fantastic and learning to get them off page as soon as possible is getting easier each week. I would highly recommend these classes to any aspiring actor, they also give you a great overview of the industry and are worth every penny.

“It’s what you don’t say” – Cameron Prudames

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We had a Casting Director from Manchester as a guest tutor tonight. Wow, what a night, full on and really enlightening. I personally learnt loads and most importantly, it’s sometimes what you don’t say that counts. Our eyes are drawn quite often to the person in a scene who’s not saying anything. Try it on your next improv. Don’t do it all the time though. We also learnt to be sheep tonight, something you should NEVER be. sorry for BLEETING on.


The Giggles. These are little monsters inside you that make you laugh at the most inappropriate time or for no reason at all, but mostly when you’re just about to do a scene at ActUpNorth. It happened to me tonight but you know what? there’s nothing better than getting ‘the giggles’ for calming your nerves. Another top night at the ActUpNorth Tuesday Class 😉


I suppose it happens to us all now and again, but tonight I just blanked. Completely forgot my lines. Nothing…nada….zip. Great advice from Pete ‘don’t put yourself under so much pressure’ – I hope Pete never has to tell you the same thing, but he will do……one day. Tonight’s class rocked!


I remember my first time…

Two newbies at tonight’s class, Welcome aboard! Tonight we sailed through the ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Fireworks’ with just a quick stop off at Sponge Bob Island. Class started with a random game where each pair chose a pop song title, which Pete swapped around the group. Our task to come up with improv scenes based on these hits. Nails were buffed at the ‘Club Tropicana Nail Salon’, and two withered out sponge’s were waiting to rehydrate in ‘The Flood’.

We ended tonight with more of The Stan’ approach to acting using ‘Round the Table analysis’ to really value every word in a script.

What a night, going to bed now, with a lovely cup of hot chocolate, oh no wait I mean …cinnamon.

Night guys ‘I just can’t stop loving you’


Eminem wrote a song about Stanislavsky he called it Stan. Remember the one where Stanislavsky locked up some bird in the trunk of his car and drove off a bridge. More from ‘Stan the Man’ tonight as we watched our breathing technique scenes from last week. Pete always has constructive criticism on every student and we all take it on the chin. More filming tonight (the same scene as last week) but different camera angles. Tonight’s class also had facial gurning, Pec flexing, tongue clicking, eye closing and More! (it’s up to you what ‘More’ is). BTW Pete’s mystery heavy breathing phone calls have stopped, maybe Slavsky made them before he drove off that bridge. Damn!


Breathe in and don’t foget to breathe out!!!’

Tonight’s class at Actupnorth was the second instalment from our 12 weeks worth of the ‘Stanislavsky’ approach to acting (thank goodness for Google’s ‘did you mean’). I typed Skaniflouski 😉
Nerves can attack you at any moment so what better way to combat them than with oxygen…. We learnt to breath in 3 times in and once out repeated 3 times or 3 times out and one time in repeated 3 times. It’s OK no-one fainted although one student did have an enormous coughing fit, it’s OK though he’s old.

Pete commented that he could see a real difference in the performances in front of the camera with the breathing exercises, he was even out of puff himself at the end of the class.