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Monthly workshop gives young actors chance to learn from stars

By Amanda Ferguson

Published 09/10/2015

Ciaran Hinds is among the performers from stage and screen who will guest lecture for Theatre Masterclass Northern Ireland
Ciaran Hinds is among the performers from stage and screen who will guest lecture for Theatre Masterclass Northern Ireland

Showbusiness stars of the future are to be given the chance to work with the cream of the Northern Ireland's acting talent following the launch of a new masterclass project.

Ciaran Hinds, Dan Gordon, Jenna Russell, Killian Donnelly and Carla Stronge are among the performers from stage and screen who will guest lecture for Theatre Masterclass Northern Ireland (TMNI) a new monthly workshop set up by actor Fra Fee.

London-based Fra (28), originally from Dungannon, is best known for playing Courfeyrac in Tom Hooper's film adaptation of Les Miserables.

"We are trying to give people in Northern Ireland a head start, experience and confidence before auditioning for drama school or entering the industry," the TMNI director said.

The monthly masterclasses, starting on November 15 in Belfast, cost £35, and are open to 14 to 25-year-olds. Areas of focus include acting through song, composers and audition technique, introduction to Shakespeare, classical monologues and how to become a musical theatre artist.

Fra was inspired to set up TMNI, with support from his sister Claire Murray's production company Blunt Fringe, after learning of savage cuts to the arts and education budgets in Northern Ireland and the reduction of drama courses for students here.

"As a teacher in several drama schools in London, I think it's important to offer specifically tailored training for young actors, perhaps aiming to audition for drama school and are unsure of what is now expected of them," Fra said.

Game of Thrones actor Ciaran Hinds has said he is fully supportive of the initiative and "look forward to working with the stars of tomorrow".

Actor, director and producer Dan Gordon said with the closure of Belfast Met's performing arts courses and other cutbacks in the arts, TMNI was a great opportunity to offer young people world-class experience.

"I am very supportive of any new initiative to get people into the business," he said.

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