WHY IS MISHMAK SO MUCH CHEAPER THAN STAGECOACH?
Stagecoach is a franchise and some of them are fantastic. They have a lot more overheads than us as they have all those franchise costs to pay. We are a new start up – the first ever Mishmak Youth Theatre and although we would like to expand, we have no plans to franchise our company. We are able to offer our members the chance to opt in and out of our 3 disciplines (drama, singing and dance). Although most of the young people who attend Mishmak choose to participate in all 3 disciplines, that is not essential and we do have members who prefer to just do 1 or 2. Payment is due on the first day of each term. We don’t tie our members into paying for terms in advance as circumstances can change quickly which can mean they have to take a term out. We are happy for our members to do that. And we are even happier when they come back the following term!
WHY DON’T WE DO EXAMS?
Mishmak Youth Theatre has a focus on performance. It is our general feeling that you learn more about performing by actually performing than you do by sitting an exam in the the theory of performing. It is also subjective and simply a matter of opinion, an actor that I love – you could loathe and vice versa. Exams set up a hierarchy and that is something we try to avoid at Mishmak. We want everyone to be on a level playing field and everyone’s contribution to be valid. That becomes a lot more difficult as soon as you start putting grades next to performances. It would be impossible for us to be an exam factory and do the number of performances we do per year – we would rather do the performances. If we are to be judged then judge us on our shows and the way our members work together as a team.
DO YOU HAVE A MODELLING/ACTING AGENCY?
No. We are more than happy to provide advice about agencies and to point members and parents in the right direction if they want to get an agent and start going to professional castings but this is not something we are interested in doing. If we did have a Mishmak Agency, we would have to select certain children to put on our books and leave others out. Those children would then be out going for castings and potentially securing professional acting work. I don’t see how we could possibly do this and maintain our ethos. There are no favourites at Mishmak, every child is given the opportunity to shine. We encourage our casts to work together as a team and encourage rather than compete with one another.
We have been contacted on numerous occasions by casting directors directly who are looking for young people to audition – this is normally because they know our ethos and like it! When this happens we put them in contact with any children who attend Mishmak and fit the casting breakdown and then leave it to them. We never take commission.
Acting agents are professionals in their field and submit their clients to casting directors who then decide whether to call them in for an audition or not. If the client books a job, the agent takes a commission on their clients work. No agent should EVER charge upfront fees to join an agency or force you to have headshots taken with a certain photographer. You can always call Equity to check an agents integrity and make sure they are not blacklisted. www.equity.org.uk
WHERE IS YOUR ‘STAR PUPILS’ WEBPAGE?
You will see from browsing other theatre schools websites that they have a ‘star pupils’ page. A page dedicated to any former or current member who has gone on to drama school or dance college or professional acting work etc.
We have a number of members who secure professional acting roles through their agents and who have gone on to study at Brit School and other specialist drama colleges. We also have former pupils who are now at drama school or studying performing arts at University. That is great and I am really proud of all those kids. But I am also really proud of the kid who was so shy they wouldn’t speak in front of the class at the beginning of term, who then stood up and performed a duologue in front of 250 people at one of our shows. And the kids who are brave enough to sing solo lines in our shows, to bust their best moves in a dance routine, and the kids with special needs who are fully integrated in to our performances.
Not everyone who attends Mishmak wants to be a performer when they grow up, some want to get more confident, some want to develop public speaking, make friends, have fun, do something that scares and excites them. All those kids are stars. We celebrate all success at Mishmak, that makes us pretty unique.