Starting Shakespeare Acting Course 2015-16This course is for anyone who has not received formal training, aspires to become a professional actor and shows potential to be a great performer.

You might be in a youth or community theatre, an amateur dramatics society or an after-school drama club and want to focus on developing your performance skills with professionals.

The course takes place once a month at QUAD in Derby from September to June for a series of workshops to develop skills such as text, voice, movement, combat, singing, puppetry and acting to camera.

1623 trainee actors 2014-15While the focus in each workshop is on Shakespeare, the skills that you develop are transferable to all aspects of theatre and performance.

Each month, you will have the opportunity to perform a short scene at Shakespeare Night, 1623's monthly public workshop at Derby Theatre.

The course culminates in June, when a public showcase takes place at QUAD.

To read the blog of someone who was on a past course, click here.

The 2015-16 Starting Shakespeare acting course will begin in September 2015 and take place monthly until June 2016.

Starting Shakespeare Acting Course 2015-16Auditions for a place on the course will happen on Saturday 4 July 2015 at QUAD.

We ask that you prepare a speech from a Shakespeare play of your choice to perform at your audition. The speech must be no longer than 3 minutes long. We will also ask you a few questions about your plans to become a professional actor.

If you have any questions, please contact our training coordinator This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

To apply, please go to and fill in the online form.

: Starting Shakespeare 2014-15

The following people were on the 2014-15 course and appeared in Shakespeare Hotel, a showcase event at QUAD on Saturday 20 June 2015

Connie Adu-Poku

Connie has been in youth theatre for over 5 years now and enjoys every minute. Born as a Londoner, Connie studied Drama and Theatre Studies, Dance and English Literature in the hope of taking Drama to the next level. Over the past year she has been with Whatabout Youth Theatre and thoroughly enjoys it. Through this, she found out about the 1623 trainee actors course and hopes to expand her knowledge of Shakespeare and improve acting skills.

Kitty Benford

Kitty is currently in her second year of studying Theatre and Professional Practice at the University of Bedfordshire. She has been acting since a young age, playing all manner of roles her, favourite being Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd. Kitty is also part of Whatabout:theatre company, and loves making work with them. They are what lead her to working with 1623! She is hoping that this experience with 1623 will broaden her knowledge of Shakespeare's work and ideas on how to work with it.

David Leicester 

If I had my time all over again, I’d avoid the mistakes I’ve made in my life and make more interesting ones instead. For instance, in the 1970s, in my strapping twenties, I should have been a failed actor. I had previous. I’d been in school productions, as an under-nourished Mark Antony in Julius Caesar, as the lascivious Volpone (though I didn’t know ‘ravish’ from a salad vegetable), and Edgar in King Lear (to the relief of the audience, Poor Tom kept his top on). At college I was Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger (a performance of retrospective peevishness). So I should’ve read the signs. I shoulda been a contender. A failed actor in the ‘70s would have started with ambitions to be the next Malcolm McDowell, but, failing to make his mark, he’d have been persuaded to join a children’s theatre company, confusing the little cherubs with portrayals of a teapot, or a clock, or a dandelion left out in the rain. The final straw would’ve come doing agit-prop, and that night he played a sink estate in Hackney, being heckled by a man with a pitbull and a face obscured by tattoos. But by then the between-jobs standby as a cleaner would’ve become his career. So he was well-qualified to be another victim of Thatcher’s Britain. At least he’d have had stories, of the time he stood on Ralph Richardson’s foot or when he spilled blancmange down Helen Mirren’s dress. Ah well… But it’s never too late. Now I can learn to mistreat the Bard in earnest. I can see the notices – ‘A far from definitive portrayal of Polonius…’ (The Daily Grumbler), ‘… better suited to playing Yorick,’ (The New Mills WI Newsletter). (Im)mortality awaits.

Katyana Malcolm

Katyana is part of Derby Shakespeare Theatre Company and Chellaston Players. Her credits include: Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Love's Labour's Lost and Macbeth. She is also directing 'The Three Musketeers' pantomime for Chellaston Players. She is also highly interested in music and enjoys playing trumpet on stage. Katyana hopes to go on to a professional career in acting.

Nicola Morley

Nicola is currently in the middle of studying for her A-levels. Her studies of English Literature and love of acting have combined in an equal love for all things Shakespeare. She hopes that this course will allow her to use her knowledge of both to extend her abilities in acting, specifically in her favourite playwright's work. This will also allow her to increase her current actinge experience, which was initially sparked during her GCSES. At school, she has performed in scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and played an ensemble role in Sweeney Todd. The 1623 trainee actors course is an opportunity for Nicola to explore acting and her other creative interests, which include writing and music. She also sees the course as a stepping stone toward her dream of being on the professional stage, an ambition that takes hold most prominently when she makes one of her frequent visits to the theatre.

 Sophie Whitebrook

Sophie has loved acting and performance from a young age and is always on the lookout for the next opportunity to pursue this passion. She has taken part in shows such as The Children of Hercules with Derby Live Youth Theatre and The Chrysalids with Derby Theatre Youth Theatre. Sophie became interested in Shakespeare upon watching the National Theatre Live version of Othello and has not looked back since. She hopes that the 1623 Trainee Actors course will increase her proficiency with Shakespeare, and also equip her with transferable skills to help her succeed as a professional actor.

: Starting Shakespeare 2013-14

The following people completed the 2013-14 course and appeared in a showcase event at QUAD in June 2014.

Sean Chamberlain

Sean started acting at the age of eleven and has been in a number of amateur performances with small drama groups. He has completed a BTEC Level 3 course in Acting at the Manchester College and is currently studying Musical Theatre at the same campus. During his time at college, he has been in performances such as A Midsummer Night's Dream, Posh and Spring Awakening. Whilst with 1623, he hopes to further his ability and understanding of Shakespeare in order to perform it and other connecting art forms with confidence and clarity.

 Georgie Daunt

Georgie has been acting since she was four and has been in a number of productions – both professional and amateur – over the years. She has attended many different classes and workshops the more recent ones including: Derby Academy of Acting, where she has developed her skills on both naturalism and Theatre of the Absurd; Nottingham Playhouse Youth Theatre, where she has looked in detail at some of Shakespeare’s works and explored physical theatre; and day workshops at RADA – Speech and Voice, An Introduction to Meisner and Improvisation. Georgie helps run a drama club at school for Years 9, 10 and 11 as well as running a 15 minute slot for Year 6s in her local Youth Theatre. Georgie’s most recent performance was as Heckler in 1623’s Zombie Shakespeare.

 Callum Durrant

Callan is currently training at Derby Theatre as part of the University of Derby's Theatre Arts course. He has also begun to work professionally in the UK. Most recently, he has appeared in Welcome to Thebes and The Erpingham Camp, both of which were performed in the East Midlands. His first professional appearance was in an open-air tour of The Taming of the Shrew as Lucentio. He hopes that whilst working with 1623 he can develop his skills as a performer as well as get into the hearts and heads of Shakespeare's characters. View Callan's CV on Spotlight, watch his showreel on YouTube and follow him on Twitter.

Isaac Golding

I have not really done much acting before, but I hope 1623 will help build my skills and confidence up so that I may do more in the future. I focus on dancing and have performed with the English Youth Ballet in Coppelia when they came to Nottingham in 2010. I also worked with the Midland Theatre Ballet for two years in Birmingham, where I performed in Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast. I've always enjoyed Shakespeare's work and hope that I will start to understand it more with the help of 1623.

Shelley Reynolds

Shelley spent the last year in London where she studied at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in Clapham and she has gained a lot of valuable skills and experience from her time there. She had the opportunity to play the role of Eva Mason in Peter Whelan’s The Accrington Pals whilst studying. She has also taken part in the National Theatre Connections play Alice by Heart, in which she played the Queen of Hearts. She is also a National Youth Theatre member. Shelley knows that her training at 1623 will help add to her love for Shakespeare and acting. She hopes to learn and experience as much as she can with 1623 to better herself as an actor.

: Starting Shakespeare  2012-13

The following people completed the 2012-13 course and appeared in a showcase event at QUAD in June 2013.

Rachel Benson

Rachel has been in a range of productions, including two different productions of Oliver! in which she has played both Oliver and Nancy. She has also been in plays such as The Pie and the Tart and has been a member of Derby LIVE Youth Theatre for three years. More recently, she has received roles in short films, including one on mental health, and has performed in a feature-length zombie film, shot locally in Derby.

Jessica Burman

Jess has received training at Derby Academy of Acting since the age of thirteen. Previous to that, she was part of the Derby Playhouse Youth Theatre and Tiptoe Academy of Performing Arts. She was lucky enough - at the age of 13 - to be cast in Derby Playhouse's professional production of Stepping Out, which was one of the the best experiences of her life. This reinforced her desire to learn the craft. Since graduating from the 1623 trainee actors course, Jess was cast as Audrey, Olivia and Phebe in 1623's Stand-Up Shakespeare.


Darius appeared in the Derby LIVE production of Children of Hercules and has recently performed at Derby Theatre in the Good Companions production of Oliver! In 2011, he played General Malahyde in Gargantua for the National Youth Theatre at Deda and the Sheffield Crucible Theatre. Darius is currently preparing for a school production of Little Shop of Horrors, in which he will play Orin the Dentist.

Lucy Daunt

Lucy has been acting since the age of 7. She has performed in various productions, both professional and amateur, including Doctors for the BBC. She attend Nottingham Youth Theatre where she explored physical theatre and looked at the work of various practitioners, including Berkoff and Brecht. She also attend Derby Academy of Acting where we she worked on Stanislavski, Shakespeare and Theatre of the Absurd. Lucy's Youth Theatre work has led her to perform at the Regional Youth Theatre Festival in Wellingborough. Her most recent performance was as Juliet with 1623 theatre company at Derby Museum. Lucy currently runs a drama club for Years 9, 10 and 11 at her school.

Harry Gibson  

From a very early age, Harry has pursued a career in acting.  After achieving a LAMDA gold medal in solo acting, he went on to train at the Derby Academy of Acting for a year.  Harry is also an accomplished musician on both violin and piano. In 2011 he appeared in a production of Bassett at the Sheffield Crucible and the National Theatre as part of the NT Connections Festival.  More recently he appeared in the professional production of Angela's Ashes: A Musical with Uncontained Arts which is set to be performed at the Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick, in July 2013.  Harry is also a member of the National Youth Theatre and appeared recently in 1623’s Midsummer Magic at Cromford Mill.

Christopher Macauley

Christopher has previously appeared in the amateur Lace Market Theatre production of Moira Buffini's Dinner, playing Lars. He has also performed in student films and small acting spots in comedy shows. Since becoming a 1623 trainee, Christopher has played Clarence in Supernatural Shakespeare and RedPix, one of the Pixel Pixies at Derby QUAD. To find out about Christopher's experiences while he was on the 1623 trainee actors course, read his diary by clicking here

Steve Pryce

Steve’s main acting experience to date has been with amateur companies. In the early to mid nineties, he was a member of the Marlowe Players, performing in such plays as Harvey, Good, and his personal favourite, The Roses of Eyam, in the Derby Playhouse Studio. Then there was a period where real life got in the way, and it wasn't until Steve became a Derby LIVE steward that his interest in theatre returned, and he became a member of the Derby Shakespeare Theatre Company. Steve was cast as a member of the Watch in their production of Much Ado About Nothing, which allowed him the opportunity to perform at the Minack Theatre at Porthcurno in Cornwall. More recently, he’s been an extra in the Derby Soap Opera. He was cast in the role of Angus with Derby Shakespeare Company for their production of Macbeth, and recently played the Blue Team King for Games Time, as part of Derby Feste in September 2012.

Sylvia Robson

Sylvia is an actor based in the East Midlands. She has experience in theatre, feature film, shorts, theatre-in-education, physical theatre, devising, combat, role-play, corporate work and voiceover. She has taken part in many acting courses and workshops over the years. She found the 1623 trainee actors course a great experience as she worked on and performed Shakespeare. In 2013, Sylvia played Titania in 1623's Midsummer Magic tour. For Sylvia's full CV on Casting Call Pro, please click here.

Rachael Stevens

Rachael studied for an acting foundation degree at Leicester College, during which time she played roles including Ophelia in Hamlet, Jennifer in The Misanthrope, Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She is a member of The Idols, a Leicester-based amateur musical theatre society, with whom she performed in Hello Dolly as well as a series of concerts. Rachael was a member of Leicester Drama Society's Youth Company from the age of 12 to 16, when she took part in various different productions. Following on from this, she was a member of the adult society, with whom she attended many acting workshops and took part in showcase performances. 



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