Name: Ellie Uden, GCSE Drama student
Congratulations on gaining work experience at Amazon Prime and being cast to star in a short film – how did this happen?
I’ve been using online audition platforms during my holidays ever since the first lockdown. Essentially, if people need help with filming anything, they submit onto these platforms where professionals go through, check their legitimacy, and then send them off. I submitted a self-tape for a short film during the Easter holidays because the character’s description appealed to me, and the director got back to me later that day and said they were really impressed and wanted to cast me to film during the summer! This year has had a lot of fab opportunities, and I actually managed to gain work experience on a higher budget production through family connections which are super exciting.
How did you first get into drama? How old were you when you first started?
I actually first realised how much I loved performing when I was really little because I started ballet at around 5. I worked my way up to grade five but decided to go a different way when I joined SLC in year six and realised how much I loved acting.
I was really shy in primary school, and would never have dreamt of auditioning for any major roles in our school plays, but it didn’t take long for the school to help me out of my comfort zone.
Starting out literally just practicing at home, the whole drama department fed into that love enough that by the end of Kirby I was on stage for The Canterbury Tales, incredibly nervous but also having the absolute time of my life. From there my confidence in performing has grown a lot, I think, which it absolutely wouldn’t have without the support I’ve gotten at school.
What opportunities are there for drama pupils at SLC?
I’ve always thought the school is such an amazing place to have any passion or talent acknowledged and nurtured, but especially drama in my opinion.
Ms Ross and Miss Young are always working so hard to make sure there are plenty of opportunities for kids all the way up the senior school, not only in the school productions but with Theatre Thursdays, showcases, and clubs whenever they can. There will usually be an opportunity in the near future for anyone who wants to perform, from small scale to something like Grease!
For someone looking to study GCSE drama, could explain what that entails?
GCSE drama has genuinely been one of the best experiences of my life and it was very emotional saying goodbye after our last exam. During the two years of the course, there is one written theory exam at the end of year eleven in which you analyse the acting and design of two plays. Throughout year 10 and 11, you are always getting stuck in with practical work, as two of your exams are based on performance, one devised and one scripted. Despite the stress of the lengthy process, I think devising our very own play inspired by Frantic Assembly last year was an absolute highlight for me, as it’s a small group where everyone’s ideas come together and you all bring them to life on your own, which is always something to feel proud of. There’s really something for everyone in GCSE drama because it goes into every single aspect of a theatre performance.
How often do you get the chance to perform at school?
Really frequently! Much more so than in some other schools which I’ve always been really grateful for. I’ve had times this year where, amidst drama lessons, activities and productions, I’ve had maybe four performing projects going at once. That’s when school is the most fun for me!
What character did you play in Grease?
Initially, I was finding it hard to adjust to the idea of such a big production after covid, especially since it was a musical and I had never sung in front of anyone before, and asked to be cast as an ensemble. A couple of weeks in there was a switch up though, and I ended up agreeing to perform as a pink lady instead, Marty. I’m so glad I did!
All the staff involved were amazing at building my confidence and in the end, I had the time of my life during the performances. She was such a fun character to play and I genuinely never wanted it to end.
What facilities do you have access to in the drama department?
We have access to Taylor Hall, which is absolutely the best privilege for anyone interested in drama. It seats about five hundred and has everything you could ask for in a theatre with regards to lighting and set. We are so lucky to have gained Mr O’Callaghan this year because, with all that we do with the theatre, it feels like such a professional atmosphere whenever you’re performing in there, and for anyone interested in the tech side of things, there are also the amazing facilities in there to explore the behind the scenes too.
What are your future aspirations? Where do you see yourself in the future?
I really just hope to continue to nurture my love for performing. Anywhere where I get to be with people who share my passion and have as much fun as I do now with any project I’m in will make me very happy, and I know I wouldn’t have been able to strive for that if it wasn’t for my experiences in the school, which made me believe that it was possible.
If you could star in any film that has already been made, what role would you play?
I’ve always thought starring in a role like Florence Pugh’s in Midsommar would be a dream for me; a role where you can really feel the depth of the character and portray a range of complex emotions that other people would engage with. Then again, I think a Lara Croft or Katniss Everdeen-style role would be pretty cool too.