Julie Spencer Speaks out on Actor Training


Julie Spencer, Director of the School of Acting at ArtsEd featured in two articles this week discussing the evolution of drama training and the drive for change, especially in regard to representation in conservatoires.

Bush Theatre held a conversation with Julie on their platform ‘Bush Green’, where Julie spoke about her experiences as a black woman in the arts, and how she has developed the acting courses at ArtsEd to better reflect the cohort of students:

“[The biggest change I’ve made is] being a woman, and Black, and just being here. I also think broadening the curriculum so that students can learn through their own lens shows you how extraordinary, young Black and Brown students are. They have been learning through someone else’s lens all this time and they’re still succeeding, they’re still willing. But they’re still learning through someone else’s lens. That takes so much time and energy and resilience to be able to do that. My thing is about learning through your own lens. You cannot learn through a 40-year-old white man’s lens, which is what people have been doing.”

This was shortly followed by an article in The Stage by Lyn Gardener, discussing how drama schools should go about adapting with the times, gathering opinions from across the sector. Julie stands proudly on the side of change:

“Actor training can’t remain static. If you have different students in the room, you have to respond to that. It’s about widening the canon and the curriculum, not losing rigour, […] when you shift privilege, there are always people who complain something is being lost”.

Photo: Julie Spencer with Acting students. Credit: Robin Savage