From education to employment

A Profile of a Leading Light in Theatre and Questors Theatre Actor Training

Further Education is quite simply awash with acronyms and agencies, all purporting to work towards the same goal of educational improvement and training provision.

With all the clamour about targets and deadlines, conferences and launches, White Papers, Green Papers, proposals and so forth, the face of the learner and of the people involved in actually providing direct training and education can be lost in the maelstrom. But the story of the front line educators, often underpaid, overworked and shy of the spotlight, forms a large part of what makes FE unique. And, in Nicholas Jonne, the theatre world meets the education world in a synthesis of progress and expression.

The Performance

Mr. Jonne is an experienced director and playwright. In February, he was at the Questor’s Theatre in West London for the staging of his play, coda4maKbet. This chilling tale of young actors Kimiya Yektaa and Kristian Mulholland (played by Salome Azizi and Dieter Thomas) lured to Eastern Europe in pursuit of their dreams of stardom was written and directed by Nicholas Jonne.

His was far from a hand ““ off role; indeed, he also starred with a moving performance as Kornelius, the leader of the acting company in the play, “Teatr K”. Mr. Jonne is also intimately acquainted with the Questor’s Theatre programme, having taught all but one of the cast of coda4maKbet in the programme. He explained after the performance: “Questors Theatre has run a part time acting course for over fifty years. It is a two year course, two evenings a week plus Saturday afternoons.”

The Course

This production was a joint production between theatrestorm and the Questor’s programme. He explained a little more concerning the formulation of the course, describing it as: “A presentation at the end of year one, more of a workshop kind of thing and in the second year the students are directed in one studio play and one playhouse production. Many then go on to drama school and some go straight into the profession. [The students are] often mixed ages, minimum 18 years old, [with] no real maximum.”

Mr. Jonne explained his responsibility within the course as being the training of “the physical theatre aspect”, something he has taught for more than twenty years. He continued: “I have a great loyalty to the course as I was originally on it before I could afford to go to drama school. I support it because it is there for people like me (at the time) who for whatever reason cant go to full time drama school or who are waiting to go.

“I have been a professional actor, director and writer and of course teacher for many years,” he went on to say. “All but one member of the cast in coda4maKbet was an ex student of mine. I like to give them an opportunity to work in this way if I can. I am about to start work on a film with two of them within the next couple of weeks.”

The production is not finished, however; the coda4maKbet cast will be regrouping for the London fringe next year. It can only be hoped that those audiences enjoy the play, and the performances, as much as the audience at Questors. It is important that expression and education walk hand in hand, rather than dividing the two unnaturally; Mr. Jonne, his company and the Questors Theatre are good examples of what can be achieved, and how much artistic expression means.

Jethro Marsh

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