Derry actress and director, Amanda Doherty, has secured funding from Invest NI in order to establish ‘The Actors Gymnasium,’ a theatre laboratory for adult actors in the city.
Described by one theatre critic as “One of the foremost young Irish actors in Britain at the moment,” Amanda has returned home to make the most of the opportunities the City of Culture year has to offer.
Having trained at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts Ms. Doherty now brings the skills acquired there to the Derry audience. The actress recently treaded the boards in ‘Heroes with their hands in the air’ and can also be seen playing Amelia Earhart, as part of Blue Eagle production Company’s ‘Ebrington Alive’ project. “It just shows you that the work is there for local actors. I really don’t think people have to move away any more.”
Having worked as an actress since she was 14 years old Amanda said: “For me it was just time to come home. I’m where I want to be. The Actors Gymnasium is really exciting. When I returned to Derry I noticed gaps in adult provision. I think work can be done to enhance the talent we have here and improve the artistic ensemble locally, to enhance the level of theatre on offer here by opening local talent to casting directors.”
The Actors Gymnasium will open in April with a series of masterclasses from leading theatre practitioners.
Ms. Doherty has established the Actors Gymnasium as a not for profit organisation and admits to being driven by a desire to contribute to the level of theatre in Derry. “This is my own country so this is where I need to be, to be working in the Irish theatre scene. The Gasyard were fantastic in helping me source funding and with getting a graphic designer to help me with my website.”
Amanda returned to her home city in Autumn to participate in the Culture night, since then she has thrown herself into all things 2013. Having joined the Derry scriptwriters group and signed up to the Liofa 2015 strategy in which she will be fluent in Irish by that date, simply put she doesn’t do, ‘sitting on her hands.’ “I always felt that if you give 100% especially in Derry then that’s what you get back any less and the returns depreciate also.” The former Thornhill pupil said she is; “Forever grateful for the level of support she received at Thornhill, even after my time there the teachers were fantastically supportive. When I told them I wanted to act, they never suggested that I would need to get a ‘real job.’”
Speakers already signed up to the Actors Gymnasium include Ibinabo Jack, who starred as Pilar in Legally Blonde. Ms. Jack will work on song and the auditions and repertoire; Kristal Sisodia of the Brit School who trained alongside Jessie J will work on voice development; Oliver Bennett from Rada will offer a West End perspective; Antonia Sheina of the Moscow Arts Theatre Company will take a masterclass on Stanislavski and Amanda will take classes on bringing Shakespeare to life and empowerment for the actor. For more information contact Amanda Doherty via www.facebook.com/amandadohertyactor