Roma Harvey helping Derry adults to ‘Act the Whack’ with new drama group
Roma Harvey is the drama facilitator and coordinator in Studio 2, where she hopes to create a positive change in the adult drama scene in Derry.
Roma has been working with Studio 2 for a year, first as a freelancer but, more recently, she has joined a funding scheme aimed at developing an artists career. She will spend three years with Studio 2 and hopes to spend her time developing the theatre department and eventually forming a theatre company.
Roma said: “I saw a gap in the market where there used to be adult drama classes before but there aren’t any now in Derry - or none that I’m aware of anyway. I think Studio 2 is a great place to start out, especially for someone who has never acted or done any drama before because we’re only starting, too. I thought it would be a good idea to give people a place to start and try something new, where they can develop their own work and get things on their feet here in a very relaxed environment.
“I do stand-up in Bennigan’s comedy club and I always found that a really good space that facilitates new comedians. It’s always a really supportive environment so I wanted to create somewhere like that for acting and theatre work. The group will help develop and practice skills in improvisation, character development, storytelling and performance, devising theatre, script writing and directing and anything else participants want to try. People get a chance to try everything and, if they find that they enjoy one thing in particular, they are able to focus on that and develop their skills in that area. There’s no pressure to do anything, though. It’s a group, more than a class so people will be able to learn from each other and bring different experiences.”
Roma studied Drama in University of Ulster, Magee and has since gone on to appear in short films, music videos, on stage and in festival entertainment in Derry. She has even written and directed a short film for the BBC called ‘Truce’ and appeared in a DOE Road Safety advert.
“People always say to be really good at nothing,” she said. “Try a bit of everything but don’t focus on one thing. I’ll be drawing on all my experience in different fields to help other people but I’m not an expert in everything and I’ll not be teaching, per se. I’ll facilitate the classes but people will, hopefully, bring their own ideas and be able to take the lead on different things. It’s more of a skill-share than a class. There will hopefully be people with years of experience as well as complete beginners and, more than likely, people with more experience than myself so we’ll all be able to learn from each other.
“More than anything else, it’s a very sociable thing to do. The classes are two hours long but the first half hour will probably be spent with a cup of tea, chatting and sharing ideas. It’s a lovely way to socialise and have some craic and I think it would really help to build your confidence, too. You can make work and learn as much as you want but you can also just come to have some fun, if that’s what you want. The group will be, to each individual person, whatever they want to make of it.
“I would love to develop more professional acting groups, which is why I love working with adults and teenagers. We’ll start out with a 12 week programme, where for the first six weeks we’ll try a bit of everything. We’ll do improvisation, we’ll do directing, character development, writing and other things. The next six weeks, people can focus on particular elements they liked and then we’ll have a showcase. In the new year we’ll be able to develop more theatre and events and things.
“We also have other programmes for adults here. We have a Good Relations Programme at the minute called ‘Building a Home for All’ and there’s an adults writing group in that. We work with adults with disabilities too in the Bud Club and we also have traditional music classes for adults.”
The cost of the acting group is £5 a week, which allows members to access facilities in Studio 2 if they wish to make use of them for production, rehearsal space or experimenting with any projects or ideas they may have. The group will meet on Wednesday nights from 6.30pm-8.30pm in Studio 2. Register online at www.studio2derry.com/registration.