I’ve been chatting to Simon Dunmore, author of An Actor’s Guide to Getting Work, the fifth edition of which publishes next month. He’s also editor of Actors’ Yearbook 2012: Essential Contacts for Stage, Screen and Radio, now in its 9th year. Both books are published by Methuen Drama.
As soon as I mentioned on Twitter that I was about to do this interview I was spontaneously contacted by rising young actor Peter McGovern, who appeared as Braun alongside David Haig in the recent, highly successful tour of The Madness of George III. It re-opened this week at the Apollo Theatre in the West End with both Haig and McGovern still in the cast.
What McGovern, who comes from Yorkshire, wanted to tell me was that, in his teens, he knew nothing about how to train or become an actor and that there was little access to information in his community. “To a naive and clueless aspiring actor, with no idea about drama school or the acting profession Simon Dunmore’s books were an enormous help. At the time, they felt like my only real link with the industry I was hoping to enter,” he wrote.
“His books became my bible,” continued McGovern who graduated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2010. “They demystified a previously mysterious world, and provided simple, practical advice on how to prepare for drama school auditions, and make the most of my talent.”
I was more than happy to share this upbeat response with the delighted Dunmore, who now teaches on the Foundation Course at East 15, with decades of directing and teaching behind him. And it leaves me with little more to add here about Dunmore’s useful books although I will feature the interview in The Stage soon.
Pause for thought though. Doesn’t this show just how important training books are? I frequently feature them here (I ‘did’ a batch earlier this week, for example) and on the Training pages in The Stage because I know how many people there are out there who are thirsty for practical, but often elusive, information about this complicated industry of ours.
As I have often commented - without pleasure - many secondary school teachers and careers advisers do not know enough about the performing arts professions to tell young people the facts and far too many of them see it as their responsibility to talk young people out of their dreams.
So the more teenagers and young adults who, like Peter McGovern, discover useful reference books, such as the ones by Simon Dunmore, the better. For a start both An Actor’s Guide to Getting Work and Actors’ Yearbook should be in every school and careers library — but I bet they’re not.