Bring the Drama Festival
Date Posted: January 22, 2024
Actor and comedian Bill Bailey, renowned casting director Kelly Valentine Hendry and a host of special guests join Bring The Drama this February
Over 100 partners from theatre, TV and film to showcase craft roles in accompanying festival championing the UK’s world-beating creative industries
Bring the Drama is the new six-part series from BBC Arts and Wall to Wall Media for BBC Two and iPlayer opening up the world of screen drama to eight people who have always dreamt of becoming professional actors but have never had the opportunity.
Hosted by actor and comedian Bill Bailey, the eight aspiring actors are mentored over six weeks by renowned casting director Kelly Valentine Hendry, who has cast shows including Bridgerton, Gangs of London, Ghosts and Broadchurch. In each episode, the aspiring actors are welcomed onto some of the real-life sets from celebrated UK dramas such as Peaky Blinders, EastEnders and Silent Witness and tasked with working together to recreate iconic scenes with the real scripts, real cameras and the real time pressures that professional actors face. As they gain experience in different forms of screen acting they are given advice and guidance from a host of established actors including Natalie Cassidy (EastEnders); Genesis Lynea (Silent Witness, Champion); Charles Venn (Casualty, Dream Team); Ed Speelers (Downton Abbey, You) and Rochenda Sandall (Line of Duty, The Rig), as well as working with industry experts from the Peaky Blinders fight co-ordinator to the intimacy co-ordinator from Sex Education.
As the eight discover, the job of a screen actor is far from easy – and each production provides new challenges and opportunities for the actors to learn and find out whether they have the talent and skills needed to take the next step into the professional industry. At the end of the intense learning process, casting director Kelly selects three actors she feels are industry-ready to present their showreel at a major industry showcase for the chance to secure representation from a leading agent.
All eight actors secured their place in Bring The Drama through an open casting call process and were selected from almost 2000 amateur actors from across the UK. Chosen for their raw talent, none have been to drama school or found a way to break into acting professionally, having held back by a variety of factors and access issues.
As well as the direct guidance all eight receive in the series from industry professionals and specialist coaches, they also leave the process with a professionally shot showreel and follow up sessions with industry experts.
Bill Bailey said: “It has been a delight to work on Bring The Drama and witness first-hand how the actors have grown in confidence and skills over the weeks. What I particularly liked was the way it shows the whole process of making TV – being on an actual set, with a real crew to help you learn what it’s really like. It was great fun but also a brilliant insight into how casting works and a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of some of our most popular tv shows.”
Kelly Valentine-Hendry, casting director, said: “Historically it has been much easier to break into the industry if you come from a privileged background and the more we can do to change that, the better. This series is a brilliant way to emphasise and celebrate that great talent can come from anywhere. And above all, it’s a real insight into all the hard work that goes into bringing great drama to screen. It’s not easy – in fact, I think people will be surprised by how challenging it is!”
Suzy Klein, Head of Arts TV at the BBC, said: “We conceived Bring the Drama to shine a light on the fascinating world of being an actor – to show the expertise and skills needed to succeed and the challenges of breaking into such a fiercely competitive industry. Our acting cohort, like many people in the UK, have a real passion for drama but none of them have had the opportunity to go into the profession. With input from some of the UK’s leading drama schools, we developed a series that would really get under the bonnet of what it takes to become an actor, and were privileged to get onset with some of the country’s biggest TV dramas.
To accompany the series, we have created the Bring the Drama Festival so that anyone who wants to get into the many offscreen roles in theatre, film and TV can find an event near them, to introduce them to the magical world of working in the creative industries. There is so much talent across Britain and making world-class movies, TV shows and theatre is one of our greatest global exports – working with more than 100 partner organisations, the Festival promises to lure in the next generation of brilliant creatives.”
Bring the Drama Festival
Alongside the series is Bring the Drama Festival: a six week programme of careers events around the UK showcasing behind the scenes jobs in the creative industries. Over the six weeks, across the UK audiences will be able to find an event showcasing everything from stage-managing to wig-making, lighting to line producing, set design to make-up design. The BBC is joining forces with some of the UK’s leading cultural organisations to create the first festival of its kind: bringing together stage and screen and opening up the doors to the next generation of behind-the-scenes talent.
Those involved in creating the festival include Arts Council England, National Theatre, National Youth Theatre, Screen Alliance North, Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, Get Into Theatre, Into Film, Cameron Mackintosh, Bristol Old Vic, ScreenSkills, the BFI, BAFTA, Screen Scotland, Northern Ireland Screen and Ffilm Cymru.
The festival will feature hundreds of events with more than 100 partners from across the UK and features a range of activities including talks, tours, workshops, masterclasses, Q&As and meet the teams celebrating craft roles. Examples of the wide range of events include backstage tours at The Lyric Belfast throughout its production of Little Women; backstage tech tours of Hamilton and Les Misérables with the Cameron Mackintosh production teams; Bristol’s The Bottle Yard Studios running an marketplace event to showcase the vast range of careers across film, TV and theatre with a host of exhibitors; A Play, a Pie and a Pint in Glasgow opening their doors to showcase opportunities for craftspeople and stage managers amongst other craft roles; Northern Ireland Screen offering work experience opportunities across Northern Ireland; bespoke tours of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s many workshops in Stratford and BBC Cardiff Central hosting tours of the Crimewatch and Sin Bin sets. Other partners hosting and creating events include Sadlers Wells, the Royal Opera House, Into Film, The Curve theatre in Leicester, Liverpool Everyman, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Confetti Media in Nottingham and Whitechapel and BECTU in Glasgow.
Full details can be found by using the ERIC app from 1st February. Audiences can filter by their nearest city to find local festival events. ERIC is a free app that enables people to discover the world of careers in the creative industries. The app instantly connects users with local & remote career opportunities to build creative skills, experience and confidence.
As well as offering audiences opportunities to experience and understand the skill within these craft roles, the Festival aims to create a community for cultural organisations across film, theatre and television to share and collaborate and to work to tackle the skills gap that is present within the sector in these roles.
Bring The Drama (6×60) is produced by Wall to Wall Media UK. The executive producers are Emily Smith (Creative Director UK at Wall to Wall) and Alan Brown. It was commissioned by BBC Arts and BBC Factual Entertainment for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. The commissioners are Suzy Klein (Head of Arts and Classical Music TV) and Clare Mottershead (Commissioning Editor, Factual Entertainment and Events TV).
More information on Bring The Drama Festival including the full list of those taking part is available from BBC Arts – BBC Arts – Welcome to the Bring the Drama Festival