TRISH LEE talks to local coach Josh Buckland of Berzerk Productions, who now offers theatre classes in the village for young people from six to 18
SO you’ve just started coaching for Berzerk in your own home village, having recently graduated. Where did you study?
I studied drama and theatre studies at Royal Holloway University of London.
When did you decide drama was your thing?
All kids love dressing up and playing pretend and I was no exception. I made my parents watch a lot of plays in the living room, I did a lot of school shows and got involved with Berzerk as a student when I was about 14. My decision to study drama came from how much creative rein it gave me. I always felt more comfortable in a creative environment than an academic environment as I liked using my imagination. There was no doubt in my mind from about the age of 16 that I wanted to study and work in the field of drama in some way.
You are a Berzerk ‘old boy’?
Yes, I was a student with Berzerk during my awkward teens. Berzerk provide drama
coaching for young people, offering weekly drama workshops, productions, LAMDA classes and summer and Easter schools. Personally, Berzerk gave me the opportunity to perform in a theatre outside of school for the first time, helped me build my confidence, taught me heaps about performing and working with others. It’s also a great place to make friends – there’s a lovely sense of community at Berzerk.
What can Berzerk offer young people?
Berzerk offers drama workshops, building a supportive environment where each individual can be creative and allow their performance skills to develop at their own pace. I remember coming to Berzerk for my first session as a teen and being extremely nervous beforehand because you hear horror stories of super-competitive, scary drama environments. Berzerk couldn’t have been more different. I walked in and was made to feel really welcome by the coaches and students. Berzerk’s workshops instil the idea that everyone’s voice and ideas matter. That is really what Berzerk is all about – it transcends just teaching about performance and endorses qualities like trust, teamwork and self-confidence, which are
valuable in all walks of life.
What are the benefits of drama?
Watching the confidence of individuals grow is one of the most rewarding things about coaching at Berzerk. Drama nurtures creativity, gets the imaginations of young people working and helps them to learn from each other on a very human level. In a time where young people are more and more invested in technology, classes such as these are so valuable in that respect.
What’s involved in the Compton sessions?
They are split into three classes; a junior drama factory class (6-11s), a senior drama factory class (11s+) and a LAMDA class, in which we provide one-to-one coaching for professional performance examinations.
The drama factory sessions introduce and help students build upon their performance skills in a team environment. We play games that instil ideas of teamwork, trust, focus, mime, character, voice work, staging, improvisation – and much, much more.
As coaches we create bespoke themed workshops that combine these activities with pair-work and group work where the students can devise and perform their very own pieces of theatre as a team. Once a term we will put on a showcase of the children’s work and are potentially looking at doing a performance project with the Compton class next term.
Do you offer ‘taster’ sessions?
We do indeed. The first session is always free so do come along and see if you would like to become a part of the weird and wonderful Berzerk family. The junior sessions are 4.30pm-5.30pm every Tuesday at Compton Village Hall, followed by the LAMDA class from 5.30pm-6pm and finally the senior class until 7pm. Berzerk also run a number of large-scale productions and arts events. Every year we put on a Christmas show with the students. Last year’s was a musical version of Disney’s Aladdin, complete with a flying carpet.
To join Berzerk’s mailing list, visit their website www.berzerkproductions.com or like their
Facebook/berzerkproductions page for hints and tips for young actors and to find out about auditions and other opportunities