Monkey Motivation: Charlotte Bate

To celebrate our alumni community as we gear up to our tenth anniversary, which falls in Autumn 2020, we have been speaking to some of our Monkey alumni and asking them to share their memories and experiences of their actor training journey, plus giving us an insight into some of the work they have been doing since graduating.

 

Here, Charlotte Bate, a graduate of Fourth Monkey’s first-ever Year of the Monkey cohort, shares with us her experiences with Fourth Monkey, as well as what she has been up to since she finished at the school…

 

What made you choose Fourth Monkey for your actor training? Had you completed any other training before joining the school and, if so, can you tell us a little bit about how the two compare?

So, as you said, I was part of the first ever year, and I think that year and Fourth Monkey as a whole looked quite different then to how it does now. I mean, the way it has grown is amazing, but to speak of my time there the major appeal was that it was essentially a rep company. Three shows in London and then three shows up in Edinburgh. I had just missed out on getting into drama school that year and when I heard about fourth monkey it just seemed like a great thing to do alongside trying again. I was interested because it was so practical and performance based. I knew I needed to build up my skills and confidence, and I think rep is a fantastic way to do that. You learn so much by doing and those kinds of opportunities were quite scarce.

Also, just practically, and so importantly, it appealed because they understood that most people really needed to hold down some kind of day job so rehearsals and classes were structured in such a way to accommodate that; which helped me out enormously.  

I had an amazing year, and through all I learned and gained from it I went on to train at The Guildhall school of Music and Drama that September.

Can you share a few personal highlights and memories that stand out from your time training at Fourth Monkey? Any practitioners who have influenced your creative choices or any classes that have stuck with you since you graduated, for example?

I think genuinely it was the people; lifelong friends were made through that experience. I am completely unsurprised that the school has grown the way it has because you could just tell that Steve was so capable of taking it there. He tells stories in a very unique and imaginative way, and the focus of the work is reflected in that. We took ‘4.48 Psychosis’ up to Edinburgh and there is a (long!) section in that play that is a stream of words ‘Flash, flicker, slash, burn…’ I will never forget the hilarity of all of us trying to learn it. Also just watching people blossom as the year went on was very special.

(Image: ‘I think we are alone’; photos Tristram Kenton)

Before you started your training at Fourth Monkey, what were you most excited to try or to learn more about? Did this shift or change as your training progressed, and have these interests been reflected in the choices you’ve made in your work since you graduated?

I think probably I was most excited to explore telling stories in a different way, and to gain the confidence to trust my instincts.  I had never really done any sort of ‘movement’ before so I was really unsure about using my body as a form of expression. I remember also realising the power of the ensemble in those moments. It just takes one person to be really brave and really generous and go for it to allow others to do the same and I endeavour to remember that in rehearsal rooms now. My interest and enjoyment of exploring things physically only grew really, and movement classes and all that goes with that became some of my favourite classes at drama school – which I never thought would be the case.

Career-wise, I suppose my path took me down a more ‘traditional theatre’ route for a while, but most recently before everything had to come to a halt, I was doing a play called ‘I Think We Are Alone’ with Frantic Assembly, so my interest in telling stories in a more physical way was really satisfied in that.

(Image: ‘I think we are alone’; photos Tristram Kenton)

Tell us a bit about what you’ve been working on since you left Fourth Monkey – what have your professional highlights been? Are there any interesting collaborators, projects or shows that you can tell us about?

I said I went onto spend three years at Guildhall, which were the most incredible and formative years I’ve had so far. I relished the intensity and also the luxury of three years to explore and fail and grow, both as a person and an actor. It wasn’t all roses obviously but on the whole, I adored my time at Guildhall, I’m so grateful for it, I certainly wouldn’t be the actor I am now without it- but I also believe that it began with Fourth Monkey. It was probably the first time I acknowledged that I thought I might be able to do this, so I’m incredibly grateful for that as well.

Professionally I’ve worked mostly in theatre and television. Theatre-wise I’ve been lucky to do a mix of classical work as well as new writing and have worked with some brilliant people and companies that I have learned so much from. My favourite job was a play called ‘Blackthorn’ by Charley Miles that we did at the West Yorkshire Playhouse (now Leeds Playhouse); it’s a two hander and it was just one of those jobs that was joy from start to finish and I’ll never forget it. Most recently I worked with Scott Graham and Kathy Burke which is an experience that will stay with me for a long time. Scott is truly inspirational, and as a woman to get to work with someone like Kathy was a real gift. She’s a phenomenal director as well as being boundlessly kind and hilarious, she is someone I really look up to and I feel incredibly lucky to have had that experience.

(Image: ‘Blackthorn’, photo; José Tevar)

As your creative career progresses, what are you hoping to work on or create in the future? For example, are there any collaborators you’d particularly like to work with, any theatre or arts genres you want to experiment with or try?

Well, at this quite scary time in the industry right now it feels quite strange to try to answer this, but when the industry begins to recover, I’m just excited to see what will come in. There are certain plays and parts that I’d love to do, and people I’d like to work with, but often the most exciting things are the things you would have never thought of. However, the industry has been badly hurt by the current situation so my biggest hopes for the moment are for buildings and companies to find ways to come through this, and I think theatre will be an exciting place when they do.

(Image: ‘I think we are alone; photo: Tristram Kenton )

What advice would you give to any prospective students preparing for their audition or gearing up to start their actor training in September? Likewise, do you have any advice for our students who will be graduating this summer?

What at question at the moment! Just to say to them to keep their chins up and hearts full – no easy feat right now. It must feel like a very scary time to either be auditioning, or graduating. With auditions moving online I’m in awe of everyone adapting so quickly. I think the same rules have to apply – even though its now via screen, connection is so important and just trust how interesting you are.

As for graduates, I imagine they are feeling a little robbed and frightened right now, understandably. A lot of the industry is halted – but there are still hands to reach out for. Check the spotlight one-to-ones, work on your self taping, read, watch, also relax and above all be kind to yourselves, its so important to be on your own team and know it will be alright in the end, I truly believe the industry is rooting for the new grads at this time.

(Image: Rehearsal photo ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Sheffield Crucible, playing Friar Laurence)

Finally, a topical question – how have you been staying creative in lockdown?

 I’ve been reading lots, watching lots, listening to lots but also, I’ve been trying to be alright with having days where its okay to just do nothing. I am someone that finds that VERY hard but I’m trying to take the pressure off myself. I think that’s also important.