Tag Archives: East 15 Acting School


Matthew Jameson

Deputy Director at The Space

Matthew Jameson

Matthew Jameson

Deputy Director at The Space

Interviewed – April 2020


Hi, please tell us a bit about yourself. What attracted you to the theatre, and what keeps you coming back?

It’s such a cliché, but I was a really shy kid brought out my shell by supportive teachers, drama at school and then amateur dramatic groups. I was dead set on being just a professional actor, then ended up writing short bits and bobs for drama classes. I wrote my first full length play at 19, fell into directing my own shorts, then got a job in theatre management/production, and gradually learned to balance a mixture of all four. I call myself a jack of all trades, but theatre-maker sounds more official.

Theatre has always been the most accessible storytelling medium to me. With film and video there’s so much equipment, training, pre and post production etc. needed to tell your story properly—you don’t have that with theatre, it’s a great leveller creatively. I love the immediacy and intimacy of a live audience, the adrenaline of a buzzing house and the irreplaceable nature of nightly performances. It’s sharing a moment with a room that may never be repeated or replicated. Now more than ever, it’s the communality of the theatrical experience that I miss.

You trained at the East 15 Acting School. What was special or unique about your training there? Any teachers who were particularly inspirational?

I applied for the Acting BA but was auditioned by the head of the World Performance BA and offered a place, which I jumped at. Best decision I could have made! It was a fusion course, so we had traditional western training, as well as masterclasses in International theatre styles (Beijing Opera, Balinese Temple Dance, Shadow Puppetry for example) and modules in other disciplines like Political Theatre, Script-Writing and Stand-up. Having so many different influences helped broaden my skill set and set me up as a theatre-maker. It also taught me some fun party tricks.

We made a lot of devised work and there was independent study time for our own practice. There was also a focus on the academic study of theatre, which has really helped to inform my craft and contextual skills. East 15 has a great track record for producing well-rounded, self-starting theatre-makers and companies. I think that’s where the future of the industry is. For teachers, there were many greats, but I have to give a shout out to Dr. MJ ‘Jiggs’ Coldiron, who gives constant encouragement, besides being the smartest person I’ve met. I’m happy to say that she’s still a frequent collaborator.

You founded a company called The Heretical Historians in 2014. It’s an intriguing name for a company. Please tell us how you chose the name, and how it reflects the work you’ve created for it. Who else is involved?

I wrote my first script based on a true story for Edinburgh 2014 with the Hour Lot Theatre. Dear Mister Kaiser is the true story of Captain Robert Campbell, a British P.O.W. in the First World War. He wrote a letter to Kaiser Wilhelm II asking for compassionate leave to visit his dying mother. He was granted leave on the sole condition that he promised to return after two weeks. It was such a joy to research the historical context of the show and to make all the pieces and characters fit together realistically. From that point, I knew that I wanted to tell true stories above all else. It seems redundant to try and create a new fiction when there are so many great untold stories out there.

The mission of the Heretical Historians is to tell ridiculous, untold, TRUE stories from history. This mission hasn’t changed and our style has stayed pretty similar too. Because of my devotion to Brecht, we were always going to be an Epic Theatre company. The word ‘Heretical’ came from our friend Niall, the smartest person in the room at the meeting where we got started, and it’s been a great fit. It’s a mature enough word to distinguish us from the silliness of Horrible Histories (which I love, by the way) and lets audiences know that we’re going to be challenging the expectations and conventions of history. We also like a nice bit of alliteration.

We have a pool of recurring actors, techs, designers and producers, but the core of the Historians team are co-director/company ‘do-er’ Lloyd McDonagh, and I. Lloyd and I are best mates from East 15. He joined us for our first show at Edinburgh 2015 (The Greatest Stories Never Told), and since then we’ve developed a symbiotic directing relationship. I’ll focus on text, sound and tech stuff, while Lloyd does our set, visuals and blocking. I tend to restrict myself to cameos on stage these days, but Lloyd is too great a character actor to lose, so we give him a good weighty part together with all his other roles.

What’s your process in creating work for The Heretical Historians? Do you create the script as an ensemble, or is there one person in charge of creating the script?

Before each project begins, Lloyd and I will sit down and chat about all the stories, ideas or fragments that we are considering. We’ll ask ourselves “are they relevant, is there enough material, can we do it?” When we pick one, I’ll dive into research mode for a few months and write a first draft for a reading and a workshop. By the time we’ve cast the show, I’m another few drafts in and we’ll work it in the room as an ensemble. It’s important for us to work with a team that is honest and willing to have conversations about making everything right. We do a lot of text work with the actors before we fully block a piece and we always save our bigger set pieces/sequences to be devised as an ensemble. We’re usually tinkering with the show until the run is over. We encourage ad-libbing (within reason), so we never have a show that is ‘set’—it’s always organic and changing, which helps keep it fresh and exciting.

Describe one or two productions for The Heretical Historians. Do you have any future projects in the works?

We do a lot of work with genre parody, which makes the worlds of the show immediately accessible to audiences. It gives the stories a focus, a style and a set of tropes to play with, plus it saves us having to fork out for accurate period costumes. As an example, in The Trial of Le Singe (2017), we told the true story of The Hartlepool Monkey. In the Napoleonic Wars, a shipwrecked monkey washed ashore in North-East England, was mistaken for a Frenchman, put on trial of espionage, found guilty and hung. Because of the recurring themes of nationalism, class warfare and mob justice, we set it as a ‘Young Ones’ style punk farce, which gave us license for a lot of anarchic humour and chaos. To balance out all the low humour, and to reinforce the national identity theme, the monkey (Le Singe) delivered his own defence in faux Shakespearian iambic pentameter, which naturally fell on deaf ears.

In We Own Everything (2018), we really hit our Epic Theatre stride. It was a financial thriller based on the rise of the Rothschild banking dynasty and the discrimination they faced as Jews in Regency England. It was also partly a 1920s ‘coming to America’ story with the second half channelling 80s Wall Street. We had a cast of 9, including Napoleon and a scaled down battle of Waterloo; a stock market crash; Mad King George III and the Prince Regent; pigeons ziplining over the audience; and we gave out fizz to the audience on entry. Holy sh*t we went to town on that one! It went up two weeks before The Lehman Trilogy began at The National, so our legacy was a bit swamped by the competition.

We’re currently working on the true story of history’s worst actor, Robert ‘Romeo’ Coates, and the catastrophic production of Romeo and Juliet that he put on in the West End. An aristocratic amateur, he starred as Romeo (in his 40s!), directed, produced and re-wrote the script creating a perfect disaster. But it sold out nightly and went on to tour the country. We’re giving it the Tommy Wiseau/Disaster Artist treatment. It’s an underdog story and a lot of fun. But it also says a lot about privilege and the abuse of status within the arts, as well as theatre’s capacity to unite the nation (albeit for the wrong reasons). We are due to perform it in June 2020, although that seems increasingly unlikely. Watch this space.

You’ve brought work by The Heretical Historians to The Space, in London’s Isle of Dogs. What makes The Space such a great venue for companies like yours?

The hardest thing for a new company is getting your foot in the door without having stacks of cash to spend on hiring a venue. For a venue to offer you a split on box office and help share your risk was unimaginable when we started. The fact The Space still programmes like this is testament to the work they support. We swiftly became part of the furniture at the Space with all the marketing and production support we received, as well as being welcomed into the fold by everyone. As the Historians, we loved the performance space because it has so much character. It’s such an epic, unique building, with plenty of entrances, exits and levels that we can play with, to make immersive 360° productions. It’s a world away from the black boxes that struggle to get two actors on stage at once.

The Space is the real deal in terms of having an ethos of giving, supporting and nurturing their artists and the local community. Everyone they attract has a generous, passionate and ambitious vision. I was very grateful for the support that they gave me, so I started volunteering for them. When you’ve worked at The Space once, you never really leave, you just fall into orbit.

You’re currently Deputy Director at The Space. Tell us about your role there. What did a typical working day look like before all the theatres had to shut down?

The Space is a team of three, with a huge amount of support from volunteers and interns. With such a small staff, my job has quite a broad remit and there’s a lot of different strands required to run the venue, so there’s a lot of variety! The main constant is drinking lots of coffee.

I live fairly nearby so I’m usually the first one in. I’ll start off by opening up the building, by checking emails/voicemails and sorting our social media for the day. Depending what’s happening that day, I may have to reset from the previous night’s show, set up for rehearsals/auditions or assist a get-in. There’s usually programming work or fundraising applications to crack on with, and I have meetings with all incoming companies to help with their marketing. If we’re working on an in-house production, I may have to source props/costume or make/decorate the set. If we have new volunteers or interns, I’ll show them the ropes and induct them, and if we’re quiet, I’ll try and do some DIY around the venue or do some rearranging and Marie Kondo-ing of our offices. Because I arrive early, I don’t usually work box office in the evening, but I’ll always do a shift to make sure I see each show we have at least once. I also get invited to see shows and companies at other theatres, which is a nice cap to a day at the office.

Now that we’re all working from home, describe your working day at the moment. Do you stay in regular touch with your colleagues at The Space? What’s your favourite way of doing that?

Sadly, as I’ve been furloughed, I’m doing a lot less for The Space than I’d like to. I’m still contributing artistically, sitting on committees, and helping with script reading/development, but as part of the conditions of furlough, I’m not allowed to carry out my usual day to day duties. I’ve been told to use this time for ‘personal development’, so I’m taking online courses, reading a lot, and writing passion projects out of my system. I’m trying to act as an ambassador for anyone who wants to know more about The Space and what we do. I am, of course, extremely lucky to be in this position, so I’m offering my skills as a script reader/editor and producer gratis for anyone who is looking for feedback or advice until the lockdown is lifted. Gimme a shout if you need it!

We still speak a lot as friends at The Space. We’ll have a weekly Zoom catch up and there’s been some cracking memes on the group Whatsapp. We all show up to support any digital events The Space runs as well. I’m really glad to be part of such a supportive team.

Are you working on new projects for The Space? Care to share?

Now that we have dealt with the immediate issues of closing, such as re-programming shows, contacting bookers etc. we’ve been focusing on making sure that we are still staying active and engaged throughout the lockdown. I’m really proud of the solutions we’ve found, such as taking our script development readings and community theatre group onto Zoom, for example. We’re also hosting a weekly theatre club, where we watch a streamed production then discuss it together. We are also hosting frequent playwright and director meet-ups.

Of course we’re also looking to the future. We’re excited to bring back Two Fest, our duologue festival, after a successful first year. There may also be a blockbuster Christmas production in the works that I can’t say too much about yet.

Other than theatre, what’s your favourite way to deal with boredom while staying at home? Any advice you can give the rest of us?

There’s been a LOT of comfort TV to shake off the existential dread. Wallace and Gromit; classic Simpsons; This Country; Tiger King (of course). I’m also trying to spruce up the gaff with some DIY/gardening; pick up the guitar again, and be a better father to my cats.

My top tips are:

— Try and find a way to create a routine/variety to your week, such as Tuesdays for deep cleaning; a special meal on Fridays; take Sundays off.
— If you’re at a loss for something to do, Twitter has got some amazing digital opportunities. I’d highly recommend looking into Drunk Plays and Coronavirus Theatre Club for a start.
— Have things to look forward to, such as make a list of 10 people, places or things you’re going to see when lockdown lifts. Alternatively, get drunk and order something online. It’ll take a while to arrive and give you a pleasant surprise!
— Don’t feel bad if you’re not as productive as you want to be. You haven’t been handed a holiday or a sabbatical—you’re living through Doomsday, so give yourself a break.
—There’s also no shame in only consuming during this period. There are so many great free courses, resources, apps, podcasts, programmes and theatre streams out there to learn from.
— If you really aren’t feeling good, please reach out! Friends, family, neighbours, professionals, whoever it may be. You don’t need to suffer alone. This crisis has shown just how much compassion and care we as a species have for each other.

And finally, Theatre post COVID-19. Will we go back to creating theatre the way we did before? If not, what do you think might change?

I don’t think we can go back from this, as an industry or as a society. The pandemic has highlighted how broken many of our systems and practices are. I especially fear for fringe theatre. So many venues and emerging/mid-career companies were hanging on by a thread already, and they are going to be decimated by the economic impact of the pandemic. It’s gutting. So if you are able, consider donating to your favourite local theatres, or booking for future performances or joining membership schemes. These are the easiest and most effective ways to help venues at the moment.

However, we are in for a new wave of punk across the arts. Not safety pins and mohawks, but of people creating and engaging with the arts outside traditional structures, and with raw, unfiltered voices (especially underrepresented voices!). I want to see people doing theatre in unconventional venues, with low/no budget or homemade production values; with fierce satire, and passion, passion, passion. I’m hoping that this energy could also be the creative and constructive outlet for the build-up of anger that has been stewing in many people for a while now, as well as being a catalyst for change.

Whatever happens, the desire to create and share stories is immutable. Theatre folk are incredibly resilient and they are used to tough times. They’re just going to be even tougher for a while. But we’ll find a way to carry on developing work, making magic and holding up a mirror where we need to. Theatre always finds a way.

Thank you for speaking to us and keep safe.



Interviewed by Dominica Plummer

Photography courtesy of Matthew Jameson



Find out more about Matthew, The Space and The Heretical Historians from the links here:
Instagram – @MJamesonOhYes @SpaceArtsCentre @TheHereticalHistorians
Twitter – @MJamesonOhYes @SpaceArtsCentre @HistoriansHere
Facebook – @MJamesonOhYes @TheSpace @HistoriansHere
Websites – www.space.org.uk www.hereticalhistorians.co.uk



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Maryhee Yoon 

Actor Writer Director


Maryhee Yoon

Actor Writer Director

Interviewed – April 2020


To kick us off – would you like briefly to introduce yourself?

My name is Maryhee Yoon – I am a Korean American actor and theatre maker based in London. I was born in Ohio, USA and moved to Seoul when I was ten where I spent the rest of my childhood. I came to London when I was eighteen to pursue my career in acting and theatre making, and am now living my best life here!

Acting, directing, writing – which is your preferred, if any, discipline?

This is definitely hard to say – I feel like I go through phases of which one I like best – and all of them definitely provide a good break from the other when I’m grinding especially hard. But I think it has to be between acting and writing. I’ve been writing and been dreaming of being a writer since I was about eight years old, but acting makes me feel alive and is what I did my training in – I think writing was something that was very private to only me at first, so I’m still learning the ropes of what being a “writer” entails!

What was your training/background?

I had the absolute pleasure of attending East 15 Acting School, 2016-2019, where I obtained my BA Acting International (hons) last year. My course was the perfect combination of traditional acting training and creative writing/devising training – I highly recommend it to all my overseas friends!

How long have you been pursuing your chosen career, and what made you choose this path?

I’ve been writing since I was about eight years old – it started with short stories about pirate ships and alien superheroes, but I must admit that I stopped writing when I hit about fourteen or so. I got back into writing when I was in drama school and I started learning about writing plays – I started falling back in love with the form, and so thankful that I did!

I started acting when I was ten or eleven years old, and the love for it kinda grew more intense every year. I committed to trying to make it into a career when I was about sixteen. And with the help of some very special mentors, I was able to attend drama school straight after graduating from high school in Seoul. I think I realised that if I didn’t at least try, I would always regret it. And I do think I would regret it if I had gone into another path this soon. I am so happy and thankful and humbled by being lucky enough to have had this experience and, right now, I wouldn’t want to trade it for the world!

What is the earliest piece of music/art/film/theatre (any medium in fact) that you remember having an impact on you and why was it so special?

I think I was like seven or eight – very young – and my mom took me to see my older sister’s high school production of “Fiddler on the Roof”. I don’t think I understood the story or what was going on, but I remember absolutely loving it – the dancing and singing, the costumes and just the magic of it. I think a part of the reason I loved it so much was because it was my big sis! I’ve always looked up to her, and from that point I remember wanting nothing more than to join drama club as soon as I was old enough.

What part of the process of the production of a work, from conception to performance do you enjoy the most?

I think my favourite part has to be rehearsals – when things finally start coming together after months of grinding. It’s the point where ideas come to reality in front of you and often where I think you learn the most about yourself as a creative, a collaborator, and a performer!

What drew you to the story of Iva Toguri, the protagonist of your award-winning musical “Tokyo Rose”? And, without getting too controversial, where would your sympathies lie? Do you think Toguri was really guilty of treason? Was her trial manipulated by the FBI?

It was actually my co-writer Cara Baldwin who originally found her story and presented it to me and the rest of our team – her story is incredible and the more we research, the more interesting it gets (which sometimes feels like a curse – what do we include? how do we best simplify a fifty year story into a single performance?) I’m especially drawn to her story because she’s Asian American and I’m Asian American – it’s heartbreaking, encouraging, and inspiring to learn about this part of history that has been lost – and to be able to be a part of retelling it! I don’t want to spoil the show – it’s up to the audience to decide whether what happened to her was just or not – our job is to just show the facts as objectively as possible. But when you look at the simple facts, I think it’s pretty simple… and America has made a lot of mistakes – some of which they’re still making today.

Is there something you are particularly proud of?

I did a sketch show in drama school and in front of 100+ people caught a tampon in mid-air with chopsticks on my first try…

While I am very proud of that… I think, of the things I’m most proud of, has been sticking to my ethics and principles in my work – even if that’s meant losing jobs. I feel like creative work without compassion and ethics is completely pointless and I never would want to compromise myself for a job… Obviously that’s a lot easier said than done and I’m sure I’ve made mistakes and will continue making mistakes – but I’m proud of my commitment to always trying my best and always trying to better myself and learning from my mistakes.

Were you in the middle of a project when the lockdown was put in place?

I had a few auditions that I never heard back from, but we all know that may not have been because of the lockdown… ha-ha! Other than that, we’ve been in our next stage of development for Tokyo Rose. Lucky enough though, we’re still very much in the writing phase and have been able to continue our work remotely with the godsend Zoom! We’re hoping that it won’t affect anything once we do need to be in the room with actors.

How are you coping with this new (temporary) way of life?

I’m trying really hard to focus on compassion towards myself and others. I think there has been a lot of pressure put on artists especially to continue creating and to be as productive as possible – but we’re all experiencing a shared trauma and I think it’s absolutely valid to take time for ourselves, focus on our hearts and healing, and if we don’t become the next Shakespeare during this time, I think that’s absolutely fine. I’ve seen this whole thing as a call to pause, reflect on why we do our art, and reevaluate what we want to do in life. I promised to not put any unnecessary pressure on myself, and it’s actually resulted in me falling back in love with a lot of it – doing it because I want to do it, not because I feel like I need to prove something.

Are you able to filter out the fake news from the real – and how much attention to you pay to the overload of information on social media?

In general, I try to stick to news sources that I trust – but there came a point where I stopped paying attention to a lot of it. I’m stuck at home either way, and I find a lot of it is not useful stuff to know – a lot of it seems to be primarily fearmongering. Obviously, I recognise my immense privilege in this situation and my heart absolutely goes out to those not as lucky as me – whether it be bad domestic situations, scary financial situations, being high-risk, etc. If anything, it’s just been a reinforcement of my belief that many of the systems we live in are insanely backwards and unsustainable. I’m getting my fight gear on for when we need to come together and demand justice! I think one of the best things I’ve seen that has really stuck with me is; “Stop thinking about this as the apocalypse. See it as the revolution”

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when the lockdown is over?

Get a frothy, steamy latte and then join the revolution! I used to be quite active politically and I’m sorry to say that I’ve lost a lot of that with my own life getting in the way. But this has been a wakeup call to just how much needs to change in our system, and it’s important to me to be on the right side of history and to be a part of the solution. I don’t think this madness will end with the lockdown, and I don’t think it should. If we don’t change things, all of this will happen again, and we will continue to lose so many more lives than we should!!

When directing, writing or acting – what do you prefer – Musicals? Comedies? Dramas? (And as an audience – which, if any, do you prefer?)

Oh, this is a hard one! Ironically, I’m not actually that into musicals – I can’t really sing or dance and I don’t really understand music that much! Obviously, I love and adore working on Tokyo Rose, but it’s a completely new medium to me and I would not be able to do it without our amazing team with me. I’ve historically been very into comedy writing, acting and directing, but I’m exploring drama more now and how to make something serious tasteful and impactful. I love it all, honestly.

What would you like the future to hold in store for you?

This might sound silly, but I don’t really mind too much as long as I’m happy and my life is centred on love. Right now, that very much correlates with my love for acting and creating, and manifests in me throwing myself into my work – right now it’s making me super happy and ‘right now’ I want the future to hold exciting projects and “success”. But I’m trying to internalise that happiness and success don’t always go hand in hand, and my first priority is to live a full life, whatever that entails. I don’t want to limit myself, and I think there’s a lot of pressure in this industry that if you change careers it makes you a failure or a cautionary tale, but I think that’s a toxic attitude. There’s no point in having great success if you’re not happy.

Have you any tips for others on how best to get through the lockdown?

Be kind and compassionate! That’s my biggest tip – just be compassionate to yourself and to others! We are collectively experiencing something traumatic, some more so than others, and I do believe that the only way we’ll get through to the other side is if we lead with compassion for others and for ourselves.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Stay safe and keep well.


Interviewed by Jonathan Evans

Main photo (from A Great Big Sigh) by Lidia Crisafulli

Headshot by Leon Foggitt





Find out more about Maryhee here:
Instagram – @mhy.yhm
Twitter – @maryheeyoon
Spotlight – Maryhee Yoon
Website – www.maryheeyoon.com



Click here to read our review of Tokyo Rose