We hear from Jas Singh, a city professional and independent author, about his experiences as a City Academy Student, appearances on stage with the Tuesday Theatre Company, and how City Academy courses have inspired his creative writing work.
I was born and raised in Birmingham and moved to London in 2002.
I am a lawyer in the city and I love living in London. There are so many things to be involved with here, particularly in terms of the arts: City Academy is a great example of that.
I remember I started acting at primary school – in the last two years, teachers started to pick me out to star in school plays. I never really understood why and just went along with it, but I loved it! I have no idea how I was just able to get up and do it. My teachers must have seen something in me and I continued to be involved in theatre and filmmaking in High School and University.
Doing something creative with my spare time really helps me relax
For a long time I thought I had left it all behind and I started to feel like something was missing. So I decided to re-engage with creative aspects of myself that had been dormant for some time. It took a while to rebuild my confidence, but I instantly recalled how much fun acting was. Doing something creative with my spare time really helps me unwind and relax. Sometimes people are surprised when I tell them I do acting. I think it’s quite different from other interests and so people are naturally curious.
Acting on stage definitely gives you an increase in confidence in other areas of life. The skills needed to present persuasively as an advocate can overlap greatly with something like acting. In both you need to be alive to the moment, speak clearly and with passion but also in a manner which best befits the argument/forum or role in question. In law you must also improvise at times, as you would on stage, and deal with the unexpected as it arises.
I’ve been to so many classes since I discovered City Academy in 2011 that I honestly can’t remember my first class for sure! But I think it was Ballroom Dancing. I had wanted to learn the basics of partner dancing for some time but hadn’t worked up the courage. The tutor, Derek Roofayel, helped put me at ease and enjoy dancing with people in the room. I took a number of dance classes before starting to focus more on acting instead.
I find that City Academy classes are very accessible as they are spread all across London and run at various times. As a result, I have met some really interesting, talented people from a wide variety of backgrounds and we often go out for a drink after class. I’ve made some great friends and have been privileged to meet some amazing teachers on my courses too (DeObia Oparei, Karina Fernandez and Lucy Bairstow to name but a few).
I recently starred in a studio production with the City Academy Tuesday Theatre Company in front of an audience of 50. My character’s scene involved him wandering around on stage wearing a fluffy pink dressing gown while trying to appease his upset mistress. There was a knock at the door and my character was gripped by fear that his wife had caught them. I had to panic and run around getting dressed and I nearly fell off stage as I kicked my jeans back on! It was challenging but a lot of fun to be part of.
City Academy classes have helped inspire me as an independent author
My City Academy classes have certainly helped inspire me in my writing work. I am an independent author and am currently working on a fantasy novel. While I work through that long and challenging creative process, I find inspiration in many other creative forums. For example, my acting classes with City Academy give me insights into portraying believable characters in person. This in turn helps create believable characters on the page. I think all arts are interconnected. So many of my influences are cinematic and musical as well as literary. And why not? We are all trying to achieve the same objective: to express something true and meaningful in as entertaining and engaging a way as possible.
My first novel, ‘The Paper Thin Sky’, is available online in paperback or as a 99p e-edition via Amazon/Kindle (www.tinyurl.com/k6odga7) and Apple/iBooks (www.tinyurl.com/ns8qgvs). It’s a psychological drama about a teacher who looks forward to the coming school year but instead ends up having to deal with loss, forbidden pleasures and an invite to insanity.
Please do check out my work and my webpages – all support is much appreciated – and maybe I’ll see you at a City Academy class sometime soon!
To hear more from Jas, follow him on Twitter and Facebook for his thoughts and reviews on arts and culture.
Find out more about our Acting classes and Theatre Companies here.