Vicky Meets…Monty Hawkins, drama student

Monty and Laura Pic by Rachel Poulton
Monty and Laura Pic by Rachel Poulton

For a child of thirteen to take their Grade 8 London Academy of Music & Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) Acting exam is highly unusual. Candidates are usually sixteen plus. For a child of Monty’s age to score 100% is even more astounding – much older students struggle to gain full marks and the much-coveted ‘Distinction’ result.

“I think I am still in shock!” laughed Monty’s teacher, Laura Green of Shine Time: Musical Theatre & Acting at the Art of Dance & Fitness School in Bognor Regis. “I am so, so proud of him. He works so hard and takes on board everything you ask of him.”

“When Laura told me that I had got a Distinction with 100% I was completely shocked. I just couldn’t believe it,” admitted a beaming Monty, who has been taking classes since he was seven. “I thought I had done OK, but I was concentrating so hard in the exam that I couldn’t really tell.

“I had to prepare and perform a Shakespeare speech from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a piece from Anton Chekov’s The Seagull and also a modern piece called Blackout. Then I had to answer questions on theory, character, staging and technique.”

Pointing out that to get full marks Monty must have demonstrated dedication, absolute understanding of all three texts, technical expertise and also given faultless performances, Laura said that while there is no official data to confirm it, a quick straw poll of other teachers and students suggests that his achievement is significant.

“I’m so proud of all my students, all of whom got ‘Distinctions’ and high marks in their recent exams, but Monty really gets it. He doesn’t just perform; he IS,” she said, adding that the examination process can be a daunting experience.

Confirming that he is also doing well on the Festival circuit, regularly winning prizes for his performances, Laura’s pride is clearly justified.

So what does Monty get out of studying for acting exams – apart from enjoying the process?

“Doing drama has helped me so much. It has given me confidence and helped me with public speaking,” he told me, agreeing that being able to perform confidently and to discuss his preparation and approach articulately are invaluable life skills.

“It will help immeasurably in things like job interviews, and it has also helped me massively with English, especially Shakespeare which we are doing for GCSE,” said Monty who attends Felpham Community College. “And passing grades 6,7 & 8 is the equivalent of an A Star at A Level, too.”

Keen to achieve his GCSE’s and then go to drama school; unbeknown to Monty Laura has got money – and more – on his success.

“I have made a bet with his Grandad that Monty will be my first student to get into RADA. I’ve got a pound and a pepperoni pizza riding on it, so he better had” she laughed.

Watching this talented young man in action I’d say she’s backed a dead cert.

More information: www.shinetimeworkshops.com

Photo credit: Rachel Poulton