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  • Writer's pictureAugust Sorenson

The Academy Abroad: A Conversation with Fraser Brooks (’20)

Academy Pages staff writer August Sorenson recently sat down with fellow 2020 graduate Fraser Brooks. After his completion of the program in Los Angeles, Fraser moved to London to continue his studies, becoming a refined classical actor. Now, he’s hard at work bringing Shakespeare to regional schools in Australia that have minimal access to the arts.

It was a pleasure to chat with my inspiring, and endlessly gracious, friend.

Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

The Pages: You made a big move from Sydney to LA. Tell me about this decision.

Fraser: The decision was made almost entirely to study at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where I was going to enroll at the time. Between the two campuses, I wanted to go to the LA campus, because it was closer to Sydney. I wanted to be able to go back to Sydney if I needed to. Also, LA is a similar climate to Sydney...I was like, New York is a long way away, and it’s cold!

The Pages: That’s fair enough. When we first met, we both talked about what the film scene had to do with our decision…does that still hold up for you?

Fraser: The belief at the time was that I’d have to be there in order to work…which isn’t entirely true for me because now I’m working in Australia. The belief was that LA is where it’s at, and all the film and TV you want is there…it’s the hub. It all kind of emanates from LA, even the New York scene or the Australian film industry kind of flows out of Hollywood, at least to a degree.

The Pages: Then post-graduation you decided to move to London to study Shakespeare. How was that choice influenced by your time at The Academy?

Fraser: One of the catalysts was Tim Landfield. I did Shakespeare with him…I was in Much Ado About Nothing, which he directed. The Shakespeare intensive with him was incredible, too. That was super informative, enlightening, you know? I loved his very clear sense of direction. And meeting Charles Pasternak, a Shakespeare fiend in the US. Alexandra Wright brought him to chat with us one day…he was absolutely instrumental, and inspiring.

I basically wound up catching the Shakespeare bug in LA. When we were in our second year, I was like looking at those one-year post-grad courses that tend to be offered in the UK. I ended up at Central...that training was awesome because it was so focused on Shakespeare, on classical acting. And it culminated in a six-week rehearsal and production of Pericles. Those six weeks were incredible.

The Pages: And why was Pericles so instrumental for you?

Fraser: The director, Simon Scardifield. He was an outside director, and he’s worked with all these different theatre companies…even with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, which still exists today. They do it how we think it was done back in Elizabethan, and Jacobean times, and he just absolutely revolutionized and crystallized my thinking around Shakespeare and how it should be acted.

The Pages: And what is it that keeps you doing this work?

Fraser: Oh my gosh, that is such a cruel question. I’m constantly being inspired. I’m so inspired by so many different things…also I’m employed right now, so I’m kind of forced to be [Laughs].

I’ve met some amazing people lately, I met Greg Doran the other day, and he was the artistic director of the RSC. I met Ben Crystal. I’ve met John Bell who formed the company I’m with. I get to speak with these remarkable people. That’s kind of keeping me going, that exposure to the work. I’m in and amongst it at the moment. That’s keeping me inspired. I also try to read a lot, listen to good music, and try to stay drip-fed inspiration from various things and people.

The Pages: Tell me more about what it is that you’re currently involved in and where people can find it.

Fraser: Bell Shakespeare, based in Sydney. I’m currently on tour and going to schools…it’s abridged Shakespeare to be educational for students. Today, we had three performances of Romeo and Juliet.

Bell Shakespeare is all over the internet and social media. They’re always working to get the word out.

The Pages: Thanks for chatting…it’s been ages. Let’s do it again soon.

Fraser: Cheers, August. Always good to chat with you.


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