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Meet the team: Claire Walkinshaw

Thu 5 Jul 2018

Say hello to Claire Walkinshaw, our awesome Youth Theatre Coordinator. She tells us all about her love of acting, directing and…dogs!

Claire with her beloved dog, Hugo

What gets me out of bed in the morning?

Most mornings I get a wake up call from my dog. He jumps on my bed and demands I make a fuss of him, so I don’t have much choice but to get up!

Favourite character…

That’s a tough one but I’d have to say Lady Macbeth. In my first year at University of Essex I performed the Lady Macbeth sleepwalking monologue for my first assessment. I hadn’t had long to work on it so I didn’t know how the performance would go but it turned out to be a turning point for me as an actor. I recently worked on a show with the teacher who assessed me. He told me he still thinks about that monologue. It proved to me that risks pay off.

What’s better – directing or acting?

Nothing makes me happier than acting but, since graduating and working as the Youth Theatre Coordinator at Lakeside Theatre, I’ve realised I also love being a theatre maker. It’s great to see my ideas come to life and I love working with young people – they surprise me every day with their imagination and talent.

Youth Theatre is currently working on…

The younger group (aged 7-11) are doing a piece called ‘The World’s Worst Children’ which I’ve written the script for. It’s a short piece inspired by David Walliams book. It’s about four children that are very badly behaved and they’ve got to transform themselves in order to be allowed to stay in their town – it’s a lot of fun!

The older group (12-18) are doing a showcase; they’re working on a variety of scenes from different plays in groups. We’ve got a bit of Shakespeare, Ibsen, a play about the First World War and a devised piece. What more could you want?!

Claire in cafe

What I love most about working with young people…

It’s easy for adults to underestimate young people and not consider the impact they have on the future but the young people I work with are all intelligent, driven and creative. I’m always learning different things from them.

What I love most though is seeing the progression in each of them, they can often join the group being reserved and then once they’re settled, and working on a project, they’re beaming with confidence and not afraid to use their voice and share their opinions.

I also work with children that have autism and Asperger’s syndrome. One child last year became really stressed saying his lines on cue but this year he had a monologue and a singing solo – and got a standing ovation from the audience! His Mum told me that Youth Theatre is the highlight of his week. That sort of feedback just makes all the work I’m doing so rewarding.

I’m most proud of…
My first class degree in theatre studies from Essex. When I left school I never imagined I would get a degree – I’m not very academic so I never thought it would happen but I did it and I did it well. I was 23 when I came to university and it was the best three years of my life, I’ll always be proud of my time here.

I couldn’t live without…
Theatre…obviously! That and quality time with my family, friends (aided with an alcoholic beverage and chocolate) and my dog– is that a bit dramatic?

Fun fact?
I’m probably the biggest ‘Friends’ fan you’ll ever meet. I have the entire box set and watch it most nights to get me to sleep!

Hugo the dog