Miranda Harcourt: Actor’s Coach

August 2, 2019
The highly respected acting coach is coming to the Melbourne International Film Festival for a couple of essential workshops that all actors and directors should attend.

“All my work is hands on, and people will come away with tips and tricks which will fast track ways for directors to work with actors and actors to work with directors, and actors to work with each other. It’s a skills development workshop where actors and directors can advance their communication skills on set and in rehearsal. My workshops are essentially about connectivity between people, whether it’s actors and directors or actors and actors. The bedrock is increasing connectivity. And, on top of that, applying these immediately and fast.”

We’re speaking with Miranda from London, where she has come to support her daughter’s latest role in a motion picture. Her daughter is Thomasin McKenzie, who made such an impact in Leave No Trace recently, and now is one of the hottest actress around, completing work on Taika Waititi’s JoJo Rabbit, Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang, David Michod’s The King, Liz Garbus’ Lost Girls, and in London to shoot Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho.

“Our oldest son escaped by the skin of his teeth and is at university, studying international politics,” laughs Miranda Harcourt when we ask if her whole family are in the business.

Harcourt has done workshops like the ones she is about to do in Melbourne at the Toronto International Film Festival, in Berlin and most recently, she tells us, a lecture at Women and Film Television UK.

Between these lectures and workshops, Harcourt has worked as an acting coach on everything from Beautiful Creatures to Aquaman.

“I’m a great collector of random stuff from other disciplines,” she says about her approach. “I bring a lot of cultural references from Japan, the world of art history, especially from the worlds of quantum physics and psychology. I bring together a whole bunch of other disciplines and use those references to inform acting work. I speak sign language so I can use that in my work with actors. I spent 10 years working in the prison system.

“I trained as a drama therapist at the Central School of speech and drama here in London and, and I was head of acting at the National Drama School in New Zealand. All of those life experiences feed into my work. I’m really very interested in, and an expert in verbatim theater techniques… It’s a journalistic technique, it’s the poetry of real people’s spoken words. I’m really interested in how real people really talk and trying to find a way for actors to replicate how real people really talk and the way they speak the dialogue.”

But is that what audiences want? “I think it is increasingly what audiences are looking for; looking for a deep experience of the human condition. And audiences are becoming much more discerning and aware of authenticity in performance. There are so many other screen experiences, like computer games and virtual reality, there’s so many other created experiences, and I think that audiences are really interested in authenticity and supernaturalism in their performances they choose to watch on screen.”

Miranda Harcourt: Acting-Up – Directors Working with Actors and Miranda Harcourt: Acting-Up – Actors Working with Directors are on Wednesday August 14 and Thursday August 15 respectively.

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