Actor Patrick Flannery on the ins and outs of training in Ireland, and why he chose Bow Street
Coming from America to study in Ireland, Spotlight asked Patrick Flannery, graduate from Bow Street, Dublin, to contribute his POV on his training experience. With plenty of great insight on offer in this series, read the rest of our advice about drama school.
Bow Street understood the fact that the aim of an actor is to work. We were told on the first day of class that we would learn more in one day on set than a month of sitting in a classroom. I have never heard of any other full-time training program where its students are not only allowed, but encouraged to find work as an actor while classes are in session.
Why did you want to be an actor?
I can’t give any highbrow or deeply spiritual answer as to why I decided to become an actor. I had acted from a young age, and loved the electricity that I found on stage. That feeling was unbeatable. After a university education where I studied everything other than acting, I found myself armed with the fact that there was still nothing else I found mildly interesting. Acting was all I wanted to do.
What made you decide to study at Bow Street?
Shortly after college, and making the decision to pursue acting, I went on a family vacation to Ireland and it stole my heart. The landscape and the spirit of the people affected me deeply, and I felt pulled towards it. I trusted that feeling, perhaps ignorantly, and it is one of the best decisions I ever made.
I knew an actor in Ireland, and he recommended looking into Bow Street, which was a full-time screen-training program in Dublin. I began to do research of my own and saw that its alumni were working. Moreover, these alumni were recent graduates, rather than ancient figureheads. I didn’t want to train for the rest of my life, I wanted to work, and once again, perhaps ignorantly, I had a feeling that Bow Street would facilitate that.
What made you pick that programme over others?
Truth be told, I had absolutely no idea of what I was getting myself into; as much as I could envision it, I had no idea what my life in Ireland as an American actor would be like. I didn’t really know the kind of training I would receive at Bow Street. I was similarly curious and perhaps hesitant about the fact that it’s training focused particularly on screen, and not stage. Long story short, I had no idea what was going to happen.
What were the benefits of the way you trained? Did you enjoy it/find it worthwhile?
It was better than I could have imagined. The success of Bow Street is that the tutors there encouraged us to look at ourselves. The concept of ‘right’ acting and ‘wrong’ acting was smashed. It was a safe space to find our own process, and experimentation was encouraged. The tutors recognised us as a group of individuals, and the way to accessing our truest selves would inevitably differ between us. I think the most valuable asset an actor (and a human) can have is the belief that our voice is worth being heard, and we are worth being seen; that was Bow Street’s creed.
How has the training helped you (if at all!) since graduating?
Bow Street understood the fact that the aim of an actor is to work. We were told on the first day of class that we would learn more in one day on set than a month of sitting in a classroom. I have never heard of any other full-time training program where its students are not only allowed, but encouraged to find work as an actor while classes are in session. Throughout the year, casting directors, film and television directors, and other industry professionals were brought in. They were not there to lecture us, but to see us work. Connections within the industry were made, and I have watched those connections pay off amongst my classmates and myself since our time at Bow Street ended.
Any final advice for those debating whether or not to do formal training?
I do not think that training is an essential part of an actor’s career, however, my time at Bow Street certainly had a profound impact on my own. I have been fortunate enough to work on stage and on screen since I graduated, and can trace my jobs back to what I learned and the people I met while attending Bow Street, and would recommend it to anyone.
Patrick Flannery is an American actor based in Dublin Ireland. He has worked on stage and screen since graduating from Bow Street, most recently appearing on screen in BBC’s Little Women and on stage in Play On Words at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He is represented by the Nolan Muldoon Agency in Dublin.