BYMT meets Stephen Jameson

Stephen Jameson
Friday, October 1, 2021

British Youth Music Theatre (BYMT) interviews Stephen Jameson, principal and artistic director of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, about pursuing a career in the performing arts

 BYMT's The Night The War Ended, 2021
BYMT's The Night The War Ended, 2021

Trudi Knight

BYMT is the UK's leading musical theatre organisation for young people. It has strong connections with Mountview and allows young performers to get a real taster of what it's like to star in a full-scale show.Every year, hundreds of young people storm Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in order to pursue their dream career in performing arts. Many of them have already experienced the excitement of being on stage through youth arts organisations like British Youth Music Theatre (BYMT).

BYMT has its office based at Mountview and frequently employs top theatre professionals who work at Mountview to run projects. BYMT alumni who are heading to Mountview or any other drama school already know what a challenging path they have chosen, but are willing to overcome all obstacles, as the final goal is well worth all efforts.

We interviewed Stephen Jameson, outgoing Principal and Artistic Director of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, about the opportunities for young people in the creative industry:

What are the main challenges for young people who want to pursue a career in the arts?

Access and inspiration. As the arts are increasingly sidelined in favour of STEM subjects at all educational levels, and the emphasis is firmly placed on grades and testing, the inspiration of freeform play and creativity becomes a secondary thought, except for those whose family situation engages with the importance of art and culture to create a balanced diet.

All young people should have the opportunity to experiment and play creatively, whether it be through music, dance, acting, paint or playing an instrument – not with an objective to engage with it as a career, as something that needs to be examined or that there is a correct level of attainment for, but just purely to be lost within a collective artistic endeavour for the fun of it.

This is how passion is bred and genius discovered, because both of these qualities are not the exclusive domain of an educational or cultural elite but innate within all children, indeed all human beings.

What are the best strategies to overcome these difficulties?

Create more opportunities, share the love and make the arts free for all. This way we will uncover the next generation of creative artists and foster a far finer community sensibility for society to live in.

How are youth theatre organisations like BYMT beneficial for young performers?

BYMT and companies like them create the opportunity for self-expression, playfulness and community while fostering a sense of ownership and collective and personal achievement. Basically, they are a safe place to get lost in your imagination and have fun with friends.

We can't agree more: BYMT sees its purpose as creating more opportunities for young people to showcase their talent and hone their skills, developing the new generation of stars in the creative industries. Our online auditions start in October and are open for all young people aged 11–21 and based in any corner of the UK and overseas.

Successful applicants will join one of BYMT's projects next year to train with West End professionals, star in a full-scale new musical and get a Grade 8 qualification from Trinity College London. That's the best way for a young person to get into the very heart of a creative process, experience what it's like to perform on a professional stage, and develop aspirations for their future.

We also asked Jameson what his best advice is for students who dream about a career on stage. He said:

My best advice would be not to dream dreams based on notions of becoming famous or bathing in applause, but just do as much of what you love whenever you have the opportunity – be in the moment and have fun. There is plenty of time for reflecting on whether it was good for your career or the possibility of a career afterwards. Just do it for the love, for the passion and for the friendship and whatever will be will be.

If you know anyone aged 11–21 who would like to pursue a career in performing arts, their journey starts here:

Stephen Jameson

Stephen originally trained as an actor at LAMDA, working at the Old Vic, Almeida Theatre and Theatre Royal Stratford East and travelling the world with the English Shakespeare Company. A s a director Stephen has created work for the Young Vic, Globe International Shakespeare Festival in Neuss, the Queille Festival in Toulouse, the National Theatre in Seoul and Actor studio, Den Haag. He was Associate Director at LAMDA, has taught and directed Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and has written and adapted work for both radio and theatre. He has been awarded the Prix Francois Florent by Cours Florent in Paris. In 2020 Stephen, along with his co-CEO Sarah Preece, was awarded a Special Recognition Olivier Awards for moving Mountview to Peckham and opening access to training.