In conversation with Ella Cumber
We are immensely proud of the young people we send out into the world at the end of the Sixth Form and Ella Cumber (2012) is no exception. Here she gives us a taste of what she has been doing and her story is full of highs, lows, interest, adventure, developing new skills and at least one standing ovation…
A lot has happened since I left Warminster. I successfully completed the Acting Foundation course at RADA in 2013 and got a job touring the country with an educational show for primary schools. I’ve had a variety of acting jobs including commercials and fringe theatre and have worked with an array of people in performing arts – ranging from experimental music students to a two-time Oscar-winning actor. I’ll kill the suspense and just say that it was Christoph Waltz!
This last year I found work with The Globe Theatre Company, performing in their touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was Cobweb, one of the fairies – not a big role, but a role nonetheless and one that I took great pride in playing. For four months we travelled through Asia and Russia – Shanghai, Guangzhou, Taipei, Ekaterinburg, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing. In total, we took 10 planes, 23 buses and two trains – over a week of travelling in all. We travelled with 45 suitcases and four flight-cases containing props, costumes and sets as well as two taiko drums, a waterphone and a zither; all this in addition to our own luggage. On top of that we had a show to do and, almost every week, a new venue.
We performed in some beautiful and prestigious places: the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St Petersburg where Chekov premiered The Seagull in 1896; the stage that Lenin lectured on in Pskov and the Guangzhou Opera house – a building designed to make you believe that you’re under a starry night sky. It’s easy to forget how homesick or jet-lagged you are when the audience gives you a standing ovation. I do not mean to sound boastful but, if it helps, imagine that I’m wildly grinning as I write this.
To be more serious, it’s a very humbling experience to be able to do what you love and to see the world while doing it. It hasn’t necessarily been a case of walking out of drama school, landing an agent and living happily ever after as a young creative in London. It isn’t always easy and sometimes you question what you’re doing. However, it’s absolutely possible to get to where you want to be without having to follow the conventions or expectations of others.
I will, of course, always remember what helped to get me here in the first place: the support and encouragement of my teachers at Warminster School who taught me to work hard for what I wanted to achieve.
I would be here all day if I were to list everything that I fondly recall about being a boarder at Warminster; my experiences there have influenced me as an individual and as a performer. When asked to summarise what I’ve been doing since leaving school, I can only say that I’ve been doing what I’ve always been doing – learning, exploring and pursuing anything I find to be interesting.