Miriam Miller, winner of the 2016 Sydney Eisteddfod Actor's Championship (12 - 14 Years) tells us about her passion for performing and what is what like to win such a competitive event.
When and Why did you start taking Speech and Drama lessons?
I first started lessons at the age of 6, because my older sister loved drama and because my mum thought it was an important skill to learn to present yourself well. Once I started, I realised how much I loved performing for an audience and becoming another character in a different world.
Tell us about the pieces you chose to perform in this years Sydney Eisteddfod.
I chose to perform a serious prose 'One More River' and a fun monologue called 'In a Gypsy Tearoom' to show range and be able to enjoy doing a variety of pieces. 'One More River' by Lynn Reid Banks, was my choice for the Championship because as soon as I read it, I really connected with the piece. It is a really inspiring story about people from different backgrounds and understanding how we do not need to follow the beliefs of people around us, especially when these ideas lead to war.
I love choosing things that test me, so I also performed 'Funeral Blues' by WH Auden for the poetry section, which required understanding the pain of death for those left behind. I was very fortunate that I also won this section.
What did you do to prepare for your performance?
Luckily, I find it very easy to learn the pieces, especially if they mean something to me. A lot of the emotion comes to me once I understand the feelings of the people in the piece. I try to believe I am the character and see it from their point of view. Sometimes this means reading the book, or even understanding a bit about the period of time, then it is simply a matter of practicing until it feels right.
What would you say to someone that was thinking about entering the Sydney Eisteddfod? What advice do you have to offer?
Make sure you enjoy it! There is no point in doing it for the prize. You are far better off enjoying what you do and then you will be good at it.
What was the most memorable aspect of performing in the Sydney Eisteddfod?
I LOVE being on stage and I was fortunate enough to compete against a lot of other kids who are amazing actors and actresses. I have loved it since the first time I ever performed at 7 years old and we stayed behind and watched all the 18 year olds doing the Actors’ Championship and I thought they were amazing.
I always appreciate the feedback from the adjudicators, which helps me to improve. This year I was lucky enough to meet Mrs Audrey Bradshaw, who provided my prize for the Sydney Eisteddfod Actor's Championship (12-14 years) and to hear her story and why she supports Sydney Eisteddfod. Unfortunately Mrs Bradshaw lost her parents at 15 and had to do nursing as a career, although she had always loved drama. She has continued to support drama and acting all her life. She is a true inspiration and I want to thank her.
What have you learnt about yourself through performing in the Sydney Eisteddfod?
I have learnt how much variety there is in the characters I can choose to be. In the beginning I did a certain genre of pieces and now I can stretch myself more.
What was it like to win the Sydney Eisteddfod Actor’s Championship (12-14yrs) ?
I couldn’t stop smiling. I had spent a lot of time practicing and I thought it was a very tough competition. I thought some of the other kids were amazing.
Which actors inspire you most, and why?
I love Maggie Smith because she can act the full spectrum of emotions and even include humour in very serious pieces. I love making people laugh and I think she shows you can make people feel sad and then a minute later make them laugh, simply because she is such an incredibly good actress.
What are you most looking forward in the second half of 2016?
I am really looking forward to my prize of the 'acting for camera' course, which I’m sure will be amazing. I hope to learn a lot.