Sebastian Derby headshot - Institute for Contemporary Theatre

ICTheatre / In The Spotlight

In the Spotlight: Sebastian Derby – ICTheatre

12th March 2024

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In the Spotlight is our regular feature where we meet current students from our Performing Arts faculty, made up of Institute for Contemporary Theatre, Northern Ballet School, and Performers College. This week we meet Sebastian Derby, a third-year Acting for the 21st Century pathway student from our Manchester campus.

What inspired you to train in acting?

Before joining ICTheatre I always dreamed of becoming a performer. Growing up it became more and more clear that my career lay in this direction. My love and passion for acting has always been ever present in my life as I took part in school plays and drama classes, but everything changed when I joined ICTheatre. All of a sudden those dreams became more tangible and achievable as I learned from the creative influences around me, and I can’t wait to keep going further.

Why did you choose ICTheatre Manchester?

I sort of knew going to university would be when I finally left home, as there aren’t many Acting courses in Northern Ireland. Growing up in a family full of Manchester United fans however, meant I knew quite a bit about this fantastic city, even before I arrived. It wasn’t just the city that made me choose ICTheatre, the course itself is extremely well equipped at preparing young actors for this modern industry. The staff at ICTheatre are fantastic and go above and beyond to support their students in any way they can. I owe much of what I’ve learned to these creative people.

four students stand wearing office clothes and red ties

What’s your personal highlight of his time at ICTheatre so far?

I’ll never forget the day our Pathway leader Bill Hopkinson told us that our first public show was going to be A Christmas Carol. Everyone was excited but there was one particular element that excited me the most. We were all very used to multi-rolling but for this performance, they decided only one actor would play Scrooge for the whole show. I remember going home that day having already made the decision – I wanted the challenge. To this day I haven’t regretted that choice, as I won the role of Scrooge myself. Working with the fantastic Simon Trinder and Kate Webster changed me as an actor. They taught me so much and truly shaped me and showed me the kind of acting I want to do. To this day, A Christmas Carol is still my favourite performance I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of.

Sebastian portrays Scrooge sat on the end of his bed

Where do you hope your career takes you in the future?

I’ve always said I wanted to go into screen acting, but through my experience at ICTheatre, I’ve fallen in love with stage acting. Upon graduation, I am still hoping to continue down the Screen acting route, however, I hope that my career allows me to explore the many different areas of the industry I’ve developed an interest in.

What advice would you give someone applying to ICTheatre?

My biggest piece of advice would be trust your tutors. If you’re preparing to go on this journey then understand it will be fun, it will be unique but it will be challenging. Know that you will struggle at times, but if you trust your tutors and really take the teachings they offer, you can learn so much from this course and really develop and grow, both as an actor and as a person.

Sebastian sits in the ICTheatre common room with three friends

What are you working on next?

In April I’ll be performing the role of Grez in my final show at ICTheatre, called Red Noses. I am extremely excited to begin this project as it’s a very particular type of show and a big challenge for a lot of actors. Comedy is truly one of the hardest types of acting and Clown is a whole other way of performing within comedy, but throughout my time at ICTheatre, I have been fortunate enough to study and learn many genres of comedy – including Commedia Dell’arte under Mark Winstanley and can’t wait to work on one final project.

Outside of this project, I am collaborating with 4 other actors on my course to create a sketch comedy show as part of our final project assessment. We’re really excited to bring our different areas of comedy research together and bring our ideas to life.

To discover more about joining Institute for Contemporary Theatre, including auditions and how to apply, contact us at [email protected] or book an Audition or Open Day on our Events page.

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