HISTORY of LONDON GROUP THEATRE
Hello, my name is Tom Radcliffe and I am the director of the London Group Theatre. The London Group Theatre was first begun in 1992 shortly after I had returned from my first period of training with Sanford Meisner in Los Angeles.
I went to the Central School of Speech and Drama in 1984 and my career as an actor began in 1987 when I left early to take a supporting role in the BBC film 'The Most Dangerous Man in the World' directed by Gavin Millar.
In the ten years that followed I played many leading parts in film, television and theatre.
I was always dissatisfied however with my acting. Regardless of my moderately successful career and much praise I sought endlessly in acting classes for a teacher who really knew something or a technique which really worked.
In 1990 I found myself working in a television series with a wonderful actor who had recently finished training with Sanford Meisner. He introduced me to the technique and played tapes of Sandy teaching. I was instantly certain that this was the teacher I had been looking for.
Sanford Meisner was a founding member of the Group Theatre in the 1930's in America which took it's inspiration from the work of Stanislavski in Russia.
I wrote to Sandy and he allowed me to join the class the following year in 1991.
I studied with Sanford Meisner and also his assistant Martin Barter, going back and forth from England to America, until 1996; a year before his death and I also taught what I was learning from him at the London Group Theatre, which I set up as a weekly acting group in order to practice the Meisner Technique.
I did not think of myself as a teacher at this time, taught for free and would often act in the class with students.
At the end of 1996 I was coming to the conclusion that I did not want to be an actor anymore. I had taken up meditation very seriously and wanted to persue it. I had become a family man and wanted to devote time to that too. I was also rather disappointed at the increasingly commercially driven direction that the dramatic arts were taking in this country. I did one final job on the television, turned down the offer of a job on 'The Bill' and quit.
I handed the London Group Theatre over to my long time student Jean Fennell, an indomitable and deeply passionate woman and a great teacher who taught until she died four and a half years ago.
I worked in various jobs for a few years but eventually went into mental health as an outreach worker for Lewisham Council.
The inveitable social worker burnout happened and I began looking into teaching as a possibility. I had so completely abandoned the theatre that I did not even consider teaching Meisner Technique again until an old friend looked me up to ask if I would help his girlfriend with her stage fright. She had just come off a TV soap and been cast in the theatre.
I agreed and found I loved doing it again. More invitations to teach followed and I have taught now for over eleven years.
Recently I reformed the London Group Theatre with the express aim of taking the actors training all the way into performance.
I believe that actors must reclaim their art form from the stranglehold of 'the industry'.
We must strive for truth and excellence in our art and insist on putting up our own productions in our own way.
I wish us all success in that endeavour.
Tom Radcliffe, 2015