Name: Oliver Hodgson
Location: United Kingdom
Trinity qualification:Grade 6 Acting (Solo)
Oliver Hodgson is 16 years old and currently a student of Hurtwood House sixth-form college in Dorking, UK. He has always had a passion for creativity, and laughs that his parents joke about how they don’t know where he got the artistic flair from, as neither of them are involved in the creative sector. Regardless, from a very young age he has been drawn to performance, attempting to learn musical instruments and taking on additional extra-curricular activities – but it was always acting that held his attention most.
His passion for acting was first ignited when his parents enrolled him onto a Stagecoach performance class at just four-years old. There, he absorbed everything they could offer him, including jazz, acting, tap, and ballet. These early experiences all contributed to him being the triple threat performer he is today.
Oliver takes a lot of inspiration from actors that can perform musical theatre, but also engage in writing and production. Two actors he feels an affinity for are Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller: “I think they’re absolutely brilliant.”. Both just so happen to have famously played the role of Sherlock Holmes, but it was their involvement in productions of Frankenstein – a play he is currently studying – that more immediately came to mind.
He completed his Trinity Grade 6 Acting (Solo) qualification when he was in Year 9, at just 13 years old. At the time, he was at Pangbourne College for Drama, where he had been awarded a full scholarship. He scored 93/100 for his exam, and was nominated for TrinityTalent | Class of 2020 for Artistic Achievement.
Oliver really enjoyed the Trinity Drama qualification. For his Grade 6 he had to perform two contrasting play extracts; a piece from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and a piece written post-1990.
“I thought it gave a lot of variety, and I really enjoyed the contract because I did a really serious Shakespeare piece and then a comedic extract from the TV show Fleabag.”
He had to do a lot of research for the Shakespeare piece, as the language wasn’t contemporary so he didn’t pick up the meaning immediately. However, his “small and close knit” group of drama teachers provided a lot of support.
He was then required to perform an interview as in character from one of the plays he performed. He opted for the character of Fleabag, as he thought doing the whole interview in ‘old time English’ would be daunting.
Oliver said of his exam experience, “Trinity’s way of structuring the exam was very interesting, and after the performance I had an ‘interview’ as a character – that was so different. I’ve gone through other exam boards, and Trinity is the only one to have done that, and I absolutely love that.”
Oliver’s exam was face-to-face (rather than a digital assessment which means he was able to meet his examiner), and he commented that the examiner was “lovely”, and they made him feel comfortable, and able to perform at his best.
At Pangbourne College, Oliver was in the fortunate position of being able to practise his pieces with lighting, props and costumes. He says: “We could really get into the character, and it helped me visualise for when I did it with less props, less sound, less lighting, less costume [during the exam].”
This was something Oliver strongly encouraged others to do if possible: “Go full out before the exam, and leave it to your full imagination when it comes to the exam.”
Through his Drama qualification, Oliver now feels he is able to better see things from other people’s perspectives. It has also supported him with public speaking, and more broadly improved his people and professional skills: “It’s given me a lot of drive, time management and discipline”.
It has supported him with his wider studies too. He says, “It’s been really good for media studies, it links in very well. We watch opening sequences of films, and analyse them – and we do that in drama too.”
He also felt that his exam could help him with getting into acting school, and made him feel more comfortable with auditions.
Perhaps most of all, his Trinity drama experience helped crystallise what he wanted to do. Oliver says, “I see myself going into TV and film acting. I love Shakespeare and musical theatre, but I prefer TV and film. It comes more naturally to me.”
Oliver feels he is already making great strides with his creative talent. He describes it as an “absolute dream” to go to Hurtwood House, where he is involved in extracurricular theatre activities and receives private acting tuition. He is already making tentative plans for what comes next, considering both Yale School of Drama in the US, and RADA in the UK.
Asked for something he wished he knew before the exam, Oliver reflected that when he went into the exam he was quite nervous and self-conscious - worried that the examiner was judging him.
However, in retrospect, Oliver reflects: “The examiner just wants to see a good performance. They want to sit back and watch you do your best. They don’t want you to fail, they want you to do really well. If you go into the exam with that mindset, you’ll be like ‘I’m going to show them what I've got’”.
He also confessed to being the designated tip giver on learning lines, due to his speed of getting off-book.
“When learning a script, learn two or three lines, then add on three more lines, then keep adding chunks until you get to the bottom – you’ll know the lines like the back of your hand!”
So, would Oliver recommend doing a Trinity qualification? “Yes, absolutely!” He also said that “the more you put in, the more you’ll get back,” encouraging everyone to give it their all.