EastEnders actor “Fatboy” visits Burnt Mill Academy

EASTENDERS actor Ricky Norwood is devoting time to developing the talents of Harlow youngsters.

Burnt Mill Academy was introduced to the Rudolph Walker Inter-School Drama Award by its founder Rudolph Walker, who plays Patrick Truman in the long-running BBC soap opera.

Having spent time with Year 7 to 10 students during a surprise visit, he has now brought in colleague Ricky – who played Arthur “Fatboy” Chubbs in the soap – to spend four weeks nurturing and developing the creative and technical skills of those interested in media.

Working with Ricky, students are creating their own drama piece which they will perform against other schools at an awards event in March in front of an audience including more EastEnders stars.

Ricky, who is working with a group of Year 7 students for the show, said: “Within the Foundation, we are trying to give young people a platform to speak, to have fun, to learn and to share in a safe environment. There’s a lot going on in the world and the UK and often young people’s voices are drowned out by the madness.

“This Foundation gives them an opportunity to speak on what they love, what they hate, what they want to shout about and stand up for. At the same time, they get to work with an actor who they might know off the telly. That helps to influence them to know there are levels they can reach. To have someone come and believe in them and give their time and energy; someone who was on telly inspiring them and motivating them; that’s a good thing.

“This isn’t just for drama, but for their exams and themselves for the future. As long as we have passion and love, we will get through it and have a good time.”

The four visits started with Ricky getting students to simply open up and talk about their passions. Week two saw those chosen topics turned into the start of a performance, with students showing the actor some improvisation they had put together themselves.

He said: “I was taken aback; they are Year 7. They never fail to surprise me and enlighten me with what they come up with.

“Their performance will be developed from these improvised scenes. I will teach them stage techniques and theatre etiquette, but the core of the piece is what they feel is important. It is all about them and what they want to say.

“A lot of people think when you are on TV, it is all given to you and that it comes easy. I try to show them nothing comes without hard work and dedication.”

Phil Watson, lead practitioner of drama, said: “These students were chosen as they have shown a lot of commitment. The class was asked to put together a show as an audition and these students were chosen for their wonderful ideas.”

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