How Not to be a Polymath. By Rose Lewenstein

I have enormous admiration for polymaths who make it work, because I have to admit that juggling art forms has caused me nothing but trouble.

As a child, my parents were always supportive and I never felt pressured into pursuing a Real Job* – in fact, my mother always said I should be a writer.  But when I was six, I decided I was going to be an actress.  10 years later, I started training in Musical Theatre, confident I’d be a West End star by the time I turned 20.  When in one of my tutorials I was asked whether I had a Plan B, I answered quite confidently that yes, I did have a Plan B.  If things didn’t work out, I would to move to Paris and become a jazz singer.  (Later that year I received a Rough Guides book as a birthday present from my father.  I told you my parents were supportive).

Somewhere between my diploma in Musical Theatre and my degree in Performance Arts, I decided that what I really wanted to be was a theatre director.  So I set up a theatre company with a friend and we put on a couple of plays and it was great fun and I learnt a lot and I think the main thing I learnt was that I didn’t really want to be a theatre director.

And so, having crossed West End Star and Theatre Director off my list, I was accepted by the (now Royal) Central School of Speech & Drama.  Over the three years we studied Acting, Voice, Movement, Directing, Dramaturgy, Writing, Text Analysis, Creative Producing, Contemporary Theatre Making, Interdisciplinary Theatre Practice and of course Performance Art (I briefly thought it might be the path for me when my friend Julia and I attempted to conduct a civil partnership in front of the class – our backdrop a porn film and our soundtrack Rachmaninoff – to illustrate, um, something about stereotypes and attitudes towards same sex marriage) – so pretty much most things that relate to most jobs in theatre. Continue reading


Meet multi-tasking actor Katie Lyons

Katie is an actor, currently appearing in BBC3’s new comedy series Bluestone 42. She is also a writer, private tutor, work-shop leader and (sometimes) producer.

Was it a conscious decision to become a ‘polymath’, or something that happened organically over time? I think it’s in my nature…I’ve always wanted to do lots of things. It’s that, combined with the need to survive. After an initial run of work when I first started acting, I was working as a waitress in a hospital, and I ended up not getting a call from my agent for 3 months. I just found it really frustrating…feeling like you’re not in control of it, and so I think that what’s driven me to be a ‘polymath’.

What was your first leap into polymathy? My friend Morgan and I wrote and produced a show for the Edinburgh festival, and after that we were fortunate enough to get onto a BBC scheme called ‘comedy college’ and that was probably when I started saying ‘actually, I can write..I am a writer’. We produced all our Edinburgh shows ourselves out of necessity, but the one year we did end up going with a production company, was the one year we lost money!

Which have been your favourite experiences? Do you prefer just acting or do you like to be more creatively involved? I think I would creatively be frustrated if acting was all I did…. Continue reading