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  • Writer's pictureJacob Meadows

Interview with Fourth Monkey all things 'COLD'

Introduce yourself! Tell us your name, what you studied at Fourth Monkey plus a little

about your background.

Hi! I’m Jacob Meadows. I studied on what was the two-year rep, now the BA. I’m

from the Midlands, not far from Stratford Upon Avon, which is where I studied drama

at college, after deciding the Marines was not for me.

What was it that appealed to you about Fourth Monkey and why did you choose the

school for your actor training?

I heard about Monkey via a friend I met whilst on a workshop, and this was relatively

late in the year to be applying to drama schools. On a whim I emailed, managed to

get in for a last-minute audition and secured a spot. I never viewed myself as a

‘physical performer’ as such and didn’t have a great deal of knowledge when it came

to physical theatre as a practice. Fourth Monkey brought that out in me and gave me

the tools to explore and understand it in depth. The physical training transfers into

EVERYTHING. What stood out for me on application were the practitioners and the

ethos of the school. I love to collaborate, learn and create - Fourth Monkey gives you

the space and tools to do both. 

Can you tell us a bit about your audition day memories with Fourth Monkey?

My audition day was very last minute, so it was just me and Steve in a room, running

through my speeches. Looking back, I cringe a little. I thought I had a good idea of

what I was doing, but I was very fresh-faced to the game. All in all, it was pretty brief.

I remember being a bag of nerves, and learning to accept that or even use it, is a

lesson I wish I could have understood back then. It’s very easy, when starting out, to

feel as though you have something to prove and to push when, really, you want to be

doing the opposite.

Can you share a few highlights from your training with Fourth Monkey? Were there any

practitioners who have influenced your creative choices or any classes that have stuck with you since you graduated?

Clown was a standout class for me. Not only was it heaps of fun, but I also learned

lessons and quotes in clown that I still carry with me on the daily, particularly when it

comes to castings - props to Steven Sobal for these. Another standout for me would

be solo story - getting the chance to create and direct your own work with the scope

to take it further. It’s something I look back on and wish I’d taken more advantage of.

Make the most of that free space and time to create!

Mime with Guillaume Pige will always stay with me. It gave ‘attention to detail’ a

whole new meaning. It opened up a completely fresh way of collaborative working,

especially when it came to devising one of our graduate shows, ‘Woman and the

canvas’. I’m not one to say never, but I’m not sure I’ll get an experience like that


Where did you imagine your actor training taking you when you joined Fourth Monkey

and how has this evolved since you started working as a performer and creative?

I came to Fourth Monkey looking for the tools to create compelling work as an actor.

I left with those tools, but it took time for many of them to fully sink in so that I could

understand them and utilize them in a way that worked for me. ‘The actors process’,

I guess you could say, is personal and ever evolving.

I didn’t really have an end goal for where Monkey would take me. It has, however,

opened many doors for me that otherwise would likely have remained closed, and for

that I am grateful. What I would say is that storytelling is at its strongest in images.

It’s visual - we connect with images, with movements and the moments that surround

words - so whether you want to go on to do purely physical-based acting or not,

having a strong base in physical training is always going to benefit you. Even the

smallest of gestures can make for a very compelling character.

Tell us a bit about your work as a professional performer and creative since

graduating from Fourth Monkey - what have your professional highlights

been? Are there any interesting collaborators, projects or shows that you can

tell us about?

Since graduating, I’ve worked predominantly on screen in shorts, features and a few

commercials which are always nice for those rainy days. I’ve dipped back into

theatre with, COLD, a feature length physical theatre piece, shot entirely in a theatre,

about baby loss and miscarriage. Although it’s digital, the devising and rehearsal

process was very much theatre based, which I loved.

Currently, I’m looking to produce a short film I’ve written called, ‘Airwaves’, and I’m in

rehearsals for a theatre piece that got postponed due to covid. I’ve got several shorts

and a feature in the pipeline, set to shoot later this year, but I cannot wait to get back

in a live space.

Something I’d like to explore more of this year is directing, so if anyone out there

needs a director, get in touch! It’s been a strong start for the industry, despite the

covid cancellations, so I have a very good feeling about this year for all creatives.

You recently worked with Open Sky Theatre on their feature film COLD, which

premiered as part of London Mime Festival - tell us a little about how you

became involved with this project, the experience of working with Open Sky

Theatre and being involved with London Mime Festival?

I saw the role posted online, read the description and knew this was a project I had

to be involved with. It was the usual process… I applied, was selected to audition,

which happened over zoom as this was during the second lockdown, and a few

rounds later, I got the news from my agent that I’d landed the role. A few weeks later

I was in Hereford, devising the show!

Janet Etuk, who I star alongside, was cast as Falda, and we clicked from the get-go.

Janet is a phenomenal actor, she’s so open, humble and giving, and that made the

entire process so exciting to show up to each day. There were many times, after

rehearsal, where we’d run through our scenes and give each other feedback.

Forming this bond and trust with Janet massively helped the whole process.

The first day of rehearsals was surreal. It had been a year of lockdown, so being

around new people in a theatre was crazy, and it took some getting used to. Lisle

(the writer/director) showed up and handed us a 70-page script, hot off the press.

We read it aloud to get a feel for the story, which opened up the conversation and,

from there, we put the scripts down and started devising the show under Claire’s


For the initial part of the process, we had an empty space, no props and very little to

work with other than ourselves, so that freedom was quite daunting. The plus side to

this was that we had pretty much free reign to improvise whatever we needed to

make each scene work. 

Having Claire Coache as director in the room was such a treat. Her process guided

us gently to create what you see on the screen, and, in such a short amount of time,

we had a ton of material. Claire is a brilliant director and a beautiful human being.

Both Claire and Lisle opened up the rehearsal room so much from the get-go, which

made it a really collaborative environment where we could bring our own ideas and

thoughts to the room and the roles. This made the whole devising process a lot of

fun and, more importantly, safe, despite the delicate subject matter we we’re


It wasn’t really until the final week that we had any real props or costume to work

with. The shed, the trees, the snow, and most of the props that you see in the film,

we didn’t get to work with until the first day of shooting, so that was quite an


Showing up to set on day one was a magical experience, and kudos to Carl Davies

for pouring his soul into this project. Carl created pretty much everything we had to

work with, including the set. He made this fantasy we had built in our minds a reality.

Claire handed over direction to Lisle for the filming and remained on hand to go over

anything we struggled transferring from rehearsals to set and was an all-round

maaaaaassssiveee support. Thank you, Claire.

Due to time constraints, we often only had one or two takes to get what we needed

before we had to move on, which, given the emotional stakes and complexity of

some of the scenes, was a big challenge to step up to. Having said that, you

wouldn’t usually get three weeks of devising prior to a film so we had the work

bubbling and ready to go.

As most of the film is silent, we did get to create and rehearse scenes to a playlist,

which we were able to play live while filming some of the scenes. This was extremely

useful for finding the nuance in both the intricate moments and the bigger ones.

Music can be transcendental and is a very useful tool for an actor to quickly

rediscover and stimulate the ecology of a character, an emotion or a moment.

You can watch COLD online on the London Mime Festival website until 6 th February.

It will also carry on its life at film festivals later this year and the rest remains to be


I want to leave this bit by saying that each and every person that worked on COLD

poured everything into it, and I am so proud of what we have all achieved.

What is the one piece of advice you would share with anyone applying to and

auditioning for Fourth Monkey?

Know what your character wants and really get through to the person you are talking

too. If you can, use a person not the wall. Focus on achieving that want and not the

audition. It’s easy to get lost in nerves or trying to impress. A mantra I find useful is

‘be less impressed more involved’. Other than that, just go for it, be real and

remember it’s your time and space to do what you do, own that. Something I’ve

learned is that you should be taking care of the panel, don’t ask them to take care of


Finally, is there one piece of quintessential advice that you would share with

those students who will be graduating from Fourth Monkey in the summer?

I’m not sure if it’s advice but there’s a lot of patience involved in this game and it’s

easy to get hung up on the ‘in-between’ moments, where you’re not working, or you

are, but it’s not the work you want to be doing. Use these moments wisely. Prepare,

go see stuff, take classes, create work and enjoy a bit of life, it’s easy to get so

consumed with ‘the work’ that you can forget there is a life outside of it.

On the flip side, be ready to become best friends with your email. A lot of work at the

beginning will come off your own back.

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