Scholar Alumnus – Sam

Published: 24 Jan 2018 | Alumni

Sam joined the Hastings and Bexhill Scholars Programme whilst he was in Year 10 at St Leonards Academy, before going on to study at Bexhill College and graduating from the programme in 2015. He is now well on his path to a successful career in acting, having appeared in HBO’s immensely popular series Game of Thrones as a young ‘Hodor’, as well as having finished filming for his leading role in Lionsgate’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel Leatherface, playing ‘Bud’, one of the teenagers who might grow into the iconic killer.

Sam has always been passionate about drama, theatre, music, poetry and writing. Before joining the Scholars Programme, Sam tells us of some of his frustrations with school. “As a child I loved learning but I wasn’t so keen on school. I wanted to work at my pace and learn things that were of interest to me, but often felt restricted due to the teacher’s need to cater to other members of the class.”

Upon joining the Scholars Programme, Sam was quite tentative about what to expect. “I had been involved in other initiatives in the past which had only served as window dressing for the school to say they’d catered for the more able students.” However, he was soon thrilled to be a part of it, recognising the benefits it had for encouraging him to both develop and push himself, “Focus has always been an issue for me, having a very alert and hyper-sensed brain meant I often wouldn’t dwell on any one task for too long. Villiers Park certainly gave me the help and space to learn how to focus on tasks … It gave me more drive to pursue my goals as well as inspiring me to develop some of my other, less nurtured passions.”

One of Sam’s fondest memories from his time as a Scholar was during our Inspiring Excellence Drama and Theatre Studies residential course. “Although I had been to the facility before as part of the Scholars Programme and thoroughly enjoyed myself I was, nevertheless, struck with a twitching excitement and slight anxiousness. Would I fit in? Would I make friends? Would I enjoy it? Would I learn something?

“I was introduced to the group, a delightful bunch of talented oddballs and worryingly familiar theatre-holics who were all straight away thrusted into the pool of discovery as we began our week of stimulating and challenging seminars and activities. The tutors for the course, Anne-Marie and Tom, were delightful in character, engaging as speakers and their depth of knowledge on the subject led to the extreme broadening of our understanding.

“The activities ranged from researching and experimenting with quirky theatre techniques, like that of Beckett, Artaud and Grotowski, devising from stimuli such as poetry, objects and even ideas and rehearsing using Shakespearean techniques such as using cue-scripts.  We visited the theatre in London to see the exciting new political play “Hope”, visited the V&A museum to look at objects as a construct for theatre, performed monologues in a drama karaoke session and had a discussion on the major issues and thoughts surrounding theatre. All of these were brilliantly planned and wonderfully led by Tom and Anne-Marie, leading to both myself and the rest of the group gaining a whole wealth of knowledge and an added passion for the subject.”

Reflecting on his time on the programme, Sam said, “I would like to thank the Scholars Programme for allowing me the opportunity to grow and develop both mentally and creatively. The residentials and expertise of the staff and tutors were invaluable to my personal development. The programme is part of the reason why I’m where I am today.”

Sam has recently finished working on another new movie, Lords of Chaos, filmed in Budapest, Hungary, acting alongside the likes of Rory Culkin. Villiers Park would like to congratulate Sam once more for all his achievements, and wish him every success as he continues his budding career as an actor.