The Art of Performance: Interview with Director Conor Armstrong Sanfey

By Gemma Creagh - Last update


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Do you pine to dance on Broadway? Perhaps you long for a starring role on that gritty Netflix production or can see yourself bringing the house down doing stand-up. If performance in the creative arts is something that inspires you, your first step towards success is to get that training. Conor Armstrong Sanfey is the man to help you get there with StageScreen Classes.

Not only is Conor is an award-winning theatre director but he’s just directed a successful feature film which is presently playing on festival screens around the country and across the pond. He has led multiple theatre productions throughout Ireland, including the 2011 tour of Stones In His Pockets and the 2013 Irish premiere of The Great Gatsby. Presently, his multi-award winning feature film ‘LIFT’ is due for release in October. We got to chat with him about his past, his inspiration and the importance of making your own opportunities.

What’s your own background in performance?

I have always been interested in acting and directing from a very young age. I did speech and drama for many years, gaining my ALCM Teaching diploma whilst also gaining a BA (Hons) in Film and Television production from the national film school at IADT.

Where do you get your inspiration?

While I have numerous influences and get inspiration from many theatre performers and tutors. What really inspires me is watching my students develop and improve.

You directed a film last year – tell me about that process?

It was an amazing challenge. LIFT has gone on to screen in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Donegal, Hastings, Crystal Palace, Maryland and Chicago and will be released in Canada and America in October.

Well done! We look forward to catching in in October. What do you see as the main differences between performing for stage and screen?

It is crucial for actors to work in both styles as they can be very different. On screen, it is all in the eyes and is much more natural. On stage, your movements are bigger, and you only have one shot at getting it right. It is so important for actors to train in both styles of acting, and our courses include training in both.

What is a common mistake that actors make when they are starting out?

The biggest mistake that I find actors starting out make, is underestimating the craft. You have to be 100% committed to a career in the arts. Go out and throw yourself into any and all projects. Do not be picky. You never know what might turn into something or when you can make a useful connection.

Hedge your bets? Good advice there. So a lot of actors seem to write/or direct their own material, what are the pros/cons of this?

I don’t see any cons to this. It is something I would recommend to every actor. No need to sit waiting for the phone to ring. Go and start your own projects and keep busy.

What technical skills are important for people who want to act?

Not so much technical skills, but a sense of purpose and commitment is key. Being a hard worker is crucial for people who want to act.

Tell me a little about the structure of the StageScreen Classes. What will people learn on these programmes?

The acting and teaching diploma courses run for three terms of ten weeks over the course of the academic year. Students take part in weekly classes and workshops in improvisation, acting to camera, Chekhov, mime and movement and much more. A casting workshop with Louise Kiely Casting is included… pending availability. In term three, students take their exams with international exam boards and colleges and take part in a showcase in a city venue.

Thanks for chatting with us, Conor. 

Now if you can see a future for yourself in front of a camera or audience check out StageScreen Classes now. They run creative and innovative courses for all ages and ability levels. Study for international diplomas from some of the UK’s leading colleges and exam boards.


Gemma Creagh

Gemma is a nomadic writer, filmmaker, & journalist. She was born in Cork, lives in Dublin, and studied in Belfast & Galway, where she graduated from NUIG’s Writing MA. She has penned articles for national publications and is the editorial assistant for Film Ireland Magazine. Gemma was the writer and co-producer of the five-part comedy ‘Rental Boys’ for RTÉ’s Storyland. Her short films have screened at festivals around the world.
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