My name is Sanjay Lago and I am an actor and theatremaker based in Scotland. I graduated with a BA Hons in Contemporary Performance Practice degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. I trained as an actor previous to this at college, but the undergrad I took not only taught me skills in performing but also directing, producing, writing. I left a more rounded artist and started creating my own work too. I also got the chance to work with companies across the UK and here at Home.
But even though I auditioned to get into drama school like everyone else, I didn’t just apply straight up. I came in to the drama school through doing 2 years of short courses, which supported artists that wouldn’t usually be able to afford to get in. I was lucky to have met amazing staff and on April Fool’s day 2015 I got my unconditional offer. I didn’t believe it for a good few hours then a friend told me that no way one of the biggest drama schools in the UK would play such a prank on me.
I had a tough time in the early days as I didn’t get on with people in my class or around me due to differences in the way we spoke. But I made great friends with people in other courses and year groups. Through one essay at RCS, a lecturer helped me to find out that I am actually Dyslexic, this was the first big life change I experienced at RCS. I created over time my own shows looking at themes such as belonging, identity, masculinity and male suicide. Another life change was to be able to speak about such topics. The other big life change was I came out to my parents in my final year. I felt so supported during my time at RCS and the people around me that I came out to my parents the day before my 26th birthday which was also my degree show. It just showed to me the power of the arts, that I was able to feel comfortable and speak about myself in an autobiographical show and know that I was supported.
Whilst studying, I juggled 4 jobs. These were ushering in 2 theatres, ushering in my drama school and doing admin in the short courses department of the drama school. I always was known as someone who juggled a lot and I felt it was right to work as I wasn’t always 100% sure what life after graduating would be like, if I would get work creatively straight away or not.
After graduation I expected life to be quiet. I thought I would be waiting around to hear about jobs. I thought I would be anxious about what to do and if I chose the right path. It is an industry where you just never know what will happen or who you will meet or where you will go. SO, I expected after graduation that I would just continue my life of ushering and admin.
But in reality, I have taken on less ushering and have set days for my admin work, so I am able to earn money that way. But I have gone back into acting and been creating and acting in short films. I also acted as an elf for the Christmas period. I was lucky enough to get funding for a new work in progress and also to get funding to further develop my shows. Post-Graduation has been a great time, but I have always been a believer that with this industry, the work won’t come to you sitting on your ass, you have to go and get the work. You have to network and get your voice heard out there. I was lucky enough during my degree to have made connections and networks with people which meant I was known in some creative circles in Scotland.
Being of South Asian heritage, I was also brought on board to host a festival with other artists and to bring my love of art into the world of my culture.
I found myself doing jobs that were admin based, I was on committees talking about the arts and was also hosting charity concerts. I never expected to be doing this post-graduation, but it was a great change. As well as these jobs, I got time to write and read more, as well as doing teaching of drama in schools.
The delightful results of following what I love was taking on a course that grew my passion and opened other doors. And I feel happy to sit and do what I love and inspire others to do so too. It isn’t an easy industry, there is still lots to learn. For example, getting a balance when it comes to racial diversity and not just picking one group over another. There needs to be more work created for new artists.
But I never thought I would be doing what I am today. I was told in school by a teacher that I was thick and stupid and would never get a degree, these words stayed with me and I worked hard to not let it get me down. So never give up in what you are passionate about. To be here in this crazy industry is something I would never have thought I’d still be in.
It’s a rollercoaster, but if you love the thrill and adventure, then step aboard. And know that you will always find people to support you! One thing I am thankful for is the friends for life I have made.
Wishing you a brilliant World Theatre Day!