Saturday, 27 September 2008

The End of the Beginning?

Two years ago we started to put in place plans for a new degree programme that would focus on preparing our students for the world of work. We quickly realised that it meant offering more 'training' to our students and look at create modules that would support the move from school to professional employment. We wanted to create a degree that would educate students to be intelligent and independent thinkers, as well as creative artists and skillful technicians of their craft.

To help raise the bar we changed the way we recruit We mailed every school in the country and we stopped giving out unconditional offers, even to very high flying students. We figured that 'bright' people wouldn't trust a University that just offered a place without interview or audition. We interviewed everybody. Simultaneously we started to discriminate, both in the publicity and in our talk, making it clear that passengers or students who thought drama might be a 'doss' need not apply.

Finally we invested in the theatre itself, new seating, a revamped foyer with proper signage and a pledge to bring in more professional work from outside.

In short we positioned ourselves in what we felt was a niche, between University and Drama School.

Tonight at the end of a long week, in which we've welcomed and worked with the first cohort of students recruited on the new degree, I stood outside the theatre bathed for the first time in the neon glow of our smart new entrance and realised that much of what we've wished for has started to happen. It was a very, very good feeling!

The return of Yard Gal is very welcome and although Monsay and Steph are a little off the blistering pace they achieved back in the Spring -it was a useful and essential run out in the build up to the run at The Oval House next month.

The girls were predictably down at the end, but it's really just a matter of fitness and this will come with hard work over the next month or so. It's going to be a tough call to play night after night for three weeks, especially in the highly physical version that Stef O'D has created for them. The writer, Rebecca Prichard, has also asked for the cuts made for the original work tobe put back in, adding a good twenty minutes to what was a very tight piece.

Re staging will call for genuine stamina and sensible pacing but, provided they don't become victims of their own self-doubt, I've absolute faith in the show.

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