Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Comings and Goings

There's some changes in the staffing for next year. Glyn is moving on after five years here to concentrate more on writing and work as a producer, starting with his production of Coffee, (see image) which is playing at the Edinburgh fringe, and joining us is Patsy Burn from Northumbria. Patsy is a voice specialist an area that we've really needed support in and we're hoping that her arrival will really move us up a gear in this particular discipline. It's an exciting appointment.

As ever at the end of the year the last few days have been a period of review to enable us to look forward to the future, right the wrongs on the courses and improve.

For me the big focus needs to be on the Drama core - which students sometimes see as less interesting to the practical pathways. It's always going to be tougher to create a stimulating lecture/seminar course, but with more focus on the way these modules feed into the training and perhaps more innovative approaches to delivery we can being to square the circle. The last couple of years have seen us big on the vision for the department and we have I think put together a course that takes the best of University and the best of Drama School training - but the mini battles, over what to teach and how often to teach it, remain.

One of the very positive aspects about the department is that staff fight to increase their own contact hours (as the student protests in Manchester demonstrate this isn't true in all institutions) and the focus remains pointedly on the student experience, occasionally at the expense of our own research.

Value added is key to giving the students a fighting chance. I've been lucky enough to work for two remarkable institutions at remarkable times. Firstly I was a member of the National Youth Theatre during the late eighties and early nineties and secondly I taught at Stratford College in the late nineties. These were two of my happiest experiences and what marks them out as special is that nobody worried about the hours they put in or what they did. The work was everything, sacrifices were huge and shared, meaning that the pride that we had in each other was absolutely inclusive. It's no surprise to me that so many from these companies have successfully managed to make their way into the theatre industry in a way that isn't true of the places I've worked that have tried to regulate hours.

If solidarity means running the same risks then happiness comes from having the courage to take them in the first place.

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