We had a cracking open day today and it's hard to believe that we're now recruiting the third year of the re validated programme. This time next year all students will be on the same degree and we can really begin to assess how well the changes have worked.
Kasia, Ian and me led the talks today and re explaining what we do and why we do it gave me a reminder of how unique St Mary's is. X-factor we ain't!
Against received wisdom we've abandoned the supermarket freedoms of a modular structure and instead offer rigorous core training. It's a bold statement of intent that takes an element of choice away from students, but asserts our confidence as lecturers, who know what should be in the curriculum. By taking responsibility in this way and cutting options we've doubled the contact time between lecturers and students. Most have understood and responded well to the coherence of the new programme.
At the same time we've introduced modules designed to help students to think and learn - so that we're not just factory farming performing puppets, but genuine independent artists who are geared up to go out challenge, refine, liberate, advocate or make a revolutionary impact in the creative industries and beyond. There are a million and one ways to fly...
For us, back on the ground, the ideal situation will come when, as in drama schools, assessment is hidden and all of us are focusing on improving through work. I can see a future where our 300 or so students are operating like a large theatre company, off shooting into year group or pathway projects, but all contributing to a yearly programme of public performances and sharings, evolving from workshops, classes and rehearsal periods. Other needs would arise - for box office, marketing, review writing, education and outreach perhaps even catering and merchandising, but these could be developed expediently to the growth in confidence in ourselves as a creative powerhouse, with continuity assured as each year graduates into more responsible roles before flying the nest to do us proud in the industry itself and being replaced by the next cohort of potential artists, who themselves will evolve and adapt to tell the stories relevent to their generation.
We're getting closer.