We had our first audition day for next year's intake. Time doesn't half move fast. We saw about thirty in all. By the time September comes round we'll have all three year groups for the new degree up and running. There were some really good applicants and the work was really impressive. Little by little I think we're raising the standards and bringing in more and more students who are really hungry to work. The really pleasing aspect of this is that success breeds success and we all raise our game.
More committed students mean lecturers wasting less time wasted chasing up the absent, the late and the apathetic and more time focusing on creating meaningful and exciting possibilities. Happy students, secure that they're on the right course, demand less support and more stimulation. For these reasons I always think interviews are a two way process. We might really like a student, but if they can't see how they would fit then there is little point in them making the three year investment to come to us. The day has to cut through charm and persuasion on both sides and be check for both of us.
In the evening I went over to The Oval House where lots of our former and current students are working on the 33% London festival - a celebration of the creative output of the 33% of Londoners who are under 25.
The evening started with a series of short vignettes by young writers in site specific locations around the building. Stef (whose co-produced the whole event), Tuan and Kieran had all directed bits, as we were led through the spaces in groups of ten. The range of work was really impressive from absurdism to naturalistic exchanges, from the comic to the menacing everything carried an important call for attention.
Afterwards we were taken into the main house for There is Nothing There - a composite work of four short plays each focusing on growing up. The best was Wish You Were Here by Steve Hevey. Set in a suburban sitting room, three lads try to make sense of their evening. Rob, whose house it is is baby sitting for his little brother and has just managed to get him to sleep. Kadeem has come round and wants to get a party started. A third character trapped inbetween these opposed positions of freedom and responsibility tries hard to mediate the tension. Hevey's kept the situation simple, but his writing shows a neat line in tight dialogue and sensitivity to balancing the conflicts between his three characters. A bright future I think.
The Oval has been good to St Mary's students offering the opportunity to extend their performance, writing and directing skills, whilst honouring their work with proper mentoring and exposure. For developing artists it's so important not to feel subservient to tradition or style. You've got to be free to tell your own stories in your own way.