A second round of auditions for the new intake 2012 and the close monitoring continues. In general these early rounds are filled with academic high flyers who are absolutely sure that they want to go to University and are really watching us as we watch them. A substantial number of these students are also doing the rounds of Drama Schools and will, should they gain a place there, in all probability take that road.
A couple of the candidates we saw today were as good as I've seen in the five years I've auditioned and I've no doubt that a similar showing in front of the panelists at RADA or Central and they'll be snapped up.
This is a huge dilemma for us. It's great that year on year the standard of applicants coming to us rises - but I worry a little that we're increasingly seen as an insurance offer or a waiting house for students who are biding their time until the Drama School place becomes available. Whilst our contact time - 19 hours a week for a single honours student - is really competitive compared to other University Drama courses - who pack out their lecture halls but offer a tokenistic approach to practical work- we still can't give our students as intensive a training as the conservatoires.
We could go either way, but have made a clear decision to try and boost our training and play in the big boys league. From September 2/3rds of our modules will be practical (at the moment we're 50% practical, 50% theory) and the theory will have a much more direct relationship to the training. We're also committed to developing the Ways of Seeing work to support the growth of creative artists who are prepared to break away from derivative or cliched work and define the agenda for the future of theatre making. .
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.