As part of their dissertations, Drama St Mary's students are allowed to write plays. One of the best this year has been put together by Beth: The Milkman and the Mountain. The Mayor of a cash strapped Alpine town decides to hire out the entire valley to rich rich business men in an attempt to rejuvenate the local economy. The first business man who arrives has a marvellous time and in particular falls in love with the artisan cheese made by Hans and his small herd of happy cows. The business man sees great potential for expansion, wealth, franchise and global domination, but is foiled by Hans unwillingness to want more than a quiet life in the mountains, making just enough cheese to keep his customers and cows content. As the play continues the business man becomes more and more Machiavellian, the Mayor more and more desperate and the cows more and more confused as to why anybody would want to swap the idyllic life in the mountains for fame, glory and power.
It's a beautiful morality story for kids, a charming piece drawing with nods to Durrenmatt's The Visit and Gogol's The Government Inspector.
Beth hasn't rested on her laurels, however, and, with the able help of Jo, has been touting the work around The Unicorn, Polka and The Little Angel.
Today she's found out that the a recent reclaimed pub in Vauxhall, The Tea House Theatre have agreed to give the work a three week run on a book office split in July.
It's not the big time, but it's exactly the kind of opportunities graduates should be looking for. Taking work developed in the safety of the University and pitching it on the fringe. It's a window to showcase the writing and also, through the casting, give some young actors the chance to begin the difficult task of becoming recognisable to directors, audiences and critics.
Most graduates need to find a job straight away and many are forced to gravitate to retail work to pay the rent. It's important, that they find the energy to keep their theatrical ambitions ticking over, at weekends, in the evenings. Graduation isn't an arrival. It's just the beginning of the hard work. Students, like Beth and Jo, who understand this, give themselves the chance to flourish.
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.