A new semester begins today. For the first time in months the corridor is full with students full of excitement, questions and expectation for what will happen over the next three years. Most of us can remember our first day at University. That sense that after a year of planning, reading prospectuses, applying, interviewing and waiting through summer you've finally arrived. Gulp! The team spent most of the day shaking hands, chatting to our new cohort and helping the freshers find their way about. No closed doors for us, but big smiles and warm welcomes.
There are a few changes at Drama St Mary's. After eight years at the helm Trevor has stepped aside from running the Programmes to enjoy his Professorship. He's still very much part of the department and students are going to really benefit as he gets to spend more time in the rehearsal rooms and lecture theatres. Beyond the return to teaching he's also going to concentrate more on developing our external partnerships and looking for ways to improve the employment opportunities for our graduates.
It's been a difficult time for Arts and Humanities subjects this year. Although it's clear that, despite the rise in fees, there are still thousands of both school leavers and adults returning to education, looking for a degree in these subjects. It's equally clear that, if we want to continue to be attract students the onus on us is to do everything we can to create a curriculum relevant to the industry. One that not just produces informed graduates, but also makes them ready to pick up first jobs in the theatre profession.
Drama St Mary's has always run an extra curricular meritocracy, with the most able students being invited by the lecturers to support their own professional gigs, mostly as technicians or taking small parts. Whilst our links with many of London's Theatres seems to encourage our students to write the letters, arrange the meetings and gently hustle for opportunities to get started. Trevor's charged with formalising our approach and making sure that the industry is aware just how able, willing and work focused our graduates are.
The change has meant that I've now become Academic Director and Patsy has taken over my role as Programme Director for Applied Theatre. In the main, though, it's business as usual.
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.