Good news this morning from Sarah Esdaile, who oversees our MA in Theatre Direction and is currently up in Leeds rehearsing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof for the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
The theatre has teamed up with The Guardian to pioneer a new interactive way of covering the theatre production process, inviting the public to engage with her production process through hosted web chats and a daily blog. Once the show opens, next week, audiences will be encouraged to submit their own reviews and participate in a live twitter feed that will continue for the duration of the run. Both of the paper’s senior critics Michael Billington and Lyn Gardner are also going to publish full reviews.
MA Directing students are heavily involved in supporting the production and next week will travel to Leeds to take part in technical rehearsals and note sessions with the actors, who include Downton Abbey’s Zoe Boyle and Jamie Parker, fresh from playing Henry V at The Globe this summer.
Sarah's been running this course for us for ten years now, ably assisted by Chris White. Between them they're given a fantastically intimate, industry focused training to the cohort.
The presence of mature students in the department is also important. They nearly always come with a great sense of purpose and a real understanding as to why they want the degree. It's a good counter balance to the sometimes unfocused excitement of our undergraduates. Alongside the directing students' Kasia's MA Physical Theatre course is also going from strength to strength. Producing ever more interesting and imaginative responses to their project briefs.
The West Yorkshire Playhouse connection isn't just an added bonus, it's a great pay off for our belief that high profile practitioners, rather than renowned academics should deliver the Masters programmes. It's great that so early in their course the students are being given the chance to fully immersive themselves in the latter stages of a professional production process and to see close up how a director, a theatre and the media can work in concert to generate interest in the work.
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.