UWTSD Performing Arts students on tour


20.11.2018

Students from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) are currently touring schools across South West Wales as part of their Performing Arts degree courses.

Touring 1

Third year students on the Carmarthen-based BA Acting and BA Theatre Design and Production courses study a ‘Touring theatre Module’ as part of their degree programme during which they have to devise original pieces for a range of different age groups.

Students are given the artistic freedom to devise and create original work that is no longer than an hour in duration within a set of certain production parameters.  They work with professional directors who guide them throughout the process but the ideas and concepts come from the students themselves.

Alongside this year’s guest directors – Carri Munn and Yvonne Murphy – the third year students have devised two different pieces aimed at Primary School children focusing on the environment and the world around us.  BA Acting students perform the pieces whilst the BA Theatre Design and Production students have designed the shows and will work as stage managers throughout the tours.

Not Just Us is a piece created for children aged 3-7 and is directed by prolific writer, director and stand-up comedian, Carri Munn.

“I’m a professional director and I’ve come in to work on this module with 3rd year BA Acting students on their Touring Theatre on a devised piece which means that we created it - we are the authors of the piece,” says Carri, who’s thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working with the students.

“It’s been wonderful to devise this piece with the students.  I love devising and what’s important for students at this level of their training is that they have ownership of this piece – they’re proud of it and if they’re proud of it, that will sustain them while they’re on tour.  As an actor, the ideal is that you really enjoy what you’re doing and you can share that enjoyment for what you’re doing when you’ve got a long, arduous 10 week tour.  This is a week-long tour but they’ll be doing several shows a day so if they’ve created it they’ll enjoy it, therefore our audience will enjoy it. I’ve had a ball – it’s been great!”

One of the students involved in Not Just Us is third year BA Acting student, Jack Ronan.

“It’s all devised so we started by improvising and then refined it and turned into the show it is now.  It’s been a really good process in terms of seeing what comes out of our heads and how we can turn that into a show for children.

“Our audience is 5 – 7 year olds so we need to be careful about what we’re doing and what we’re saying and to make sure that the message we’re getting across is a positive one without preaching to them.  It’s been a new style of working for me – improvising and devising is a lot more fun than reading a script!  I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Touring 2

The second piece - Alice in a Plastic Wonderland - is aimed at slightly older children, aged 9-11 and warns of the effects of plastics in our oceans. Directed by experienced director and producer, Yvonne Murphy, the students have focussed their piece on the devastating effect that plastic is having on our environment.

“We’ve done a lot of research both into our audience and into the themes of sustainability and the environment and how best to engage with the audience.  The aim is to raise awareness about the massive problem that’s facing our world but also enabling members of the audience to feel that they can make a change to their own actions and behaviours and possibly impact the behaviours of those around them,” says Yvonne.

“It’s a devised piece so we had absolutely nothing to begin with so the first week was really around taking the students’ research and beginning to play with it – finding the things they’d done in their previous two years that we could expand on – whether that was clowning or puppet work or physical theatre.  It was also about finding the things that 10 and 11 year olds will engage with. Allowing them to have fun but also allowing the serious messages of the piece to come through.  It’s been great fun working with them and they’ve been working incredibly hard – they’re very dedicated.”

Preparing for this production has been a challenge for both the BA Acting and BA Theatre Design and Production students.

“We’ve never done any touring theatre before so it’s really exciting to work with such an accomplished touring theatre director – Yvonne Murphy – and it’s really interesting to see her way of directing,” says Caeti Godly, a third year BA Acting student.  “She’s very hands-on; very much ‘in the room’ and is about getting the actors ‘doing’ rather than sitting and talking about it.  I’m usually more of a ‘script’ actor but doing this has made me realise that I enjoy devising  and it’s something that I’d really like to look at once I’ve completed my degree.”

Beth Thomas a third year BA Theatre Design and Production student also relished the opportunities and experiences offered as part of this module.

“My role on this is Designer and I’m mainly designing the set and costumes.  A lot of our set is recycled so we don’t have to buy so much.  It also ties into our theme of sustainability and we’ve recycled and up-cycled as much as we can,” says Beth.  “Designing this has been different to previous shows as we have to fit it all into a van so everything needs to be compact.  It’s a really enjoyable experience.  It’s great to work with a different director as they call on different experiences and have different ways of working and it’s really nice to get a different perspective.”

Giving the students the opportunity to undertake this module allows them to experience the demands and challenges of touring theatre.   

“Our touring module is an important educational experience for all of BA Acting and BA Theatre Design & Production students,” says Stacey-Jo Atkinson, Programme Director for BA Theatre Design & Production.

“Not only are they having to produce a show with a professional director, they also have to pack vans and liaise with schools. It really gives the students a professional experience.”

Dave Ainsworth, BA Acting Programme Director agrees that this module is a very effective way of preparing students for the industry. 

"Actors are more likely to discover that their first professional job will be in Touring Theatre,” says Dave. “This module prepares our actors to work in this medium effectively and to encourage them to develop a professional mind-set within a professional environment."

Students have had a great time creating and devising their pieces and have also relished the opportunity to tour their productions and to perform to children and young people across South West Wales.

To find out more about the shows and the Performing Arts courses based at UWTSD’s Carmarthen campus, please visit www.uwtsd.ac.uk/performing-arts

Further Information

 

For further information, please contact Sian-Elin Davies, Principal Communications and PR Officer on 01267 676908 / 07449 998476 sian-elin.davies@uwtsd.ac.uk