UWTSD Students perform Mike Bartlett’s Earthquakes in London


Performing Arts students from the BA Acting and BA Theatre Design and Production degree courses at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) have been busy collaborating with actor and director, Ioan Hefin on their forthcoming main house production, Earthquakes in London. 

Earthquakes in London

The production will run from February 21st until March 2nd March at the Halliwell Theatre on the University’s Carmarthen campus

Having premiered at the National Theatre in 2010, Mike Bartlett’s Earthquakes in London is an epic rollercoaster of a play that takes the audience from 1968 to 2525 and back again.

Billed as a fast and furious metropolitan crash of people, scenes and decades that sees three sisters attempt to navigate their dislocated lives and loves, while their dysfunctional father, a brilliant scientist, predicts global catastrophe.

With a company of close to 50 students from UWTSD’s BA Acting and BA Theatre Design and Production degree programmes, the play’s director, Ioan Hefin saw Earthquakes in London as the perfect piece for such a large cast of young people.

“The choice of script initially is one of the hardest things to get right,” says Ioan.  “You obviously need something that’s going to cater for a large cast; you need the gender balance and personally, I love something that’s contemporary and that speaks about the time we live in, the world we live in and the situations we encounter.  It’s important for us to look not only at the content but at the context too to make sure that we have a connection and relationship with the text. I can’t think of any other piece that I’d rather be working on at the moment - it’s a stunning piece of work. 

Earthquakes on London is one of those pieces where nobody feels as though they have a minor role,” continues Ioan.  “From a third year BA Acting student’s perspective this is very important because every person feels they have a role in which they can be stretched; one which they can be challenged – and the cast as well as the Theatre Design and Production students have all been absolutely fantastic.”

Ioan Hefin

Throughout their three years at UWTSD, students on both the Acting and Theatre Design and Production programmes encounter a range of experiences which equip them with the skills and knowledge required to succeed in this competitive industry.  Their third year consists of producing professional productions in a variety of styles, mainly Touring Theatre, Main-House Theatre and Site-specific Theatre, all of which have different demands and boundaries and offer the students a varied range of opportunities to develop and grow in the respective fields.

One of those who’s relishing the opportunity of being part of such a large-scale and challenging production, is Kira Bissex, a third year Acting student:

“It’s been an amazing experience and Ioan is a fantastic director – the way he works is so detailed and in-depth, it’s a way I really enjoy working.  He’s so specific and I think that helps us really bring the characters to life.  I’ve had the best time doing this.  I was really frightened at the start and I thought I’d be out of my depth with this character, I’m not going to be able to do this but with Ioan’s support and the support of the whole company, it’s been amazing. 

Fellow third year Acting student, Caitlin Godley has also enjoyed the challenge of working on such an interesting and dynamic piece:

“When I started on the main house production module, I was absolutely terrified – the size of the script alone scared me as did the size of my character!  But being able to actually get into the rehearsal room and start working on it straight away with a director who works in a really positive way – looking at the way each one of us like to work and is comfortable with what we’re doing – it’s been great and is definitely my favourite Uni experience so far!”

With students from the Acting and Theatre Design and Production courses working together on this main house module, Stacey-Jo Atkinson, Programme Director for Theatre Design and Production programme explains the importance of giving students real-life experiences that prepare them for their careers in Theatre. 

“Our main aim for us is to give our students a tool-bag of skills for when they leave University,” says Stacey-Jo. “From their first day with us until the day they leave us, we make sure that they’ve covered a range of skills, genres and topics so that they feel armed and ready to go out into the industry.  In their third year for instance, they experience three types of theatre – touring theatre; the main house theatre and studio theatre – so when they leave us and start applying for jobs they know that they’ve covered a range of aspects and have experienced a range of styles

“The company includes some 50 students – which is massive!” continues Stacey-Jo.  “The biggest challenge is scale of the production as it’s a beast of a piece.  The play tackles a range of different topics and as it isn’t set in one era nor is it always set in reality - it doesn’t anchor itself to one place or thing.  So the students - in particular our costume and set design students - have had to really think about how to represent, neutralise or emphasise certain things.  The set couldn’t be location specific because we go all the way from 1968 to 2525 so they had to think about how they wanted to share that with the audience in terms of an immersive experience.  There are also a huge number of students to costume and again, they have the challenge of representing different eras and have had to think about how they want to interpret the director’s vision.  We’ve also got props, sound and lighting working on it and the piece is also projection heavy and have been working with Lighting and AV tutor, Ceri James who’s been giving them specialist tuition.  The set construction team has also been working on site with our Production Manager, Dave Atkinson.  It’s such a busy production with teams of students working across the campus - in Y Llwyfan, in the theatre as well as in the workshop.”

Oliver Evans who’s currently on his third year studying Theatre Design and Production has thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working on this production and is now more determined than ever to work in professional theatre.

“I’m loving what I’m doing now on Earthquakes in London and this has definitely made me want to go into the profession – even more so now than when I started Uni.  It’s wonderful seeing the whole thing come together as a proper production.”

Earthquakes in London runs from February 21st until March 2nd at the Halliwell Theatre.   The production is suitable for audiences aged 16+ and tickets can be booked by contacting Heather Thomas by emailing heather.thomas@uwtsd.ac.uk or calling 01267 676929.  Tickets cost £5 or £3 for concessions.

Earthquakes in London

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