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The Brian Roberts Award

We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2019 Brian Roberts Award: MA Applied Theatre student Holly Wallis!

The Brian Roberts Award is given in recognition of excellence in the analysis of practice, awarded to a student studying on the MA in Applied Theatre: Drama in Educational, Social and Community Settings. Brian Roberts was a much-loved lecturer in the Theatre & Performance Department at Goldsmiths, and this award, of £500 is given in his memory, by his family, to whom we are very grateful.

Some words from Holly:

“I am delighted to receive the  Brian Roberts Award for a piece of work I presented in 2019, during the first year of my MA in Applied Theatre. Following my placement on London Bubble’s Charting the Mayflower project, a community play exploring the history of the Mayflower’s voyage in 1620.   A group of  ‘Saints and Strangers’ sailed to their now memorialised place as founders of the United States of America. In my presentation, I explored the impact of stories, narrative and the production of knowledge on how we interpret and live in the world, in the societies that have been written around us.

The Mayflower sailed 400 years ago, and is broadly marked as the start of a colonising process that would turn London into a global metropolis.  At the time of its departure, English was barely spoken in the whole of England. And here we stand, 400 years later, suspended in a liminal life, whereby one of the many many effects of a globalised world has been the rapid spread of a virus that has ground us all to a halt.  I can’t help but wonder how narratives on the coronavirus are going to be written, told and retold for political and social purpose. Who will emerge as the winners? How will lessons be learnt, or systematically erased? Which character will your Granddaughter play, when they partake in theatre project aimed at exploring the 2020 pandemic that froze the world?

I’d like to thank Brian Robert’s family for this wonderful award. My first year on the Applied Theatre course at Goldsmiths was truly the funnest, most creative, explorative and inspiring time from which I have made some beautiful personal and professional friendships.”

Congratulations to Holly, who is now completing the 2nd year of her MA, and working, remotely, at Jackson’s Lane Arts Centre.

Holly Wallis

MA Applied Theatre: Launching into 2020

The Spring term for MA Applied Theatre students begins with an exciting five weeks working with visiting artists who bring song, podcast performance, puppetry, dance, autobiographical writing, adapted Shakespeare, Headphone Verbatim and installation. The aim is to expand the range of ways we work and push us to access all of the creative methodologies we can – it’s easy to get stuck in familiar ways of working. Given that our International MA group are already skilled and imaginative, this is a bit of a festival.

But there’s another layer to the classes. Socially engaged theatre processes are deeply relational; we are always working with others in one way or another, and building relationship becomes a core part of what we’re doing. Different art forms open up different ways in which we need because we work with groups who have a wide variety of vulnerabilities and possibilities.

Understanding how an art form works in the room, in action, can help us to think what’s going to work best for a particular group at a particular time. Looking through this lens it’s possible to see the way in which, for example, singing together grows a strong sense of community, but no one needs to chat or to be in physical contact. Dance involves carefully supported touch, getting your hands dirty making a papier-mâché puppet with a group of other people allows for lots of informal chat, improvising a scene sharpens your attention to others. The shapes in the room, the opportunities for separateness and togetherness, the guided and the informal conversation…..the possibilities are endless.

– Sue Mayo

Introducing Dr Adam Alston, new Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Theatre

Headshot of Dr Adam Alston

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Department of Theatre and Performance at Goldsmiths as a Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Theatre. This place is steeped in histories of radicalism, and I like the fact that these histories are so present around campus – from its buildings, to murals etched on walls and posters announcing a programme of talks that signal so much about what a place of work and learning should be, or could be. It’s no secret that the road ahead for the arts, Higher Education and social justice is throwing up a number of significant challenges, but what the vibrancy of critical and political thought and action around campus signals to me is, for want of a better word, hope… So in spite of those challenges, it makes me excited about working here – about finding shared points of interest and commitment, but also about exploring spaces for progressive disagreement and debate.

I’m moving to Goldsmiths after 6 years of working at the University of Surrey – firstly as a Lecturer and then as a Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies. I learned a lot very quickly there about how institutions “think”, about how priorities are set, change and are reset in response to evolving and precarious material circumstances, and about how institutions tend to view and understand accomplishment and progress. But the most important thing I learned is that what matters “on the ground” has nothing to do with abstraction. What matters are the people you work with on a day-to-day basis: your immediate colleagues at all levels of their career, and students (for me this is a key characteristic of teaching in HE – working with students, not for them).

In terms of what I hope to explore here in the years ahead – well, it’s a few things. I’ve been looking at immersive theatre and performance for over a decade now, and have published a range of articles and a couple of books in this area, all of which draw the political into sharp focus. I plan on pushing some of this work further by focusing on a new set of challenges faced by companies that formed after the 2008 financial crash and the introduction of austerity measures that ensued in the 2010s. However, the next “big project” is looking at the speeding up of the world: at an accelerating pace of life, the intensification of productivity, hyperconsumerism, and the effects of all of these things on health, wellbeing and quality of life. I’m particularly interested in how contemporary theatre makers are reacting by stretching processes of acceleration to points of messy, trashy and anarchic excess – to points of decadence. This focus on decadence, especially, has already been fostering some great working relationships with colleagues over in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, and I look forward to finding out where else it might take me in the months and years ahead.”

Dr Adam Alston

Meet Your TaP Student Representatives!

Happy New Year from the Theatre and Performance Blog! We hope you all enjoyed your winter break and are ready to return to your studies feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

As the new term approaches, it’s a great time for students to familiarise themselves with a few of their Department Representatives. Here are Grace, Yasmin and Ariel to give an insight into what they do…


Ariel, Grace and Yasmine all smile at the camera

(Left to right) Ariel, Grace and Yasmine

Hey everyone, we are three of your Theatre and Performance Student Representatives!

For undergraduate students, Department Reps Grace Arber (garbe001@gold.ac.uk) and Yasmin Sherif (ysher001@gold.ac.uk), act as points of contact between students and the departmental staff.

“We aim to resolve student queries and concerns to improve their university experience. Throughout the year, we will sit in on a variety of forums, committee, and board meetings. This allows us to voice student concerns to senior staff.”

As Student Accessibility and Inclusion Rep, part of Ariel Albuquerque’s (acard001@gold.ac.uk) role is to speak to students who have Reasonable Adjustments for Study and Assessments (RASAs).

“During meetings with staff, I communicate the concerns and queries of those with RASAs. It is my job to ensure that these students have all the tools to succeed in their degrees. I also work alongside academic staff to ensure that the diversity of the student body is reflected in the curriculum. We work to encourage the inclusion of a diverse range of themes, writers and performance makers.”

This year, a huge focus for us Reps is to create a greater TaP student community. We are working on developing a TaP buddy system, as well as creating communal spaces for students to meet and chat.

Please feel free to email us with any issues or ideas you may have!

MA Performance Making

The MA in Performance Making at Goldsmiths is approaching its twentieth birthday. The programme provides a laboratory for international students at all stages of their career to gather and work together on new performance. This means that recent graduates might be studying alongside mid-career artists who wish to change their practice or early career artists seeking to advance their practice from a research perspective. All students accepted are looking for their own artistic voice.

The discipline has become so hybrid across the globe that we are finding applications from dance, theatre, live art, fine art, film, architecture, music and even philosophy coming our way; and, increasingly artists from all continents. Study on the programme is both interdisciplinary and intercultural. On the programme you study space, the body, scenography, technologies and composition. You create original work for studio, theatre, gallery or site. The programme is taught by distinguished international practitioners. We avoid a house style, favouring, rather, establishing an ethical context in which original work is conceived and created. Study is research-driven, students being invited to experiment, test new forms, and step out of their comfort zone in a supportive environment. Studies culminate in a Final Show Festival in the summer that is produced by the students themselves. You can study full-time or part-time.

The programme has special links with the sector including Live Art Development Agency (LADA) and ArtsAdmin, Toynbee Studios with whom we run a prize mentoring scheme BANNER.

Our graduates – many of whom are award-winning – are working across the world as creators, directors, film makers, project directors, cultural leaders, festival directors, artistic directors,  academics, applied theatre practitioners and as producers and managers across all aspects of the sector. Several each year go on to study for PhD.

Entry is by online application, and applicants are interviewed on Skype. We look forward to hearing from you.

We are meeting frequently, and we keep on expressing how wonderful this year was.” – Graduate 2019

 

With warm regards,

Professor Anna Furse

Convenor of MA Performance Making

 

 

Associate Artist 2019-2020

Hey folks!

I’m Liv and the new Associate Artist for 2019-2020. I graduated with my BA in Drama and Theatre Arts this summer and I am overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude to have been awarded this incredible opportunity to have my work supported by the department over the next academic year.

Liv Neaves

As an Associate Artist, I have the privilege of developing work with the support of the Department, which includes help with marketing, publicity, funding and mentoring from tutors. This award will help me take the next steps on my journey as a London based theatre-maker, offering guidance and encouragement through the transition from a student to a professional creative. As an Associate Artist, I also offer support to the current BA students in the Department of Theatre and Performance, through facilitating workshops, offering creative advice on projects, and also just being a general helping hand!

I am also enthralled to announce that my solo Theatre Making 3 show, Swarm, has been programmed as part the Handle With Care festival at Camden People’s Theatre – a theatre and performance festival dedicated to new work exploring trigger warning, no-platforming and the culture of the so-called ‘snowflake’. For those that missed Swarm at the Tap Out Festival this summer, Swarm is an experimental, dark comedy that explores the connection between toxic expressions of white privilege and the behaviour of flies. Using characters, stand-up and spoken word, Swarm subverts the language we use to dehumanise migrants to re-tell a far more evocative reality.

Theatre Making 3 show Swarm

Being an Associate Artist at Goldsmiths has enabled me to feel confident with continuing with my solo work, offering me the reassurance of resources, whilst also pushing me to achieve the most I can with my year as an Associate Artist. Tickets are currently available for Swarm at Camden People’s Theatre, Monday 28 October, 7:30 pm.

I’m really looking forward to the year ahead, both as a creative myself and also to witness the developments of current students in the department. I would like to send a warm welcome to the new cohort of first years, and also a shout out to the second and third years – I can’t wait to see all your achievements in your TM2 and TM3 performances. If you ever need a hand with anything, or would just like to have a friendly chat, feel free to email me.

Wishing everyone a great start to the term!

Twitter: @liv_ello

Instagram: @liv_ello

 

New HoD Ben Levitas’ Welcome Note

I’d like to welcome everyone to the Department for the New Academic Year – students new and old, under-and-postgraduate, BA, MA and PhD, as well as the hard-working staff who keep the show on the road (including myself). To our freshers: congratulations on achieving your place here at Goldsmiths. To those of you who are returning: it will be good to see you again – and keep up the hard work.

As the new Head of Theatre and Performance, I’m looking forward to working with you all to make the Department (and the World) a better place. If that sounds a little facile, please take it in earnest. I’m lucky to be stepping into the position at a time of positive change for College, with a new Warden, Professor Frances Corner, taking up the reins. One of our new goals is the greening of Goldsmiths, to make our University environment sustainable.

That is only one example, given the uncertain political future and the pressures facing education, of the ways in which it will be important for us to act together: to celebrate what we do well and to find solutions where we face challenges. That means embracing a kind of citizenship – and also maybe friendship, too.  After all, what does the beginning of Term mean, if not the sizing up of a task, and the making of new friends, and the meeting of old?

– Ben

BA Comedy and Satire’s New Course Convenor

Our new BA Comedy and Satire programme, now entering its third year, has a new convenor. After teaching on the course for the past year, Diane Messias will now be stepping up!

Diane is highly-experienced in theatre, radio, TV and film. She is a writer, director, producer, script editor, script consultant and performer, specialising in comedy and drama. She has written for and worked with many of the top household names in British comedy and theatre, including Rory Bremner, Harry Hill, Alistair McGowan, Ian Hislop, Richard Ingrams, Paul Merton, Richard Wilson, Michael Hordern, Annette Crosbie, Alan Coren, Willie Rushton, Andrew Sachs and Barry Took. At the BBC, she wrote and produced multiple series of The News Quiz, and directed and produced the first radio episodes of One Foot In The Grave.

We hope you will join us in wishing Diane all the best in her new role. We can’t wait to see what she has in store!

Diane Messias profile picture

TAP Out Festival 2019

Over three weeks back in May, our third year BA Drama & Theatre Arts students self-organised and performed in our annual TAP Out Festival, which brings together an eclectic mix of performance work from the Theatre Making 3 Projects module. Now, we’re taking a look at a couple of our newly graduated students’ work and reflecting on the success of their final performance at Goldsmiths.

This year’s TAP Out Festival included a programme more diverse, more innovative and more experimental than we’ve ever seen. From devised performance to live art, installation, new writing and solo performance, each project was the result of a critically informed, research-led performance making process undertaken by our talented and dedicated students.

A figure wearing a yellow top, pink trousers and a decorative eye mask crouches down looking at a picture in a frame

April Spiers in Opia

One of the many standout performances was April Spiers’ ‘Opia’, a solo clown, mask and movement piece. Opia refers to “the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable”. The foundations of April’s performance were built on audience interaction and eye contact as the trickster-like figure explored what it is that makes a space comfortable.

She explains, “I wanted to explore the temporality of ‘home’ and the emotions we associate with it, as well as the feeling when moving on and seeking comfort in new environments.” Slinking around the stage to music from Mac Demarco, The Smiths and Oasis, April’s character unloaded various props out of his suitcase, trying to fashion his own concept of home.

Daisy Moloney in Do You Hear the Apocalypse

Daisy Maloney’s ‘Do You Hear the Apocalypse’ was a minimalist solo performance. Daisy’s script followed a deaf woman who had survived the apocalypse and convinced herself that a mannequin was her husband to cope with being alone and unable to hear the world around her.

As Daisy’s mum is transitioning from being partially to completely deaf, she wanted her piece to be completely disability accessible. “I had my script running throughout on a projector which told people to a T the dialogue and my actions, so it worked as subtitles,” Daisy explains.

TAP Out marked the end of the creative journey that our students have taken through their time at Goldsmiths. After three years of devoted study, we are so proud of our BA Drama and Theatre Arts degree finalists for putting together such a dynamic programme of performances.

As summarised by Daisy, “The experience was, of course, stressful at times but so liberating. The course consists of a new profound art that pushes you as a person. A constant creative clash of themes and ideas that ultimately reinvents you as a person.”

The George Wood Theatre Refurbishment

In 2018, we opened the doors to the new and improved George Wood Theatre. A year on, we take a closer look at the refurbishment and consider how the Theatre and Performance department has transformed.

The history

The George Wood Theatre has a rich history. It was first built in the 1850s for the Royal Naval College and has withstood two World Wars. Whilst still preserving trace memories of its former identity by incorporating many original structures, such as the intricate roof detail and raw brick walls, The George Wood Theatre is now located firmly in the contemporary. After spending decades in a space that was not fit for 21st-century practice, we now boast an exciting suite of facilities which has revolutionised our teaching practice. With this being the first year that final performances have taken place in the new theatre, our staff, students, technicians and audiences will all attest to amazing difference that the refurbishment has made to our department.

An old picture in black and white shows Goldsmiths in the early 20th century

The chapel, now The George Wood Theatre, can be seen to the left

The spaces

Whereas the old theatre could only function in an end-on configuration, the stage can now function end-on, in the round or traverse. With the restoration of the fantastic chapel windows, the space can transform into an atmospheric daylight space, which is extremely rare in theatre architecture.

The tension wire grid above the theatre not only allows for superb lighting but also has a central opening from which students have dropped or flown things onto the stage during performances. With the new-found flexibility of The George Wood Theatre, our students can respond creatively to its many options.

The refurbishment also created two other state-of-the-art studios. Behind the theatre, the new black box studio offers a space consonant with many such studios across the world.

Above, our new sprung floor dance studio provides a bright, clean and movement-conducive teaching, rehearsal and performance space.

Future opportunities

We owe a massive thank you to the dedicated team of architects, surveyors and engineers who, whilst retaining its architectural charm, helped to transform The George Wood Theatre. As the potential of the hidden volume was maximised, three areas were created out of one. A bespoke, user-friendly space was produced where many future practitioners and researchers can nurture and master their craft. It is where generations of students will make memories, learn, and go on to leave indelible marks on our live culture.