Throughout the year, students on all years of the Musical Theatre BA at Edge Hill have been given numerous opportunities to see shows, take part in workshops, and be involved in new projects, all of which give us an edge in our field and allow us to explore other areas of theatre and the arts that we might not have otherwise discovered. Below I will talk about a few of my favourites from the year.
Pippin – The Musical at Hope Mill Theatre
This trip was one of my favourites for many different reasons, and not just because the show was fantastic. The trip took place just four days into term, (the Thursday of Fresher’s Week) and was a great opportunity for out group to bond and get to know each other as we chatted on the bus, and shared opinions of the show. We also got to meet the cast after the show, and even had a workshop day with the lead actor a few weeks after.
The Em Project – October reading Week.
During the time that we were given off timetable as the first sort of ‘half term’ break, the Musical Theatre students were given the chance to be a part of a project- learning, recording and shooting a music video in Liverpool for a brand new musical, called Em- by the amazing Benjamin Till. This was an amazing experience that we could take part in as it meant we could meet and mingle with a professional in our line of work, and get to know people in the other years on our course. We spent four days learning and perfecting the vocals and choreography for the song. We then recorded our vocals in parts in the Creative Edge building on campus, which was a wonderful experience, but the most fun was definitely the day we spent filming on location in Liverpool, in full 1960’s costume, hair, and makeup. We started out the day in the infamous Cavern Club, filming the end of the music video, and then travelled around the city to get different shots in different places. All in all, although a very cold a long day, it was a lot of fun and that certainly shows in the video, which premiered last week.
Hey all, I hope you’re well and enjoying your week!
University is great for many reasons; it’s an experience you can’t have anywhere else, you meet new friends, you learn how to live independently, and most of all, you build the experience you need to get yourself along your career path. Edge Hill has really helped me with this, and I thought it would be nice to share why and what they’ve done for me with you.
As a Performing Arts student, I came to Edge Hill wanted to expand my experience and skills, but also make links which will help me in the future. I didn’t expect to gain such a range of experience as I have done!
In my first year, the modules I studied were Introducing Performance, Visual Theatre, Devising Performance, Physical Theatre, Multimedia Performance and Performance Skills. In the Introducing Performance and Devising Performance modules, I learnt skills and theories that helped me understand Performance and how it is created, which was really eye opening as a Performer.
In the Visual Theatre, Physical Theatre and Multimedia Performance modules, I learnt some great skills to use within a performance. In Visual Theatre, we were taught how to create puppets that were thigh high, and even had a workshop with a professional puppeteer who taught us how, in our teams, we can work together to move our puppet to make it look like a real-life breathing creature. It helped me to understand not only how to puppeteer a puppet as a group, but how to work in a group in general so that a performance is as authentic and flowing as possible. In Physical Theatre, I not only learnt new ways of creating Physical Theatre, but also got introduced to new practitioners and performance groups that work within the genre, which was really exciting to see. And in Multimedia Performance, I was taught how to use projection, sound and lighting alongside physical performance to create an atmospheric and all-encompassing performance. Not only this too, I also learnt how to use the equipment, something that I used to just leave to the Technicians to do. It’s always great to know how to use the equipment you need to work with yourself in case you cannot get someone to help you with it.
Our puppet based on one of the Where The Wild Things Are
My class- my PA family!
In the Performance Skills module, I learnt many different skills, such as Mask work, clowning and juggling. I had always wanted to be able to juggle more than 2 juggling balls, however, I never knew the technique. The module was planned out so that there were workshops on each different skill, then you decided what you wanted to focus on for your practical assessment, so I chose juggling. The way that the module was planned and the fact the teacher was skilled in juggling himself really helped me get a hang of it, and by the end of the module I could juggle quite well! Not only did this module help me pick up a skill, but it also led to some great experiences that I can put on my CV. The first was a Circus Intensive with an actual Circus company, Circus Sensible. If you want to read about this experience, you can read my blog post on it below:
As well as this intensive, I got the chance to teach the local kids of Ormskirk circus tricks for the Gingerbread Festival, an annual festival held in Ormskirk Town Centre.
Throughout the year, I also took Pole Fitness, Aerial Hoop and Aerial Silk lessons outside of the University. I did this with a company called Inversion Pole Fitness, and it started out as a curiosity for what it would be like to do Aerial Fitness, then became something I truly love! I not only learnt a new skill I can put on my performer’s CV, but I found a sport that I enjoy and it made my life much healthier!
Being at Edge Hill also gave me the confidence I needed to apply to be represented by a casting agency, which is a huge step towards my goal to act on screen.
So that’s everything that last year at Edge Hill gave me! I’m sure you can agree it’s a lot, and I can’t be happier with the amount of skills I can offer now as a Performer. My next blog post will be focusing on what I’ve achieved so far this year, so keep an eye out for that!
Throughout the year, Edge Hill University hosts a number of public lectures. These are can be in subjects such as my own, Biological Sciences, or others, such as Education or History.
Recently, my personal tutor and department head of biology, Dr Paul Ashton, gave his inaugural lecture titled “Contemplate an Entangled Bank” after the opening to the final paragraph of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Paul’s lecture was on the culmination of his work to date, from lime trees to sedges.
The Biosciences Department also hosts research seminars typically at lunchtime, as well as public lectures in the evening. Previous research seminars from this term were on biogeography (the origin of the Lusitanian flora), a rare genetic disease (Fanconi Anaemia), and how plant-atmosphere interactions shine a light on the origin of flowering plants. Although the schedule for 2018’s public lectures is not yet released, check back HERE for details! I attended Dr André Antunes’ talk, “Living on the Edge: Life in high salinity environments” last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Also of note for the department is “ENTO’18: The Good The Bad and the Ugly” – an annual entomological conference which this year is being hosted at Edge Hill University during the 29th to the 31st of August.
The Geography department also holds public lectures in the Geosciences building, the most recent two being a lecture on coastal vulnerability to climate change and rising sea-levels, and perceptions of “Globalisation, Sustainability and Culture” in regard to “the Identities of old/new Empires and their colonies.”
Conferences and talks are held by the Faculty of Health and Social Care in their own building, as well as the Tech Hub and the Manchester campus – particularly for open days, where the Operating Department Practice programme is held. Conferences are also held by the faculty, such as the Digital Ecosystem event.
Education students have an interesting research seminar scheduled for early 2018 on January 11th – The Teaching and Learning of Britishness and Fundamental British Values, by Dr Sadia Habib, who has also published a book on the topic. Past seminars and lectures have included teaching in South Africa, lesson study, and educational responses for the future.
The Department of Performing Arts also has had many events throughout the year, two workshops of which were on Mindfulness and Butoh in Dance Movement Therapy. Another inaugural lecture was held by Professor Stephen Davismoon earlier this month.
Finally, students of English, History and Creative Writing have enjoyed lectures on The Politics of the Neo-Victorian Freak Show, how the illustrations of Sherlock Holmes affected the success of Doyle’s success, and “what it meant to be a girl in the late Victorian period and how women editors played a role in shaping the modern girl,” in a paper reading by Dr Beth Rodgers.
As you can see, Edge Hill University offers numerous lectures across the board of courses! I’ve found that attending these talks for my subject has allowed me to get an idea of which topics I find enjoyable both inside and outside the curriculum.
I made a post recently about the Open Days at Edge Hill, and I thought I would shed some light on the audition days that the Performing Arts department hold for prospective students!
The department do this so they can get an idea of the performers they are expecting to bring onto the course. And I know, the word audition usually brings nerves to the surface, but it’s a very casual and lovely experience! My audition for the BA (Hons) Performing Arts was more like I was taking a workshop on physical and multimedia theatre- we did some movement work for the first bit of the audition, then we did some work with projection and using different materials to project onto. I met performers from all over, got to know two of the staff members at the Uni and most of all, had fun! At the very end, there was a short writing task where I was asked two questions about performance, but they aren’t looking for right or wrong answers with this part of the audition; they’re simply looking at how you personally write to get an idea of how you’ll find the written work on the courses!
Again, the auditions are so laid back, and all the movement and projection work we did was about us showing how we work in a group and how we bring our creativity to the table. It was super fun! For my course, we didn’t have to prepare anything, but for course like Musical Theatre you might have to prepare a song, but they don’t ask you to prepare anything extreme!
Another great thing about these audition, as I’m sure some of you interested in Performance Arts will have come across the opposite of, is that you don’t have to pay for the audition. Conservatories and some other establishments charge for auditions, but at Edge Hill the team believe that if you want to audition, you should be able to free of an extra cost! When I was looking for places to go, I looked at Conservatoires, but I could only afford to audition to one, so being able to audition at Edge Hill for free took so much weight off my shoulders and has really meant in the long run that I’ve been able to go to the place most suited to me and gain skills that’ll help me and my career massively despite not having the money for auditions.
Once you’ve applied for an audition, you are informed of the time and date and if you do need to prepare anything, and upon arriving there are people there to make sure you know where you’re going. The whole process is handled perfectly so that you can focus on doing the best you can!
If you’ve got an audition coming up soon, the best advice I can give you is to be yourself. Use your creativity and your personality and don’t be scared to follow through on ideas you get in the audition. It just shows the staff how creative you are as a performer! Also, try not to be too nervous. The teachers are lovely and they try not to make it seem like an audition. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’ll be something you remember from your time with Edge Hill, like it is for me!
But one of the things I haven’t mentioned yet are the amazing opportunities within Liverpool to experience all kinds of the best and bravest theatre and music! There’s the Liverpool Empire Theatre, which hosts the likes of War Horse and Circus of Horrors, the Philharmonic Hall, which hosts the likes of Islands in the Stream and Jake Bugg, and even more. One of the best things about Edge Hill being close to Liverpool, a well known city in Britain, is that you get to involve yourself in this amazing culture.
Not only are there these shows for those interested in theatre, but there are also always some amazing independent performances going on too from local creatives. I had the chance to see one of these today, so I wanted to give you an idea of what is on offer. The performance I saw was Rachael Mutch’s 96/27; a harrowing account of the Hillsborough Disaster, its effects on the survivors and the media coverage, through the eyes of one of the survivors.
Mutch brilliantly used a mixture of video projection of the footage from the day the disaster happened and dialogue based on a real life experience of being in the standing area of the grounds where the awful crushing happened. The whole performance was very immersive; firstly, the performance took part in one of the changing rooms in the sports centre of the University of Liverpool, a very small space with astro turf on parts of the floor and scarves hanging from the hooks around the room, which made it feel very personal, everything Mutch said felt very direct and made the experiences she was explaining hit me ten times harder. There were moments were she would hand scarves to the audience or hold a hand, and the atmosphere this created and influenced was one of the strongest I’ve seen in a performance.
One of the things I loved so much about the performance was how it focused on not just what happened on 15th April 1989, but the media and its impact on the survivor, quoting and projecting some of the disrespectful things that were said about the Liverpool fans at the match and showing the anger the survivor feels at being portrayed in such a way across the UK. Mutch also focused on the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that followed the survivor she was giving a voice to and probably a lot of those who were caught in the events that took place that day, putting across the important message to the audience that, although these survivors weren’t physically hurt in the way that those who sadly died were, they were and might still be mentally suffering.
96/27 is an excellent biographical piece which focuses on a local event that took 27 years to get the justice for the victims that it deserved. Performances like this are what create much needed and important conversations in those who see them and in society. One of the amazing things about this particular performance, also, is that Mutch is a graduate of Edge Hill and actually developed this from her dissertation piece, so it goes to show that the work here at Edge Hill really does lead to amazing places.
One of the amazing things about this company in particular is that they are all either Edge Hill alumni (graduates) or lecturers at Edge Hill. I had the opportunity to speak to them all about what their experiences were like and what Edge Hill has given them as performers. I first asked them to introduce themselves and the character they played:
RM: Rachael Mutch, playing the character of Holly.
KHC: Kylie Heron-Cadwallader, playing the role of Susan.
SR: Sam Rushton, playing the role of Sam.
LAD: Lisa Adams-Davey, I play Doctor W and the Vicar, and I am the Director.
JB: James Burrows, and I play the character of Phil.
DHJ: Danielle Holland-Jones, stage manager.
EC: Elric Cadwallader, I play the character of CP.
CR: Christopher Roy, I played Richard.
CF: And Cat Formby, playing Mo/Double Gusset.
Rhiannon Thomas (me): Ok, right, so the first thing I wanted to ask is; you tackle really sensitive subjects, obviously, not just for this show, I’ve seen for your show They Shoot Dogs, that’s obviously another sensitive subject. What was your main motivation to create such pieces and do you ever hit a block in the creative process whilst assuring the topics are handled correctly?
LAD: Well, the main motivation has been a research initiative, in the first instance, then from the initial research initiative we created the company with a view to tackling subjects, such as… well, with a view to tackling mental health, and we feel that the work that we put on is politically charged, it’s relevant, it needs to be heard, and yes it’s very sensitive, as you say, very sensitive… but necessary in order to support people, to generate an understanding as to what it’s like to have a mental health condition. So, that’s the main thing really, was a research initiative of mine, and I’ve taught all these wonderful people, and we work together on relevant topics, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Clinical Depression, Suicide… Often topics, well, they are topics that are surrounded by stigma, and it’s about getting rid of that stigma and saying ‘hey, you know what, this is real, people do take their own lives, people do suffer with depression, people do suffer with anxiety, bipolar disorder, and so on and so forth, post-traumatic stress disorder, and this is reality’. And it’s relevant, it’s important. And it’s also to say, you know, it’s ok to talk about it, it’s important that we do talk about it, cause so much is swept under the carpet and we don’t want that.
RT: Ok, bit more of a trivial question, describe the Rose Theatre and Edge Hill Arts Centre in 3 words, cause I’ve seen that most of you are graduates…
EC: In three words?
EC: It’s our home.
LAD: It’s our home!
RT: Ok, so again, because a lot of you are graduates…
LAD: All of them are graduates.
RT: Ah ok, all of you are graduates [laughter]… do you think the courses here and the University gives you what you need to follow a creative career path?
CR: Damn skippy it does.
SR: I think it’s hard to put a definitive answer on that question, cause courses are ever fluctuating and ever changing, from my personal perspective it gave me the most amazing grounding in who I am as a practitioner, who I am as a person, and it gave me everything I needed to be an independent, forward-thinking, critical analyst. It gave me all the skills that I needed to take my own practice and take my own place in the world and my own place in the industry and it gave me a great springboard for that as well as making magic… This place is an amazing place; the supportive tutors, the facilities, it’s ever developing, ever expanding and I think in an industry that’s ever developing and ever expanding that’s really important from a University course and a University as well.
EC: Considering how big the course is now and how it expanded, like all the different things you can do, you can do musical theatre and you can do all these other things that weren’t available when we were first coming here, we’re so shocked that you can come here and you just say ‘I’m an ex-student’ they will give you a room and say you can rehearse in there, you can use the resources…
LAD: It’s very generous.
EC: So, like, they’ll do anything for alumni, for current students, they’ll bend over backwards to say ‘we’ll look at the set’ and, you know, where you are, and the techies are fantastic.
LAD: I think what’s been really interesting within this project is even though this is an alumni company, we’ve been employed as a professional company to come in and produce this work, on top of that we have had the facilities to rehearse in, and I know I’m a member of staff, but it is a privilege to have that, because actually it’s very expensive to hire rehearsal rooms, and technicians and, you know, all the things that we have here, and it’s a real privilege, and these guys have put in an inordinate amount of time to make it happen as well.
CF: Can I just say something about the beginning of that question? When you said, and what I find interesting, I did Dance, Drama and Physical Theatres here, and then I went on to Drama School, which was more of a Conservatoire training, and the course was an MA in Professional Acting, and what I was surprised at; there was nothing that came up in that course that I hadn’t been told about, studied, or researched, or touched on, or done a workshop on, you know? There were things that we explored further in voice and that kind of stuff, but there was nothing that I wasn’t aware of, I didn’t feel on a back foot about anything, and there was a massive contrast for me in the quality of the tutors here to the tutors there. Whilst I was there in that 15 months, there were 2 tutors from here came to do workshops at that drama school and I’d been banging on about this place to the point of boring everybody, and I was delighted that two of the tutors, the physical theatre tutor and a dance tutor, both came there to deliver workshops, and I’d banged on about how great they were and I don’t think my peers there were expecting to be blown away. But they were, and the contrast in the teaching, the quality, the workshop just stuck out like a sore thumb.
SR: Yeah, I’d agree with Cathy, I went to drama school to do my Masters in London as well, and everything Cathy’s just said was exactly the same as when I went to drama school to do my MA after being here. It just gave me everything that I needed before I even got there, and when I got there it meant that I could just run, and two of the tutors here also went to Central School of Speech and Drama, where I was, to give workshops or be actual lecturers there as well, so this place is really rich.
LAD: Yeah, I think the one thing that we do hold dear, I mean, as a lecturer here, the one thing that we hold dear is the fact that we actually educate thinking practitioners, and that’s really important, and that’s why when you’re putting work on such as this, I do expect my cast to think and to analyse, and to evaluate; what is it we’re doing and why are we doing it… and they’ve had that from day dot, they’ve had that from when they walked in the door at Edge Hill. I remember… Sam and Elric were in the first cohort [I taught], I remember asking Elric, you know, what made you choose Edge Hill? Why didn’t you go to Drama School? And he said I specifically chose Edge Hill because I wanted an education, I didn’t want a Conservatoire training, I wanted an education, I wanted to think about my subject and really analyse it. It’s not good enough, I don’t think, just to be able to perform; you have to do all the other stuff as well, and really that’s invaluable to here, I believe, and to what we provide. I suppose it’s that’s very immodest for me to say that as a lecturer here [laughter], but it’s something that we do hold dear.
CR: I’ll back that up with; I agree with everything that Lisa has just said.
KHC: Yeah I agree [laughter]. Going back to your question, not only has it helped in, you know, a creative setting, but I work as a legal secretary as well, so giving you the confidence to get up on stage also gives you the confidence to interact with people in every day life, and they’re the people that we’re trying to portray when we’re onstage. We’re not portraying, like, an airy-fairy, fluffy version of life, especially with this piece, we’re looking at what makes people tick. So, in my everyday life, I work in a solicitors, so I get to see everything, you know, from birth, life, marriage, death, everything. So, it’s nice to be part of life at the same time and have those social skills to talk to people, which I’ve received from here. I’ve got that confidence from training as an actor, and then it sort of gives back; anything that I see in life, I can take that in like a sponge and portray that on the stage, so these skills are transferrable as well, cause not only do we learn about our craft, about acting, performing… to portray the human race, you have to understand about human psychology, philosophy, theology… so not only do you open up your skill-set as an actor through creative tools, you also touch upon other areas of education, so not picking on people who go “drama, that’s where you just run around the room”…
LAD: “Jazz hands!” [laughter]
KHC: It’s not just about that, we have to understand the human condition…
SR: And how to connect with another human being, fundamentally, how you connect, and get a reaction out of another human being, whatever their reaction is. Going back to Lisa’s answer about why we do this, it’s because it is an awareness, it is opening a dialogue, it is, when I was speaking to yourself before, about using theatre as a catalyst to make you think what you’ve got from that, and everybody’s opinions are valid, but that fundamental connection is really, really important.
LAD: I think also going back to what Kylie said there, you know, one of the things that we do focus on [is] employability skills, so this company itself offers employability to certain graduates who are appropriate for the company. When we did [They Shoot] Dogs I did an audition, two days of auditions to get the cast together, and then from that cast and that production, Confiança was born, and we’ve done a few other things since then. This is our second major production, but we have done other projects. And so it’s kind of… those employability skills that you were talking about, that are developed as a student, they’re absolutely invaluable, in any walk of life, not just on the stage as you say Kylie, in any walk of life; if you’re a lecturer, just as a person… You know, there’s a few lecturers in and amongst us, a few people working in different professions, etc.
CR: I just wanna put out there, I’m now also teaching Drama, and I certainly would not be doing that if it weren’t for Edge Hill. And even aspects of my own teaching practise I may have, I’m gonna use the word ‘stolen’ [laughter], I have done lessons that Lisa taught me.
RM: I have too.
CR: Yeah, Rach does as well, we all do, we all…
RM: And James’ lessons, I take them all! [laughter]
CR: But, you know, and it’s that sort of thing, the fact that I’m able to go ‘right, I learnt that here at this time, with Lisa as a lecturer or someone else as a lecturer’, and I’ve been able to then transfer that and repeat it, it’s meaning it’s stayed with me, and that’s what I want my students to be like, I want them to think for themselves, I want them to do their own research, I want them to be actively engaged with whatever text that they have, whether it be something that they’re devising or something that has been written down for centuries, I want them to have the experience that I had here, but a couple of years early.
LAD: Yeah, I think also, one thing that I feel does transfer is the passion for the subject that Edge Hill has. All the subjects actually, the lecturers, we’re very, very passionate about what we do, and hopefully that transfers to the students, and then they go out and they go ‘yeah, this is really exciting! We’re really excited about this, so let’s do some more!’.
EC: I’d also like to say, as well, that not only the content, but the people you meet, it’s kind of testament to that way in which we work collaboratively, that years after we’ve graduated, in different years as well, you meet people on your course here that you can collaborate with, and that you can work professionally with in the future as well, and I think that’s important.
DHJ: I think, going back to your initial question about the courses, it’s the fact that, because I studied Musical Theatre, I would never think when I graduated that this would be the sort of thing that I would be doing, but that’s because Edge Hill makes you transferrable, skill-wise, as an actor, performer… whatever you want to do, they will facilitate what you want to do, and they focus on what you really want to do on your outcome, like what kind of journey you want to take, because it’s different for everyone. People take years out before they even think about going back in to doing it, and that’s what I thought I was gonna do, and I’ve literally just graduated and I’ve gone straight back into doing the work that I love doing, and it was a privilege, but also it’s the fact that you can just go straight back into it and it’s not the fact of you have to go somewhere else, or you have to do your Master, no offence [laughter], and it’s kind of being able to go ‘do you know what, I don’t have to box myself off as a performer in one specific area, I can be versatile’, and that’s what Edge Hill, I think, is great for personally.
SR: Yeah, just to add to that before we actually move on to the next question, when I was here, I graduated, well myself and Elric, graduated in 2008, and when I was doing my dissertation here, there was no Aerial course, there was no Musical Theatre, there was not much, there was Drama, Dance and Physical Theatre, straight Drama and then a few people on a straight Dance course…
LAD: It didn’t stop you doing Aerial in your dissertation!
SR: No, for my dissertation, I wanted different levels, and I wanted to do some Aerial work, and nobody had ever heard of, well, nobody had ever done anything like that here before, and so I went to Lisa, and Lisa went to the appropriate channels, and we had discussions, and because it was relevant to my practise and it was relevant to my dissertation, the department got in one silk, a rig, and everything that I needed to be able to have Aerial performance as a part of my dissertation, and then I also went and did some workshops and training so I was safe to do it. Following on from that, they then did an Aerial module and they’re still doing it now, so even though I came to them before that was even anything that they offered at all, they gave me and provided me with what I needed because it was relevant to my practise.
LAD: One of the things that the company have also done, that maybe you’re not aware of, that actually Edge Hill have supported, they’re still invited in to do things and to work collaboratively, for example with [the] Faculty of Health, we’ve done television masterclasses with a television director and a casting director, and we’ve collaborated with media on that, so on so forth, so opportunities are given to our alumni, and also one of our guys who was filming tonight [there were some people filming the opening show on the Thursday] is a Media student, so that’s an employability opportunity for him, and I was really keen for them to get a third camera in, and I was really keen for them to get a student involved because that’s just another opportunity to enhance that person’s skills.
RT: So, a bit of a short, snappy last question; describe your show in 3 words.
CR: A hilarious play about suicide.
CAST: That’s not 3 words! [laughter]
KHC: Comical… tragic…
LAD: [whispers] Relevant… [laughter]
KHC: … Relevant [more laughter]
Overall, the cast gave me some great reasons why Edge Hill helps performers to thrive, and some interesting insight into their own personal experiences, as well as being lovely to talk to and very funny! I would like to thank them here for this and staying back after their performance so that I could speak to them, even though they were probably tired! Some of the creative team were not involved in this Q&A, so I will list the others below and say congratulations on such a brilliant show:
Mark Curtis: Playwright
Lighting Design and Operation: Dave Forrest
Psychotherapist in Residence: Cathy Vincent
Psychotherapist Supervisor for Lisa Adams-Davey: Janet Higgins
Ethics Advisor: Vicky Karkou
Filming: Alistair Emmett, Daniel Hall and Owen Wheeler
Hello all! I hope you’ve had a good start to October and are enjoying this spooky season (I know I am!).
I am writing this after going to one of the many theatre shows that are performed within Edge Hill itself in the Arts Centre! As a Performing Arts student, I practically live within the Arts Centre, and I couldn’t love it any more. There are so many wonderful rehearsal spaces, teachers who are there whenever you need them, but most of all there’s the Box Office and the lovely staff there to greet you! Here you can book tickets to see theatrical performances of all genres, or screenings of films or shows by the National Theatre or the Royal Shakespeare Company. And as an Edge Hill Uni student, you even get 4 free tickets a semester!
I did two posts previously on what is offered here, which I will link just below:
The main reason I am writing this article is because, although these tell you the fabulous stuff that you can be a part of within the Arts Centre, I’ve never given a full example of the kind of show you can see at the Arts Centre. There are comedies, tragedies, contemporary performances and classics. The one I’ll be reviewing is Red Carpet by the Confiança Collaborative Theatre Co., which was an intriguing collective of humour, dark and sensitive subject matter and amazing visuals!
The Confiança Collaborative Theatre Co. base their work around mental health issues which are very much not talked about in society- although we’ve come a long way with mental health awareness, it is still very taboo in many ways in society, so I think their work is much needed within such an expressive and meaningful medium as theatre. This show in particular has been scheduled at Edge Hill to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, with the first performance occurring yesterday at 6pm, the second and third occurring today at 2:30pm and 7:30pm and the last performance occurring on Saturday at 7:30.
Red Carpet, as described by the company, is “a comedy, a drama… a tragedy, a life!”. If I was to describe the show myself in a short sentence like that, it’d definitely be “a creative, funny, yet heartbreaking way to show the effects of depression and mental illness”. But it was so much more than that! Once the doors were open, we were allowed to walk into the Rose Theatre, where it was being performed, and was greeted by an amazing set of cascading white fabric on either side of the stage, littered with cans of soup, shopping baskets and other common life debris, a wedding dress hanging from the ceiling paired with red flowers, and what appeared to be a cafe. At the back stood the character of Susan, the main role in this play, eating slices of toast.
Once everyone was in and the show was starting, the opening scene showed a cafe day unfolding, laced with silly and pun-based humour. It was a lovely, lighthearted opening which introduced several of the characters beautifully, and this humour paved the way for the darker subject matter within the play to be performed and not leave the audience feeling miserable upon leaving the theatre- something that is super important when it comes to creating material based around mental health!
The afore-mentioned ‘darker subject matter’ surrounds the character of Susan, and the fact she has been suffering from depression, and has attempted to take her own life. The thing I loved the most about this play is that you don’t get all the information about what happened and what is happening onstage from the start- you piece things together from different scenes and I even learnt knew things about all the characters right in the very last few seconds of the play. This lends itself perfectly to the less comical moments, as you hear her family and friends talking to her in the hospital, which both gives you more of an idea of what happened, and also eases the audience into topics that might otherwise be jolting to an audience upon surfacing.
Overall, I will not hesitate to say that this is one of the best, creative and well-handled pieces of contemporary theatre and performance I have ever seen. Being someone who loves anything that promotes such a good thing as mental health awareness and also loves performances that have a dark edge to them, maybe it played right into my hands, but this is definitely the type of play that has something for everyone.
So, if you are interested in seeing one of the many performances on offer at the Uni and are around or close to Edge Hill for the performance tomorrow at 7:30 I’d recommend you do! Of course, it’s not the only genre and type of performance you can see at the Uni, but it’ll give you your first insight into what kind of stuff there is! If you are wanting to bring someone under the age of 12 though, they are not permitted due to the nature of the performance- there is some strong language, and obviously some strong subject matter!
Below I’ve linked a follow up to this blog where I talked to the cast about Red Carpet and what Edge Hill offers its students and alumni!
Hello all, I hope you’re having a great week and end to June!
I wanted to talk about something that’s been a huge part of my University life; Aerial fitness. Some of you might not know exactly what this is, but if you’re a performer like me, or just into dance, acrobatics, or all things fitness then keep reading.
At the Performing Arts Freshers’ Fayre, there was a stall for Inversion Pole Fitness, and they had a sign up sheet for Pole Fitness, Aerial Hoop and Aerial Silks taster sessions. I thought it would be great to try something, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do Hoop or Silks then as I hadn’t done anything like that before, and to be honest I was nervous about doing Pole, but I put my name down- after all, it would be a new experience!
I didn’t know quite what to expect, but the taster session was super fun and I enjoyed every minute of it. The session was led by a lovely lady named Lucy, who runs Inversion, and is probably one of the nicest and most supportive people I’ve ever met. She made sure everyone felt like they could take on the pole and succeed from the minute we started the session and helped anyone who needed the help. I had a terrible sense of coordination in that first session, and I struggled with which limbs went which way, but Lucy came over and made sure I got the hang of it and 9 months on I’ve come so far with her help and support.
In January, I felt like I wanted to give Aerial Hoop a try. The Pole lessons are in the Base Dance Academy building a short walk out of the Ormskirk town centre, but the hoop lessons are in Unite Health and Fitness, which is just on the way in to town. There is also another lady who teaches hoop lessons called Aimee, who is just as lovely and helpful as Lucy. If ever I need her help she’s right there to give me guidance or spot me!
Come the end of February I thought I might as well give Silks a go too since I love Pole and Hoop so much. Silks is by far the hardest thing I’ve tried, but the most rewarding! Aimee teaches the beginner students’ Silks, and Lucy teaches the more intermediate students’ Silks.
One of the extra lessons that I took part in were aimed at helping you become more flexible through stretches that were aimed at different body parts in different lessons; for example there’d be a lesson focusing on the back one week, legs the next then arms the next. If you like yoga or just want to see how far you can push your body, then the Stretch and Flex classes are definitely for you!
One of the amazing things that was put on by the Inversion team was a showcase of all the students’ and instructors’ wonderful talent. I performed a hoop solo alongside the Inversion team and it was one of the biggest achievements of the year, especially as performing is my passion. Even if performing isn’t your passion, if you just fancy the sound of any of the things I’ve mentioned in this post, I’d say definitely try it! It could change you so much, it’s definitely changed me. And not only is this a great thing to do in your spare time, but it’s one of the wonderful things that are in Edge Hill’s resident town of Ormskirk!
Click here if you would like to see the Facebook page for Inversion Pole Fitness if you are interested, or if you want to ask me anything at all about what I’ve mentioned just drop me a comment!
Although I’ve done a couple of posts on the Arts Centre and the wonderful things they offer, I haven’t quite let you in on all of it just yet (unbelievably!). Although the Arts Centre is a working Theatre and has both theatrical and musical events throughout the year, there are also many events and showings for those who are a fan of film or screenings, which can also be a part of the free membership (meaning free films, free screenings, and free fun for all!).
Free Film Friday!
Above are a few posters from the Free Film Friday events! This is exclusive to students, unlike most of the theatre showings throughout the week, and sometimes there are even student “cook-offs”, which you get to indulge in, eat some great food and vote for the best team before enjoying your film! If you’re a fan of the kind of films shown above, or of the kinds of Beetlejuice, Suicide Squad or Finding Nemo, this is definitely one of the biggest perks of the Arts Centre and being an Edge Hill student!
During the week, there are occasionally extra films too! These are open to the public like the theatre shows, however, the membership still applies for these, and if you want to save your free tickets for theatre shows it’s only £2 to see some of the best films of the year! So far I’ve been to see Me Before You and Bridget Jones’ Baby, both of which I’m glad were shown so close to the comfort of my accommodation!
National Theatre (and other!) Screenings!
If you are a fan of theatre screenings, these also occur throughout the Arts Centre schedule! Live screenings from London of companies such as the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company are shown in our very own Studio Theatre, with many different plays to take your pick from! I think this is a great opportunity to see shows you might not otherwise have a chance to see! As a Performing Arts student, I’d learnt so much about Bertolt Brecht, yet never seen one of his plays, however, last Semester I saw his Threepenny Opera streamed by the National Theatre from London, one of my favourite experiences at the Arts Centre to date! So I’d definitely recommend attending some of these if you join the University in September! Other plays and such that are streamed and are going to be streamed this year are Twelfth Night, Saint Joan and Hedda Gabler, all by the National Theatre.
If you would like to know more about the Arts Centre and what it has to offer, I will link to my last two posts about this below and the relevant pages on the Arts Centre’s website:
Hello all, hope you’re having a good end to February.
I wanted to make sure you knew about one of- in my opinion at least- the best things about Edge Hill… The Arts Centre, Edge Hill’s own working theatre! Although the Arts Centre building is also a host for the Performing Arts courses, there are two wonderful theatres that offer shows galore: the Rose Theatre and the Studio Theatre.
I spoke with lovely Celia Wardle-Robinson and Gemma Roberts from the Arts Centre’s Box Office about what is on offer a short while ago so that you can get a better idea of just the kind of eclectic things are on offer for all students at Edge Hill- yes, all students! You don’t have to be on a Performing Arts course to take part in any of the events and shows put on at the Arts Centre!
The Arts Centre Box Office- the whos and the whats
The Box Office- the place where all the good stuff happens in the Arts Centre. This is the main port of call for anyone who wants tickets, brochures or a membership (click here for the post where I talk about this!). This is where you’ll be welcomed by Celia and Gemma, who have always been the most helpful people when I had any queries or wanted to book tickets. The Box Office staff are also the ones who ensure everyone is updated on shows that will be shown at Edge Hill, and coordinate with people such as the Campus Life crew to bring events such as the Open Mics, Talent Shows and Student Cook-Offs.
Open Mic Nights/Talent Shows
These are free events that take place within the Arts Centre Red Bar- the place pictured in-between the two posters above. Students are invited to show off their musical and non-musical talents at these nights in front of a great crowd of their friends. The atmosphere is always great, which makes it both fun to be in the audience and less nerve-wracking for those who want to perform.
What kind of shows are performed?
If you’re a fan of any type of theatre, you’ll find something you’ll enjoy!
Edge Hill has two student dance companies that often perform at the Arts Centre, and they’ll be performing before the James Wilton Dance company as their curtain-raiser for the show Leviathan on the 28th February. Leviathan is James Wilton’s re-imagining of the novel Moby Dick and features “a cast of seven, Wilton’s trademark blend of athletic dance, martial arts, capoeira and partner-work…”.
Another show that has just been performed by the company Reckless Sleepers was Negative Space- a humorous, and slightly strange 50 minute performance revolving around a very interesting set:
The set began as this perfect plasterboard box, with only the actress in the blue dress onstage, but ended battered, holey and with 6 very dusty looking performers onstage. I saw this show, and although there wasn’t a single word spoken, it was a brilliant performance! The slapstick elements of the ridiculous that occurred throughout kept the audience laughing, and the things that the performers did in destroying the set- such as pushing performers through the plasterboard or jumping through it themselves- kept shocking the audience too.
On the 6th February we were lucky enough to host an evening with Julie Atherton- if you are a fan of Musical Theatre, you might have heard her name before! Julie has performed in musicals such as Fame and Mamma Mia and was even a member of the company Avenue Q who make puppet shows with an adult twist.
She performed songs from her career and shared some of her favourite stories from along the way. Click the link below if you want to check out one of her songs:
If you’re just into music rather than theatre, we have nights for you too!
Above is the poster for the music event that was hosted last Saturday, which allowed students to see some really amazing bands! The line-up included Sex Swing- a band tipped to be one of the top 50 bands of this year-, Cavalier Song and Agathe Max.
So those are just some of the wonderful things that go on in the Arts Centre and within the Box Office! I’ve uploaded a blog post that I linked above on the FREE Arts Membership I’ll be uploading a post on other events such as the Free Film Friday the Arts Centre put on just for students and theatre and film screenings!
Most of the shows are open to the local public, but are priced at £5 for Edge Hill Students, one of the best things about the Arts Centre in my opinion, as I used to never attend theatre shows due to the prices at the bigger theatres around my area! If you have a membership, it’s free for you too! But more on that later… For now, here’s a link to the Arts Centre’s website and the online brochure so you can have a look at what else is on through to Summer- hey, if you live close, you could even come along to one of the shows!