Performing & Production Arts students from Stratford-upon-Avon College ended their first half term with a plethora of performances in the College’s newly kitted out theatres.
Students studying Performing Arts, Acting, Musical Theatre and Dance, with the College’s Backstage Production Arts students handling the technical aspects, jumped straight into the deep end performing in shows within their first few weeks at college.
The shows were performed in a range of newly refurbished performance spaces: The Gordon’s Vallins Theatre, The Willows Theatre and The Space.
Upgraded equipment now includes Sony HXC 4K cameras, a range of Arri LED lights, orbiters and controls and intelligent performance LED lights. In each theatre, the lighting system is configured on its own DMX network and is fully programmable from the control galleries, allowing for an enhanced range of lighting possibilities. Rehearsal spaces have also been upgraded to include new Harlequin sprung floors. In The Willows Theatre, a new steel control gantry has been constructed, allowing for students with mobility issues to have full access to participate in productions.
The run of performances began with the Level 2 Performing Arts students in The Willows Theatre in a production of The Shakey – a show inspired by the works of John Godber and Jim Cartwright. The students showcased comedic and dramatic talent against the backdrop of a fictional pub called The Shakey.
Level 2 Performing Art students in The Shakey
Next up was first year Dance students who performed in The Space for their performance of Exploration. This water inspired dance piece used the technique and style of dance theatre company Motionhouse. Dance tutor Samantha Franks commented: “The students have achieved an incredible amount in just their first seven weeks here at college, not only performing incredibly well in their first show but also to provide some choreography.”
Dance students in Exploration
This was followed by the Musical Theatre students who performed in A Time For Sondheim – a tribute showcase which celebrated the works of Musical Theatre legend Stephen Sondheim through a range of songs and short scenes from some of his hit shows including Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Assassins and Company. They performed in The Willows Theatre and showcased their vocal talent as well as powerful acting performances.
Musical Theatre students in A Time For Sondheim
To complete the run of shows, Acting students performed in the Gordon Vallins Theatre. Their show was called L&I and was a collection of unrelated short scenes in a style inspired by playwright Carol Churchill. They went from hilarious skits to emotional interactions and showed an impressive amount of diversity of skill.
Acting students in L&I
Acting student Warwick Wills described why performing so early in the course is beneficial: “It was incredibly helpful as immediately being in a performance environment reflected how it will be in the industry.” Skye Bradshaw added: “When we began this project we were all quite reserved and it has been great to see everyone grow and come out of their shell and now we are well on our way!” Rebecca Puzzo added: “We started off with a certain mindset and over this process have learnt how to work quickly and efficiently and with heart.”
Throughout all these performances, the technical aspects were all expertly handled by first year Backstage Production Arts students. This included lighting, sound, Audio Visuals (AV) and stage management duties.
Congratulations to all students involved. As Shakespeare said: “All the worlds a stage”, and the College’s first-year students rocked all three of theirs!