Phat Swan Performance Company students at Stratford-upon-Avon College have been accepted into East 15, a prestigious drama school based in Southend-on-Sea.
Birmingham based students Lucy Bisseker, 18 and James Fisher, 19 found themselves a little lost after completing their A-Levels and decided to take a gap year. Fortunately, they both came across advertisements of Stratford-upon-Avon College’s Phat Swan Performance Company.
Phat Swan is a unique course set up to provide continued skills development for students who wish to take a gap year after Level 3 or A-Levels before auditioning for drama school or higher education.
Lucy comments: “I didn’t know much about the College or course and found it on Facebook after seeing an ad, the more I read about it the more interesting it sounded and I’m so glad that I applied.”
Lucy and James immersed themselves in the various productions and workshops held throughout their time on Phat Swan
James was at a youth centre where he saw leaflets of Phat Swan being distributed, he says: “I applied as soon as I got home. Phat Swan was everything I needed out of my gap year as I had no idea what I was going to do, and it offered me the structure that I needed.”
James explains: “Phat Swan has made me more knowledgeable in acting in general and in the industry as a whole. It has helped me with auditions and to be more instinctive when acting, it’s exactly what I joined for.”
During their time on the course, Lucy and James got involved in a range of projects and workshops. One such project was ‘After The End’, a psychological thriller which they both wrote, directed, and starred in during lockdown. Lucy reflects: “We both wanted to do something creative and experimental, so we took the idea of a play and tried to create the same atmosphere, it was really fun. The more we worked on it, the more we realised how fitting it was to the current climate we were all in.”
James continues: “It allowed us to push ourselves and adapt to the current situation, rising to the challenges we were facing.”
Their time at Phat Swan came to an end with a live performance of a play entitled ‘Alone’ which they performed in one of the College’s industry-standard theatres. James says: “It was a powerful play and it felt great to be part of such an amazing production.”
Grateful for the support Acting Lecturer Kerry Downing provided, Lucy comments: “Kerry would actively encourage us to research and utilise the rehearsal spaces at the College. I’m getting more interested in directing because Kerry gave me that support and pushed me to collaborate with my peers and experiment with directing different pieces and scenes. I wasn’t given that opportunity before at A-Levels. Phat Swan allowed me the time to explore other things.”
Set to start their journeys by the sea at East 15, both James and Lucy are excited for what their futures hold. James’ ambition is to one day play Richard Hannay in 39 Steps. Lucy aims to get more involved in directing and ultimately joining a theatre company.
Applications are now open for students who are finishing their Level 3 course or A-Levels to join the Phat Swan Performance Company course in September.
Watch James Fisher and Lucy Bisseker star in their psychological thriller ‘After The End’