Acting students from Stratford-upon-Avon College were recently involved in a workshop session with the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire to learn about Applied Theatre and how important it can be to inspire changes in society.
Students on the College’s Acting and Phat Swan Theatre Company courses are exposed to a whole range of opportunities to prepare them for a career as a performer. Peter Wynne-Wilson, course director of Applied Theatre at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, visited the students to let them know how Applied Theatre can benefit both themselves and society as a whole.
Applied Theatre is an umbrella term, embracing a variety of theatre practices that aim to provoke or shape social change, including theatre in education, youth theatre, disability theatre, museum theatre and prison theatre to name a few. In Birmingham alone there are more than 60 Applied Theatre companies in operation, which means it is a type of theatre that actors will regularly have the opportunity to work in.
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire offers a specific degree in Applied Theatre. Peter Wynne-Wilson discusses why this course is different to other acting or drama courses: “Overall the course is broader. As well as looking at acting, it also covers theatre making, devising and business. It equips the actor with the skills to set up their own company and/or work as a freelancer. It also has a focus on creating theatre in non-theatre spaces like schools, prison and on the streets. It is definitely a course which suits people with something to say and who want to make a difference.”
Peter visited the College with two current RBC students, Billie Lewery and Maddie Hedges, to help deliver a workshop. Billie comments: “I feel so passionately about the course. I’m excited to spread awareness of what the course is so young actors know their options.”
The session consisted of an introductory chat, a warmup and a workshop session using Applied Theatre principals. The College’s students found the session incredibly enlightening. Leandro Thomas-O’Connor commented: “I really like to get my point across in theatre so this is an ideal avenue for me.” Ella Hampson said: “I really enjoyed the exercises we did; they forced us to address our opinions and then allowed us to learn how to put it into theatre.”
College Acting Lecturer, Kerry Downing, thought the visit was really important for the students: “It gives them a chance to see something they don’t see everyday; something that offers a new perspective and a diverse range of options for their future careers.”