“Theatre is having to adapt and change and, as a degree programme, we are shifting focus to accommodate this and give our students the best chance of being part of the industry after they graduate.”

Students from the Acting and the Film, TV and Theatre degree courses at The Northern School of Art are creating an online theatre festival to help them prepare for careers in an industry much changed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The showcase of work by the School’s BA (Hons) Acting Department, along with students from the Film, TV & Theatre department, is designed to provide skills now required to play a part in the future of the industry.

Called ‘Interact’, the week-long festival is being planned for 18th to 22nd January 2021 with a different event every night including mockumentaries, theatre, comedy and Q&A sessions.

Acting students doing a socially-distanced walkthrough in the School’s Hartlepool theatre

Jonny Bussell, Faculty Leader for the Acting for Stage and Screen degree at The Northern School of Art, says that the festival is an extension of work that the course did earlier this year in the first lockdown when students put together short films which were shared on Instagram.

“We have tried to embrace the challenges we are facing head on,” he says. “We didn’t want our students to miss out on the opportunity to show off their great work and I’m sure this will be a great week of amazing work.

“Theatre is having to adapt and change and, as a degree programme, we are shifting focus to accommodate this and give our students the best chance of being part of the industry after they graduate.”

On Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd January the festival will feature streamed performances of Georg Buchner’s 19th century tragedy ‘Woyzeck’ which has been updated to the world we currently live in.

Acting student Alberto Dumba is Demetrius from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a monologue recorded at home in the first national lockdown

A mix of live-streamed performance, recorded montage and projection mapping, the performance will also use Instagram and Twitter to explore Woyzeck’s thoughts as well as allowing the audience to follow other characters outside the world of the play.

The production is being directed by the School’s Acting Lecturer David Edwards who says, “Woyzeck is a new adaptation which plays against the restrictions currently in place to allow theatre to still be accessible to all.

“I’m excited to use the technology and to collaborate with the Film, TV & Theatre students. It’s also great that the scope for our audience could be huge.”

Second year Acting student Gemma Blake, from Burnley in Lancashire, says that she has already been given experience of how the profession is adapting due to the pandemic. “Over lockdown we had guest lecturers join our online classes to give us an insight as to what they were working on over the lockdown period.

Second year Acting student Gemma Blake

“We also created short monologues in small groups and filmed them separately and joined them together through editing. They were shown on Instagram as a live which I really enjoyed.”
Gemma is really looking forward to the online event in January. She adds, “I’m excited for this festival to take place, not only to allow artists in training, like me, to have an opportunity to shine, but also to show people how welcoming the arts are. You don’t need to be a part of the arts to enjoy it.”

“I chose to study at The Northern School of Art because the community surrounding the university was and is amazing! We get so many opportunities here to work with professionals who are currently creating work in the creative industry, from our tutors to international companies like Frantic assembly, directors like Maria Crocker and actors like Tony Jayawardena.

“Meeting and working with creatives throughout the year I have already studied here has not only given me experience I will remember throughout the rest of my career, but contacts who I can propose ideas too.”

The ‘Interact’ Online Theatre Festival runs from 18th to 22nd January 2021. All events are free but contributions to partner charities Mind and The Trussell Trust will be encouraged. Further details will be available via www.northernart.ac.uk

Further information about the industry skills-focused Acting and Film, Theatre and TV degree courses at The Northern School of Art’s university campus in Hartlepool are available at https://northernart.ac.uk/study-with-us/hartlepool-campus/ba-degree-courses/


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