LSBU Student Theatre Company
The Student Theatre Company puts on regular shows and offers drama students an experience that prepares them for a professional acting career
At LSBU we believe that practical experience is a vital component of learning, and wherever possible we aim to ensure students have the chance to practice their skills in a professional, real setting. Doing so not only helps them hone their craft, but it also provides opportunities to develop outstanding CVs and a professional network that can make all the difference when it comes to starting a career.
That’s why, since 2009, BA (Hons) Drama and Performance students have had the chance to join our Student Theatre Company, giving them the chance to network with professional directors, performance and theatre companies as they create professional-standard performances of new and existing works.
Trebled in size
Gill Foster, Course Director for BA (Hons) Drama and Performance, is understandably proud of the success enjoyed by the Student Theatre Company. “It began in 2009 with just 15 students, but in 2015 over 180 students were involved with the company at various stages of their degrees,” she says. “We’ve more than trebled the size and scope of the company since those early days, and our most recent season of works included three full-length productions directed by professional directors, three new works created in collaboration with acclaimed theatre company Frantic Assembly, and a new partnership of site-responsive artistic residencies at Southwark’s most exciting new theatre venue, the Wells Way Pop-Up in Burgess Park.”
It’s a far cry from the company’s first year, which saw those 15 students stage a production of Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding. However, even in those embryonic stages, professional collaboration was at the very heart of the student theatre company.
It's intense, it's thrilling and very rewarding to see the hard work done in rehearsals come to life on stage in front of an open audience.
Mathieu Lovelace, Assistant Director, Student Theatre Company
“That first performance was directed by Jon Lee, the artistic director of Dirty Market Theatre,” says Gill. “It marked the beginning of a long-term collaboration, and Jon is now a part-time lecturer on the course while he develops new works for Dirty Market Theatre.”
It’s a collaboration that has borne fruit for all the students who have been involved in the performances over the years, as Gill is quick to point out. “The company always plays to sold-out houses, with over 600 people seeing the students’ work each year,” she says.
The company already has plenty of success stories, with every company member leaving LSBU with professional work on their CV and portfolio. For some, their time in the company working alongside professionals leads to early offers of employment. In 2012, for example, Maria Klockare worked as Assistant Director to Moving Stories’ Artistic Director Emma Gersch on her production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Emma was so impressed with Maria that she offered her work as Assistant Producer on her next show at the Riverside Studios. In 2014 another student, Ed Richards, travelled to Au Brana theatre workshop in Toulouse, France, as part of an annual artistic residency. His work so impressed the company that he was invited to return in 2015 and has now been offered a place in the permanent acting company.
Current members are equally effusive in their praise for the company. Mathieu Lovelace spent a season working in the company while still a student, before securing an graduate internship as Assistant Director. “Working as part of the student theatre company is essentially a unique taste of what a professional theatre company's daily life is,” he says of the experience. "There's the opportunity to learn a lot - about your craft, yourself, and yourself in relation to the other members of the cast and crew, who soon become your second family."
Mathieu also believes that the experience of being part of the company gives LSBU graduates a real advantage when it comes to their careers. “It teaches you how to build something collaboratively and to behave in a professional manner,” he says. “For the duration of the production the students are working to meet the professional standards encountered in the theatre industry - a requirement that is greatly valuable. This sense of working community is something I want to recreate in my professional life and it gives me the energy to go for new projects and opportunities.”
Early career artists
Those success stories are what it’s all about for Gill, who takes great pleasure in seeing course alumni go on to establish themselves as artists and performers in their own right. “As the Artistic Director, it’s always exciting to watch our students presenting themselves as early career artists,” she says.
It’s an absolute pleasure to watch students grow and develop into skilled, creative and intellectually curious young performers and theatre makers.
Gill Foster, Course Director BA (Hons) Drama and Performance
Find out more about studying BA (Hons) Drama and Performance at LSBU.