BA (Hons) Drama and Performance, Shanghai Cultural Exchange
The trip was designed specifically to give the students some global context to their studies, enabling them to see first hand the similarities and differences of international theatre performance.
The trip built on the success of the initial contact between the two universities back in 2011, when LSBU students toured with their production of 'Sound and Fury', taking it to the Shanghai Normal University (SHNU) annual arts festival. The play was performed to a packed audience of around 1000 people. Such success has led to the universities working towards a biennial cultural exchange, with the 2013 visit aimed at exploring ways to strengthen the relationship.
The visit provided the LSBU students with an incredible opportunity to work with Chinese students and their professors, and areas of common ground were quickly established. BA (Hons) Drama and Performance has an emphasis on physical theatre and developing students' technical and creative movement. This was very well matched with the highly skilled physical actors that SHNU produces.
One of the highlights of the exchange was a three-hour performance class with SHNU's Professor of Physical theatre and eight Chinese students. This unique opportunity left even LSBU's supple students admiring the flexibility of the SHNU students, and provided them with a glimpse of a different culture and education system.
Course Director Gill Foster feels that both sets of students benefitted from the exchange, saying: "The LSBU students thoroughly enjoyed working with the physical practice of the Shanghai students, coming as it does from a Tai Chi and martial arts base. There is much that the two groups of students can learn from each other."
To prepare for the trip, all ten LSBU students studied Mandarin at the Confucius Institute at LSBU, helping them to take even more from the inspiring cultural exchange. Indeed, one student has enrolled onto further Mandarin classes after returning from Shanghai, with the aim of returning there to work after his degree.
The teams behind the exchange are currently working to develop the relationship further, and hope to repeat the trip in 2015, describing it as a 'life-changing experience' for all the students involved.