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Frantic Assembly, three week residency with professional practitioners

Pioneering theatre company Frantic Assembly visits LSBU every year to develop and inspire our students, who must develop, rehearse and perform a show in just a week

Every year in the autumn term, Frantic Assembly deliver three intensive residencies at LBSU and put our aspiring theatre-makers to the test. Students in their second year of BA (Hons) Drama and Performance have just a week to put together a piece that reflects their creative ideas and Frantic Assembly’s method and ethos – a company well-known for injecting movement into its theatre, who most recently have worked as movement directors for the National Theatre’s acclaimed production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

Organic process

The process is organic, with ideas coming from all sides. The Frantic Method focuses on small building blocks, developing material from the smallest initial starting point through to complex and multi-layered performance. Frantic work with the students to develop a picture of how to represent an often seemingly abstract theme – this year’s project themes ranged from ideas about success, politics and embracing your inner child. The workshop is tough – both physically and intellectually. Students must work to a professional’s standard throughout the whole week, and they perform their 30-minute piece on the Friday night.

Frantic Assembly show

Language of movement

Steve Kirkham, who has worked with Frantic for 20 years and is leading one of the residencies at LSBU, describes the week: “To start with students learn lifts and creative strategies. They’ll begin to learn the new language they can use to express themselves – a language of movement that reveals what it means to be human. Throughout the week the improvement is clear – students are physically fitter, working more professionally as a unit and developing in confidence.”

“It’s a physical workout,” Tanya Faramus, a second year student agrees. “We work solidly for nine hours every day. It’s been great to have a clear focus though, and I’ve actually feeling happier since I started the workshop. It’s amazing how much you can actually do in week!”

It’s been freeing, and being open to so many news ideas has left me feeling refreshed. I love that it’s fast-paced and that the structure within each days is quite loose – we build and create small parts around the ideas and responses to the theme and then put them together towards the end of the week. 

Rachel Triggs, BA (Hons) Drama and Performance

Professional level

Students work at a high level every day and are encouraged to fully take ownership of the project. “Students are encouraged to work as professionals,” explains Steve. “They are treated this way and this helps them build up an understanding of what it’s like to work for a professional theatre company.” In this way students are prepared for the kind of activities they might be expected to do after graduation. “It’s about getting them to step into the Frantic world with confidence, and to do this they need to trust one another and work together at a professional level.”

Seeing the benefits

The students are assessed on the residency, so the final piece and process counts toward their final grade, but aside from credit, students gain a vast amount of industry-level knowledge and skills they can take a way to use in their own practice and for their own professional development. “I’ve learnt that it’s sometimes good to take risks,” says Tanya, “We’ve been encouraged to act on impulses built on strategies that Frantic introduced.”

“I’ve learnt specific techniques as well,” comments Rachel. “I’ve learnt about creating movements using The Frantic Method – linking with partners through contact duets, for example.”

Frantic Assembly show