It has been a show-packed few months in the Drama & Theatre department at York St John University. We’ve had sold out performances, site-specific shows, new shows, odd plays, applied performances, stand-up comedy, physical theatre, dramatic monologues and even a “NED” Talk.
After so many wonderful shows and as we bid farewell to our third year students, we thought we would share a selection of images from the last few weeks of the semester! As always, our students continue to amaze us with their creativity, commitment and energy.
On Friday 15th January in Quad South Hall – MA Theatre and Performance students, Charlotte Goodlad, Simon Bedwell, Yanzhe Zhao and Jess Chaney, presented Billy is Writing as part of their Collaborations and Commissions module convened by Dr. Eirini Nedelkopoulou. The piece developed through a series of workshops which further explored issues of critical engagement, creative collaboration and audience participation.
Billy is Writing is a collaborative project, which experiments with different modes of audience interaction. Inspired by the story Macbeth, the four makers offer a post-dramatic retelling of the Shakespearean play. The show utilised digital technologies to allow audiences to navigate through the performance narrative using a handheld device. Audience members could decide upon the sequence of the performance ‘acts’ and alter the overall shape of the production.
All Drama & Theatre students have the opportunity to Study Abroad during the second year of their degree. We have relationships with world-class Universities in Europe, the USA and Canada. We asked current second year Theatre student Imogen Sutherland to write to us from her semester of study at Keene State College in New Hampshire:
Dear York St John,
So, to be completely honest I’m not too sure where to start. I have now been in the states for just over 2 months, with 6 weeks to go and the time has flown by far too fast.
First of all, I have become a coffee-drinking-Starbucks lover, something I never thought I’d say! The caramel Macchiato has become a vital part of my week, and I now have my own Starbucks reward card!! (I am actually sat in Starbucks, with a caramel macchiato as I write this) I have also become a vegetarian, however with Thanksgiving just round the corner, turkey and stuffing may be too much of a temptation.
University life in the US is very different to my UK student life. For starters drinking alcohol is highly illegal until 21, and seeing as some students become freshman at the age of 17, student parties are a police fest. All accommodation is also catered for, meaning that food is unlimited, whenever you want it. Which is actually really dangerous because the food is amazing!!
An important part of my time here is the academic side. The structure of the week is very different, with much more set lecture times and classes repeated in the week. An 8am start on a Monday and Wednesday is a bit early for me. Midterms and pop quizzes are also very real, very scary things. Essays are also based on amount of pages rather than words, having handed in an 8-page midterm and an 11-page midterm already this semester I am now dreading finals. The work is fun, my recent research paper looked into the role of the British suffragette movement on the 21st Century feminist movement. 3 out of the of my 4 classes are acting/theatre based with the fourth being a sculpture class, which has actually become a bit more of a visual arts module which is good fun (and possibly worth the 8am beginning). My favourite module overall is my ‘Gender and sexuality within the Theatre’ (which my feminism paper was part of), it’s take me slightly out of my comfort zone but incredibly interesting.
Culturally I immersed myself fully into American life. Having a roommate has been a major part of that, of which I have been incredibly lucky. I have climbed a local mountain, been to Walmart, attended a pumpkin festival and Halloween in Salem (as in witchy Salem), apple picking, tried pumpkin flavoured everything, visited an actual thrift store, had the chance to go to Boston on many occasions (and experience Americans driving in Boston, I am definitely thankful for my life)and am heading to NYC next weekend. Then i’ll go to the Ben and Jerrys factory, have Thanksgiving, shop on Black Friday, go to an Ice hockey game, i’m busy and happy.
Overall, I am having an amazing time here and it’s sad to think I only have 6 weeks left. I am, obviously, missing my YSJ family a lot though (Skype and facetime are wonderful things).
I hope you are all doing amazingly, and I look forward to seeing you all for our Poland Field Trip in January!!
Gillygate York is a beautiful old street with an evolving attitude and is just outside the city walls. It’s not a well-documented or archived street but it has a catalogue of modern threats of closure and an eccentric artisan past. Once home to a medieval landscape, a small hold farm, stables, 18th century housing, St Giles Church, a skating rink, tramlines and a fully working mechanical garage. Gillygate now homes an eclectic mix of independent trading shops, cafes, pubs, music stores, vintage clothes shops, fancy dress, craft shops, an adult shop, hair salons (among many other independently ran business) and residential homes as well as the Salvation Army (as at the date of writing). Gillygate, bizarre and so homemade.
When York City Art Gallery reopened its doors this Summer as part of a massive re-development project, a new work was exhibited alongside historic paintings and drawings of York. This work, a video and neon text installation is a new contemporary work by artists Gary Winters and Associate Professor of Theatre Claire Hind entitled ‘We Made Something of This’.
We Made Something of This is a portrait of Gillygate as it was during summer 2014 captured on Super 8mm film and using stories, anecdotes and facts gathered from its residents and proprietors. The film also includes footage of an inaugural feast day performance by the artists held on September 1st celebrating the street’s namesake, Giles – the patron saint of hermits and nocturnal terrors. Gary and Claire have said that “being on the edge of the city, we feel Gillygate still lives up to its patron’s name.” Gillygate named after Giles, the kind and noble quiet one who was nurtured by a hind then, away from it all, saved its life – took an arrow for it and lived on as a Saint.
Our neon light represents the spirit, creativity and determination of those who live and work on Gillygate and those who have risen above the threats of commercialism and the struggles of modern day trading. Our neon light also represents our work, our relationship to the street, the materials we use and the way in which we find serendipity in our projects with and the stories that unfold.
Gillygate for Nina and her garden’s hidden treasures.
Gillygate for Ken and his pie in the oven.
Gillygate for Phil who bakes bread ‘till late.
Gillygate for Paul who wears an arrow through his head whilst listening to Frank Sinatra.
Gillygate for Hamish and his cat.
We Made Something of This is on view at York Art Gallery until March 2016. For more information about Gary and Claire’s projects visit www.garyandclaire.com.
The theatre director Avra Sidiropoulou* ran a 4hr workshop on Directing Basics with our BA Theatre Students on Tuesday 10th November. The workshop explored fundamental aspects that permeate the work of the stage director in relation to strategies of text analysis, directorial interpretation and point-of-view, as well as of conceiving, designing and orchestrating performance. The students devised work in response to Syrian Refugee Crisis. The workshop examined some of the reasons, means, processes and relationships that are involved in staging a play, especially in terms of concept, composition and focus.
*Avra Sidiropoulou is a theatre director and a lecturer at the M.A. Programme in Theater Studies (Open University of Cyprus). Her monograph Authoring Performance. The Director in Contemporary Theatre was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011.
After a very busy summer and a very busy start to the new semester, we are back!
To start the year off well we have already had our first Performing House of the year with Theatre Blah Blah Blah’s production of ‘Bag Dancing‘. Coming up we have: brand new work from Le Pelle’s Factory ‘Cloudcuckoolander‘; a radical hit work by Clean Break performed inside a prison van ‘Sweatbox‘; Claire Hind & Gary Winters’ incredible studio show ‘Dream Yards‘. Next year storyteller Shonaleigh returns to us with ‘The Diamond Girl’ and Peter McMaster’s incredible all-male production of ‘Wuthering Heights’.
We’re very excited to have all of these incredible companies and performing artists on our campus!
Published by Routledge the book offers a timely discussion about the interventions and tensions between two contested and contentious fields, performance and phenomenology, with international case studies that map an emerging 21st century terrain of critical and performance practice. Building on the foundational texts of both fields that established the performativity of perception and cognition, Performance and Phenomenology continues a tradition that considers experience to be the foundation of being and meaning. Acknowledging the history and critical polemics against phenomenological methodology and against performance as a field of study and category of artistic production, the volume provides both an introduction to core thinkers and an expansion on their ideas in a wide range of case studies. Whether addressing the use of dead animals in performance, actor training, the legal implications of thinking phenomenologically about how we walk, or the intertwining of digital and analog perception, each chapter explores a world comprised of embodied action and thought. The established and emerging scholars contributing to the volume develop insights central to the phenomenological tradition while expanding on the work of contemporary theorists and performers. In asking why performance and phenomenology belong in conversation together, the book suggests how they can transform each other in the process and what is at stake in this transformation.
As Create 15 ends and we begin to sort through the documentation and the year ends, sadly, we also have to say goodbye to our graduating students. Fortunately for us, our students are creative and so one student, Jess Chaney, wrote a poem to best express the thoughts of a year group moving on from their degree, Thank Jess!
Through fragmented images, snatched conversations and half remembered events, York St John’s second year theatre students have created their production as a reconsidering of William Shakespeare’s King Lear. It has been composed in response to the student’s recent secular pilgrimage to Auschwitz; to try and answer the question “how will we remember when all the witnesses are gone?”
Inspired by the illustrations of Marcel Dzama, Level 1 Ensemble Theatre Students present
Tuesday 12th May, 8:30pm
York St John University Quad
Take a walk into the forest and experience Dzamaland first hand. Take in the night time noises whilst you surround yourself with narcoleptic trees, swaying in their dreams. Be careful and beware as the sleeping sickness catches the tourists as they wander. Their eyes watching from every crevice staring you down you as you continue to wonder. Moving deeper and deeper into the ink-stain-dark.
After the crash, the crash that went bang, banging and echoing through every still and single branch and every soft yet shaking paw. The moonshine shone on the souls of the forest and the moonshine will shine again on you, illuminating the pathway that would otherwise be clouded in a cloak of darkness.
As we settle into the forest, we are settling in to the unknown world, into a world filled creatures dancing in the moonshine. Watch reality burn away into the shadows as you stumble along the path that has been stumbled upon many times before, or had it been encountered at all?
You decide what is real and what is not, who to help whilst thinking who would help you…Open your eyes and open your mind as you trickle through a web of misinterpretation.