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Close of T-Junction Festival Marks Start of New Era for Drama at St Mary's


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The St Mary’s University, Twickenham campus became a hub for drama talent this October, as the fourth Annual T-Junction Festival took place in the Drama St Mary’s Theatre. Featuring five productions, each performed four times across just ten days, the festival showcased the talent of St Mary’s final year drama students. The University, which offers a variety of undergraduate programmes, including BA Acting and BA Technical Theatre, also offers a flagship MA Theatre Directing in collaboration with Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, unique to any institution in the UK. St Mary’s underpins its academic courses with a particular focus on technical skill, all driven by a strong, and growing, team of experts in all aspects of theatre. Patsy Gilbert, St Mary’s Academic Director for Drama commented, “We are so proud of the performances our final year students have given this week – they have produced exciting, vibrant performance across a wide range of performance material. “As a team, we work hard to and offer a university experience for students whilst giving them with the creative opportunities and vocational skills only usually found in specialist drama schools. The 30 hours a week we dedicate to our students, across 30 weeks of the year, has certainly paid off.” Drama at St Mary’s has also grown the department with Dan Ford joining the team of academic staff this Autumn. Dan trained at LAMDA and has worked as a professional Actor and Performer. He joins St Mary’s having taught at the University of York and is currently completing his PhD in Acting in Immersive Theatre. Dan’s specialism is in performing and creating theatre outside of traditional performance spaces. With companies like Analogue (“The bright young things of British theatre,” The Observer), Slung Low (“Might just be the greatest theatre company around,” Time Out), and Coney (“the future of British theatre now,” The Guardian) Dan devises work that seeks to involve its audience in the story and the world around them, through participation, interaction and technology. Patsy Gilbert added, “Drama St Mary’s sees beyond theatre as entertainment – we believe it has the power to enact social change. We’re delighted to be at the forefront of growing and promoting immersive, interactive and participatory theatre and that why we’re so pleased Dan Ford has joined our team this year.” Dan Ford commented, “This is an exciting time to join Drama St Mary’s, particularly ahead of the launch of BA Acting. I’m looking forward to working with the school to deliver the most relevant and contemporary training for the young actors of 2020 and beyond.” St Mary’s is involved with local schools, charities, and theatres to ensure its students are equipped for success and have purpose during their studies and in their future careers. Most recently, a graduate theatre company, formed at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, has returned from the Canadian International Theatre Festival having won two main fringe awards: Pick of the Media; and Pick of the Staff awards. With the addition of Dan Ford, the teaching staff for St Mary’s Drama programmes comprises: Patsy Gilbert, Academic Director and a voice and singing specialist, who focuses particularly on working with community groups through theatre and singing. Patsy is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy with a particular interest in vocational training within Universities; Prof Trevor Walker, Programme Director for Drama and a director and playwright who has been working in the field of Theatre and Healthcare. His most recent commissions have been with the Teenage Cancer Trust; Kasia Zaremba-Byrne, who has recently returned from Canada with her new company Dead Rabbits and their new show The Dragon. Kasia also teaches Devised Theatre, Ensemble Skills and Physical Theatre work; Dr Michelle Paull, who researches and publishes around the areas of Irish Drama and Literature, Adaptation Studies, Contemporary Playwrights and Modern Fiction. Michelle St Mary’s contextual studies modules, where we look at Acting practice through research and theory; Julie Spencer, an Actor and facilitator who has working in venues including The Globe Theatre. Julie is also Artistic Director for Theatre Studio West, who offer theatre projects and classes in Acton; Matthew Hahn, who teaches the University’s Theatre for Development work, and part of the Contextual Studies programme. Matthew’s play ‘The Robben Island Shakespeare’ is being published in March 2017 by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama.                
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