Hello. It’s hot. And it’s been just over a year since I last posted anything (how did that happen?). It’s actually because, for the last year, I’ve been very busy. I’ve been organising a big project. Today, I decided to write a blog post announcing this project on our Film, Theatre and Television blog at Reading. As I was writing it, it occurred to me that I should post it here too. Because that’s what I’ve been doing. Because I’m thrilled and excited…and it’s taken a year. So what follows here is the post about my project that I’ll also be posting on the Film, Theatre and Television blog (hence why I refer to myself in the third person). Also, what I don’t mention in the below is that while I’m really excited about this project in and of itself, it’s also something that I’m doing for my research. I’m going to be writing about the process of doing all of this. And, once it’s all done, these case studies, amongst others, will be a thesis that explores different ways to make plays. Thanks for reading.
We’re delighted to announce that The Department of Film, Theatre and Television has commenced a formal partnership with South Street Arts Centre, Reading. The department has enjoyed a longstanding connection with South Street thanks to the work of Professor Lib Taylor. Now, following receipt of a successful ACE application, we’re delighted to announce that Minghella Studios and South Street have formalised their relationship. Over the next three years, together, we plan to co-commission six productions by leading practitioners and companies.
Led by Lucy Tyler, Lecturer in Performance Practices and Industries, and John Luther Artistic Director of South Street, this project signals the start of a new relationship with South Street Arts Centre, and associate artists, and the start of an exciting series of events and opportunities at Minghella Studios.
Over the next three years, in collaboration with South Street, Minghella Studios will co-commission work from Andy Smith and Fuel Theatre Company, Redcape Theatre Company, Greg Wohead, Action Hero and Dante or Die. Some of these companies and artists have established connections with Reading, some even have existing relationships with the University and the department of Film, Theatre and Television itself. For example, Dante or Die’s Co-Artistic Director Terry O’Donovan is a graduate of Film, Theatre and Television. Terry has been central to supporting this partnership emerge; he was involved in a pilot of this scheme with his play Focus Group with his other company, Toot (which he runs with another Reading graduate Clare Dunn and a third member, Stuart Barter).
In addition to working with these artists, at the end of 2017, Minghella Studios and South Street intend to co-produce their own show: about the batsman Gordon Greenidge and his links to Reading. All the projects are intended to target different issues of diversity and inclusion. For example, subjects the plays interrogate include disability politics, sexuality, race and gender equality.
The exact activities for each performance’s development will vary and depend on the nature of the work in hand. However, what’s certain is that each process will commence with a series of open-access research and development workshops held at Minghella Studios and South Street. Practitioners will be observed by, and work alongside, students and discuss their process and the developing works in events held on campus. Once their pieces are finished, they will be produced at South Street.
Some of this exciting work has already begun. Andy Smith’s play Summit was developed over a series of events around disability politics in performance held in Minghella Studios in March. Summit, produced by Fuel Theatre Company, premiered at the Brighton Fringe in May (the picture above shows Lucy Tyler pointing to the credit for The University of Reading and South Street as co-commissioners of the show – our first in the series!). Moreover, we’re delighted to welcome Andy and Fuel back to Reading in February 2018 to open the nationwide tour of Summit.
Although the time-line for the events is still evolving, what’s certain is that each development phase will constitute an exciting opportunity for students and members of the community to observe and participate in the development of each piece before its production at South Street.
The project marks a new turn in ACE funding that celebrates and supports emerging partnerships between Higher Education and the theatre industry. Film, Theatre and Television are delighted to be at the forefront of that.
Watch this space for more information about forthcoming events.