The Drama Directing Festival is entirely run by undergraduate Drama students – with first years acting in the performances, second years managing the technical side and third years directing.
Across the three days of the 2017 Festival, 230 students staged 58 performances, split between two spaces in the Centre. One of the students likened the three day event to a ‘mini-fringe festival’ and it certainly had that atmosphere.
As Senior Lecturer Dr Andrew Sherlock described, the whole building was ‘buzzing with creative chaos with students and staff everywhere either organising, watching or taking part in the performances’.
Each group had just 12 hours of rehearsal time, before they performed a 12-minute piece of their choosing. As there is such a quick turnaround of only eight minutes between the short performances, the students have to work with limited sets. Something which third year Drama student Sophie Baillie says ‘makes it a highly creative process.’
Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Weatherill joined the Festival on Monday afternoon to meet the students involved and watch two brilliant performances: ‘Tomcat’ directed by Georgia Brain and ‘Variations on the Death of Trotsky’ directed by Ricardo Alexander.
The performances demonstrated the diversity of talent on the course. He commented: ‘What a good way for first, second and third year students to get to know each other and learn from each other in a very natural way.’
Programme Leader Mike McCormack explained, ‘The Drama Directing Festival is, as far as we know, a unique way of assessing Drama students at this level. Every student on the programme is involved. Not only does this give our students experience of all aspects of performance, but there’s a very strong social element. We think this social aspect of the Drama Directing Festival is one of the reasons for the high student retention rate on the Drama course.’
Sophie Baillie added, ‘I know most students in the first and second years because of the Festival. Having taken part in the Festival for the last two years, I’ve performed and gained an understanding of the technical side of things which has helped me now I’m directing a performance this year.’
Find out more about studying Drama at LJMU.