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TheatreCraft 2022

We were delighted that TheatreCraft was back in person at the Royal Opera House yesterday, 25th October, which delivered a full day of panel discussions, workshops and a buzzing marketplace.

Brian Warrens, Director of the Backstage Centre, joined Emma Bowers and Laura Brown on the University Centre South Essex (UCSE) stand to meet young people, adults and industry colleagues.

The courses delivered from the Backstage Centre and the ROH Costume Construction building at High House Production Park in Purfleet-on-Thames generated a lot of interest from attendees at this unique event which focuses on the magical world of Theatre.

Central to the experience is the location. The Production Park is a professional, creative industries specialist estate where it is home to ACME Artist Studios, the Royal Opera House Scenic Construction building, the Royal Opera House and University Centre South Essex Costume Construction, the Backstage Centre, and Thurrock Music Services.

Students attend lessons at the park, alongside clients from across the entertainment industry and cultural sector working here.

In addition to lessons, students experience some amazing guest masterclasses, and work with industry partners on live brief projects.

“It is essential we see students becoming industry-ready by the time they have completed their study programme, which will begin the moment they enter our buildings.”

Backstage Centre director Brian Warrens continues,

“…it was a joyous day yesterday meeting so many people, and not only those within easy reach of London. I spoke with young people and their families from Bradford, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool. A tutor from City College Norwich brought a minibus of UAL Level 3 Performing and Production Arts students to this amazing event. The south and south-west regions were equally visible in their attendance. I look forward to welcoming new students when they enrol in the future.”

Emma Bowers, Programme Lead on UAL BA (Hons) in Costume Construction took eager students through the journey from year one to year three, and provided fabulous examples of the student work created in this collaborative programme developed with industry partners and not least of which, the Royal Opera House. The BA (Hons) Costume Construction programme places an emphasis on the knowledge and use of both historical and contemporary pattern cutting, construction, textiles and finishing techniques. Areas of study may include opera, dance, theatre, musical theatre, performance art, film and television.

Photo: Exhibit of student work, Graduation Show 2022.

A highlight of the programmes are the links to industry. Laura Brown, programme lead for the UAL FdA/BA (Hons) Hair and Make-Up Design and Application provided examples of collaborations with theatre organisations, manufacturers, heritage groups and commercial organisations to provide students with real-world experiences.

This study programme is designed to advance and develop skills and techniques in the design and application for production. This programme aims to prepare students to become multiskilled makeup artists who will be able to deliver industry standard work in a commercial or production setting for TV, film & stage.

In partnership with The Backstage Centre, students will be able to study within a real working environment and experience first-hand collaborative projects and industry partnerships. The programme will cover multiple hair and makeup techniques from traditional to contemporary. Delve in to the historical accuracies of makeup and hair and develop their knowledge in diverse skin tones & hair textures. Aiming to prepare students for progressing in to TV, Film & theatre employment.

Photo: Guest Masterclass from NARS PRO UK.

Also presented was the UAL BA (Hons) Top-Up in Performing Arts (Level 6), which provides students with a contemporary, industry appropriate final year training for students completing a Level 5 HND in Dance or Acting.

Developed by Lucy Heale and Vanessa Dunley with industry partners in response to the present employment climate within the Performing Arts sector, it is important for students to recognise that to navigate a successful career which is both sustainable and has longevity requires adaption and a multifaceted approach. Through the third year Top Up programme, students have the opportunity to audit and evaluate their own skills set in relation to the myriad of employment opportunities available to them.

At level six, students are encouraged to expand their awareness of the diverse nature of the Performing Arts Sector. The structure will enable students to create their own bespoke learning experience, crossing performance specialisms, allowing for extended diversity to their individual career development. 

Photo: Creature Bionics Motion Capture Workshop with Ace Ruele and Robin Berry.

Theatrecraft 2022 also provided and opportunity for industry bodies, organisations and representatives to help advise the attendees on their choices and how to reach their goals.

Other UCSE Creative and Cultural programmes are delivered from many of the campus locations within the South Essex Colleges group.

Taking over the helm of the BA (Hons) TV and Film Production is returning expert lecturer, Pat Higgins.

Photo: Pat Higgins

“I’ve been active as a screenwriter and director since 2004, and since 2009 I’ve managed twin careers in education and the film industry. 

I’ve had a real rollercoaster of a career so far! I’ve sold movie screenplays on both sides of the Atlantic, worked as an uncredited script doctor on acclaimed Hollywood movies (the titles of which I’m sadly not allowed to put on my CV), spoken at film festivals and screenwriting events across the country and directed six feature films. I’ve also been lucky enough to teach on some wonderful courses in the past and I’m absolutely delighted to be coming to University Centre South Essex as Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Film & TV. I was a module leader on the same course back in 2015, and I’m delighted to be returning in my new role. “

We look forward to working with Pat and his students in 2023.

Other collaborations with the Backstage Centre includes the BA (Hons) in Interior Design, and BA (Hons) in Photography.

On an industrial footing The Backstage Centre has been working closely with Richard Woods and the team at CREATEBritain in the advancement of their outstanding new creative portfolio platform aimed at maintaining employability from education years and throughout a career. Richard will be visiting the University Centre South Essex students this coming November as part of the employability and engagement masterclasses delivered across a range of programmes.

If you want to find out more about the Higher Education offer from the University Centre South Essex at South Essex Colleges Group, then click the highlighted links in this Blog.