Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of the Staff-Student Newsletter!
As this is the first issue of the new academic year, we would also like to offer a HUGE WELCOME to our new Level 4 students! We hope you’re settling in well and taking advantage of all the academic, cultural, and social opportunities that Salford has to offer. The Staff/Student Newsletter is where we showcase the amazing things that are happening in our Performance community. So, please let us know about any projects you’re working on, shows you’re taking part in, or content you’re producing.
In this bumper edition of the newsletter, we’ve got details of L4 MaP student Lily Wilson’s latest film, a new EP from L5 MaP student Jack Piper, and L6 Tech Theatre student Alfie Inne’s work experience on the new The Time Traveller’s Wife musical, alongside news of recent creative projects by Jo Scott, Malcolm Raeburn, and Ali Matthews, plus much, much more.
There’s an opportunity for you to present at a conference celebrating 100 years of Disney, and we’re also asking you to help shape the newsletter going forward. We want to know about the kind of content you’d like to see and the format you’d like to see it in – please complete this short survey to give us your views. Don’t forget to check out our Guess the Performer feature, either – can you guess who the luvvie is?
Finally, we’d like to introduce you to our new Student Editor, Robyn Misha. Robyn is on the hunt for all your success stories, reviews, jokes, calls for contributors, and more. So, if there’s something that you’d like to shout about, let him know!
Abby, Bron, and Robyn 😊
Abby Bentham: A.A.Bentham@salford.ac.uk
Brainne Edge: B.Edge@salford.ac.uk
Robyn Misha: R.Misha@edu.salford.ac.uk
Introducing Robyn Misha
By Robyn Misha, BA Media and Performance, L4.
My name is Robyn Misha. I am studying Media and Performance and I am an aspiring director and scriptwriter. I love writing about film and theatre and praising hard work done by others. I have a lot of interest in filmmaking, scriptwriting, SFX makeup, and art. If anyone is interested in promoting yourself or your work, I would be pleased to get to work with you.
Industry Chat Podcast
By Brainne Edge
Abbi Clarke is a newly employed LX technician currently on tour with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She talks to us about her journey into the business as well as what it’s like on a yearlong tour as a lighting technician.
Click the link to find the podcast! https://anchor.fm/radio-comedy-project/episodes/Staff-Student-Newsletter-Chat-Time—Abbi-Clarke–Nov-2022-e1qro7l
The Good Night Out Guide
By Dr Abby Bentham
The social side of university is really important: you’re exploring the city, meeting new people, and trying new experiences. We want you to have a good time, but it’s vital to keep an eye on your safety, too. To help you to do this, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority has put together a Good Night Out Guide, designed to keep you safe whilst doing the things you love. Check it out:
Show Me the Funny
“I confessed to my friend that I was obsessed with the band Pulp, but she didn’t understand, she just smiled and held my hand….“
–Joy Harris, L6 MAP
Got your own firecracker of a joke for the next edition? Email the editorial team and let us know!
GUESS THE PERFORMER!
By Dr Abby Bentham
Can you recognise this squish-faced luvvie? Bonus points if you recognise the advert/era this still was grabbed from!
Answer at the bottom of the newsletter.
Mushroom Language and Pink Oyster Music
By Dr Ali Matthews
Photo Credits- Drew Forsyth
Over the past year, Ali Matthews has been researching the world of mycology (mushroom science). She has been exploring how artists and creative practitioners are mobilising the metaphorical prompts offered by nature’s symbiotic relationships – specifically in the worlds of mycology and forest ecology. To do this, she is interviewing mycological experts including urban edible mushroom farmers, truffle hunters and lab-based mycologists at Royal Kew Gardens as well as artists working with mycological concept, and hoping to build a research network from her findings. She is also developing a Practice as Research (PAR) project in the form of a show called Mushroom Language, a camp eco-horror show about the cycles that shape us – eruption, reproduction and decay. To make this, she worked with a team of artists from different disciplines (a composer, a performer/devisor, two designers and a socially-engaged practice artist working with food) to investigate mycological concepts and themes. This show has been developed through support from Arts Council England and the British Mycological Society, and will premiere in full production in October 2023.
In tandem with this project, Ali has been recording and beginning to release music under the name Pink Oyster. This original music project weaves eerie harmonies together into a gothic American sound. Music blog York Calling referred to her first single, “Cheekbone Queen”, as “dark and absorbing…a very special track.” On 8 October (UK Fungus Day), Ali played her first Pink Oyster show with a full band at Station South in Levenshulme as part of an event she co-organised called “You Are A Mushroom”, a day of fungal celebrations including workshops in foraging & mushroom cultivation and mushroom canapés for which she secured British Mycological Society/UK Fungus Day funding. Follow Pink Oyster on Spotify or other music streaming platforms for upcoming releases! @pinkoystermusic
Third year technical theatre student works on The Time Traveller’s Wife!
By Robyn Misha
Recently, Level 6 Technical Theatre student Alfie Innes had the amazing opportunity to work on the musical The Time Traveller’s Wife, working in the technical theatre department. Over his time working on The Time Traveller’s Wife, his role was to create the Follow Spot Cue Sheet, as well as cueing the Spots on the dress runs and the first night of the show. He also spent time updating regular lighting cue sheets to keep track of each lighting cue, what it does, what is used, and what it looks like on stage. It seems to me like a very challenging role to play in the theatre, which Alfie absolutely smashed!
When I asked Alfie why he feels so connected to the theatre he said, “The thing I enjoy most about Theatre is how personal the whole viewing experience is. Despite sitting with a collective audience, the way you experience a show, the performance, the technical element, is all unique and for that whole time, you forget everything around you and immerse yourself in the story unfolding in front of you.” As a performer, I absolutely agree with what Alfie has said here. The theatre is a magical place, but it wouldn’t be nearly as magical and immersive without the often-underappreciated tech team.
Alfie got this amazing opportunity through his tutor Kelli Zezulka. He saw the opportunity in an email telling him and his classmates that there was an opportunity to work with Lighting Designer Lucy Carter. After sending a CV and cover letter, Alfie got a spot on the team! When I asked Alfie for any advice for others wanting to go into a similar career, he said “just stick at what you love and focus on what you want to focus on in your career in theatre. If an opportunity for you comes along, just grab it! I was lucky enough to get this by chance, I suppose. It’s very rare that things like this happen and in theatre, it’s all about building connections. So, while others may not necessarily have the same experience as me, working on what you love and building connections with other people sure is the way to go! Put yourself and your work out there and the connections will surely follow!”
Despite his amazing work, Alfie did face some challenges when going onto this production. This being his professional debut, he found it a bit intimidating being sat with and working with award-winning creatives on a brand-new musical and, as you can imagine, that would be a lot of pressure to handle! However, Alfie stuck to his work and overcame his fears and became a great member of the team and met some amazing people that I am sure he will continue to be friends with after his time on the show. It is easy to let fears like these take you away from your work, but I say take it like Alfie, strive through and put your best foot forward. What’s the worst that can happen?
If you’d like to see Alfie’s work firsthand, you can see some of his lighting design work at the upcoming show “Songs I Want to Play Live” at the New Adelphi Theatre on Nov. 4th and 5th. He is also currently in rehearsals as the Technical Production Manager and Lighting Designer of Almost Famous Theatre Company’s Production of “Fame: The Musical” performing in the New Adelphi Theatre Feb. 16th, 17th and 18th in 2023. Alfie invites those interested in doing technical work on this show to apply here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdi40LptZklYjVcf2Bq2NOPjt8Z-jhP9Ul60TWGVH9SscF0qw/viewform
To all the technical theatre workers that may be reading this, including Alfie, I’d just like to say thank you for your service to the theatre. As a performer and director, I admire the work you put into each show and how your involvement can instantly improve the quality of a performance.
The Downing Street Doppelganger
By Malcolm Raeburn
As I teach TV Acting and, from time to time, radio acting, it is great to get the opportunity to refresh my own skills in a professional setting. In early July 2022 I recorded The Downing Street Doppelgänger for BBC Radio 4 Drama, written by Jim Poyser (who also adapted Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, in which I appeared, and which went out last year; as well as being a great writer, Jim is also a producer of TV shows such as Brassic and Death in Paradise). It was directed by Gary Brown, Senior Radio Producer and one-time tutor at Salford University (he taught me on the MA Scriptwriting of blessed memory). The play starred John Thomson, star of The Fast Show and Cold Feet, and featured a number of seasoned radio drama professionals, including the wonderful Verity Henry, who has taught on our Screen Acting MA, and Jonathan Keeble, voice behind a thousand audiobooks.
Jim Poyser studied Russian at Oxford and has adapted a number of short stories by the great Russian satirist Gogol. I was in Jim’s radio adaptation of Gogol’s The Overcoat for the BBC and, with Jim’s permission, directed a version with students at Ohio Northern University.
The Downing Street Doppelgänger is a satire on the workings of government, somewhat in the tradition of Gogol. Like Gogol’s The Government Inspector, the comedy stems from a wildly unlikely person being taken for a grandee, in this case the Prime Minister, with the connivance of Whitehall mandarins. I played one of these high-up civil servants, as well as a chirpy cockney shopkeeper and a Russian spy, complete with laid-on-with-a-trowel Russian accent. One of the joys of performing radio drama is multi-roling and another is the chance to play roles one would never be cast as in vision. Previously I have played an assassin, a boxer, a vampire and an Icelandic trawlerman, a slightly greater range of roles compared to the succession of police officers, lawyers and doctors I have played on screen!
The play went out on the 8th October. If you would like to hear it, you can find it via this link on BBC Sounds:
Jack Piper drops Do Not Disturb EP
By Dr Abby Bentham
In September, L5 MaP student, Jack Piper, released his first music project: a collaborative 6-track EP with rapper Stonez, entitled ‘Do Not Disturb’. This project has so far amassed over 40,000 streams on Spotify, and the subsequent two music videos that Jack released are currently sitting at a combined 20,000 views on YouTube. Four of the six tracks have also been added to the prestigious ‘Bl@ckbox Certified’ playlist on Spotify, which you can listen to here. Jack cites artists such as Just Banco, Nafe Smallz, and Ed Sheeran as some of his influences and inspirations.
Jack has found the skills he’s developed on his degree have helped him to hone his confidence, composure and charisma whilst performing. In fact, Salford is so close to his heart that he even filmed his second music video on the MediaCity campus!
You can listen to Jack’s music on Spotify here The video for ‘Call Back’ from the Do Not Disturb EP is available here. The video for ‘Loaded’, which was filmed at MediaCity, can be viewed here.
Wilding the Smart City- creating sound walks in Manchester
By Dr Jo Scott
Image Credit- Scott Millar
How often have you stopped to look at the weeds growing out of the pavement or wall that you walk past?
Do you ever think about all the different ways that you are being watched and tracked by cameras and sensors as you walk around the city?
In the early months of 2022, I set out to explore the types of wild nature that grow right in the heart of Manchester – I was looking at the Buddleia sprouting out of arches below railway tracks, the moss and lichen blooming on canal walls, the city trees and forgotten parts of the city that haven’t quite been developed…not yet anyway. At the same time, I was looking out for CCTV cameras and artificially intelligent sensors that track our movement and monitor air quality, traffic and flows of people in urban spaces.
This was all part of a research project called Wilding the Smart City. Through this project I wanted to reveal the hidden pockets of nature and invisible technologies that are all around us in the city. To do this, I made two geo-located sound walks, using the mobile application Echoes. Echoes allows you to position sound in physical spaces, so that when participants with the app walk into that physical space, the sound is automatically activated through the GPS tracking on their phone. I got feedback from participants through testing the walks in April and they were made public this summer. So far, more than 200 people have tried them out – they are free to download through Echoes – so if you have a spare hour in the city, do give them a go. Sound walks are a really engaging way to get to know those hidden corners and elements of spaces you might walk through every day.
- The Wild Nature Trail sound walk guides participants on a circular route through central Manchester. It reveals and highlights the presence and activity of wild nature in the city, in the form of plants, trees and waterways that exist in overlooked, abandoned or in-between spaces. It is available to download here.
- Wanders in the (Wild) Smart City also guides participants on a circular route through the city. This sound walk explores the networked digital processes that are happening all around us in new, smart cities, through technologies which are embedded in the urban environment, but which often remain invisible to us. It is available to download here.
Work Exhausts, a short film on mental health and exhaustion
By Lily Wilson
Mental health has always been something which I personally have had a rocky relationship with. Throughout college, I pushed myself to work as hard as humanly possible. I became obsessed with studying to get the best A-Level results, and at the end of my two years at college I was left with no social life, was severely burnt out, and exhausted.
Since then, I have got a lot better at limiting study and dealing with my worry, but I wanted to create something which shows how monstrous pressure and overworking can be. The short film, which I created with Daniel Caddick, my first-year flat mate and very good friend, focuses on the exhaustion, study anxiety, depression, and feelings of worthlessness that can sometimes be experienced by students.
The short film follows the life of an unnamed student who is obsessed with study, who then isolates herself from everything else. This consumes her physically as well as mentally, reflecting how many other people feel when in similar situations.
This was my first time acting for the camera and creating my own short film. To start the creative process, I created a mind map and explored the connotations of stress and exhaustion. This led me to have many ideas for different camera shots. I then wrote the selected shots on a whiteboard so I could visualize how the piece would look. This part of the process took the longest, as I wanted to make sure that it communicated the core message of the piece as effectively as possible. This was then transferred onto a Word document which Daniel and I discussed and edited. We then began filming, which was one of my favorite parts of the whole process. We experimented with camera angles, and once we were happy with the footage Daniel edited it.
We were so happy with the result that we agreed to do more projects like this in the future. We did this for the DIY Film Competition; we completed this process in 3 days as we had found out about the competition only 6 days before the deadline. We had to work quickly but we both enjoyed every minute of it.
You can view the film here: https://youtu.be/6Q_PSIHEgqM
Helen Mason hits the airwaves!
By Helen Mason
After a detour from her radio career, to focus on TV presenting and sharing her skills with some very lucky students, Helen Mason has hit the airwaves once more. Here, she tells us about her amazing career:
“I began my radio career back in the late 1980s, presenting an evening 70s dance show on Radio DRH, a hospital radio station in Buxton. I was at the time a local DJ too and have played YMCA to many a bride and groom!
In 1999, a local radio station set up an RSL, which is a restricted service licence in Buxton, in a porta cabin for 2 weeks in the car park outside the Town Hall. My Mum worked there and, needless to say, I didn’t believe her when she said there was a radio station under her office window, and she’d told them all about me!
I got in touch with them, and my radio career took off properly from there. I went on to take the Drive Time show on High Peak Radio from 2004 until 2013 and enjoyed opening events, joining carnivals and doing live broadcasts from some very strange places!
Alongside this I had a show on UK Undiscovered, a relatively new online radio station. There, I enjoyed interviewing bands both live on air and up and down the country. At one point I was pretty much touring with a number of X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent stars! Although I left radio to go into TV, I always missed playing music for a living so when I was offered the chance to present a show on a new online station called Peak Sound Radio, I jumped at it!
I am now the Breakfast Show presenter on Tuesday mornings between 7 -10am and am back to playing a mix of new and classic tracks, plus creating music-based features where I can share my love of original artists and covers.
Download the app and have a listen to me on Tuesday mornings – it’s the perfect way to start your day!”
Talbot in Egypt!
By Dr Richard Talbot
I was invited to the Cairo International Festival For Experimental Theatre, (CIFET, 29th edition), from 1-8 September 2022). I sat on a jury reviewing 14 plays from Austria, Canada, Egypt, Greece, Kuwait, Tunisia, Syria, and USA, awarding prizes. That’s me on the red carpet, with colleagues from Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Poland, and Sweden. The President of the Festival, Dr Gamal Yakout is 4th from left. The festival was like the Oscars: serious, glamorous, grandiose, but also a massive celebration of creativity and research.
I joined academics and artists from around the Middle East for a daily seminar series. My article Experiments In Therapeutic Participatory Theatre In Virtual Spaces Using Clowning And Puppetry about participatory theatre was published in the festival’s conference proceedings and presented at the panel “The Presence of Technology in the Scenography of Today’s Theaters of the World”, chaired by Dr Ahmed Barakat (2nd from Right), also on the panel was Iraqi academic Dr Emad Hadi El Khafagi. To my left is the festival director, the artist Saeed Kabeel.
My certificate for giving a presentation at the Intellectual Hub of the Festival, and a commemorative coin for membership of the Festival Jury.
You can find some of Richard’s blogs here-
Greater Manchester Theatre Highlights: Semester 1
Dr Stephen M Hornby
The Lowry is the major arts complex in Salford, with a large main stage (The Lyric), a second theatre (The Quays), a studio and an art gallery. Their programme for this season includes the National Theatre’s touring production of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Frantic Assembly’s Othello which, following acclaimed runs in 2008 and 2014, is returning with an updated version.
Manchester’s leading producing house and home of the prestigious Bruntwood Prize for playwriting. Their programme includes Betty! A Sort of Musical by Maxine Peake and Seiriol Davies who also star in this brand-new production which is bound to get a lot of national interest.
HOME is a city centre arts venue with a main house, a studio, five screens of cinema and an art gallery. Vinay Patel radically reimagines Chekhov’s play The Cherry Orchard 2022 in a world premiere production directed by James Macdonald, and there’s The Dan Daw Show exploring issues of sexuality and body joined by Christopher Owen (Scottish Dance Theatre).
Hope Mill Theatre
The most successful fringe venue in Manchester, often mentioned in The Stage. They specialise in musicals but have a varied programme, including the premiere of the 2013 Broadway production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella the Musical, and Manchester ADP a monthly sharing of new writing by local playwrights, seeking audience feedback and development opportunities.
Contact has completed a refurbishment and is now fully operational. This season’s programme includes Last Gasp by Split Britches, icons of lesbian-feminist theatre, and Daytime Deewane which is inspired by the daytime raves of 1990s British Asian culture and explores the beauty and struggle of living with a multi-cultural identity as a teenager. It is also a local centre for under-30 talent development with their acclaimed Young Company.
The Octagon has emerged from a massive rebuilding programme. They offer some interesting writing workshops and a full, live programme including their seasonal production of A Christmas Carol and the monthly themed First Bites, which are rehearsed readings of new writing, often from local talent.
Peer Hat and Fierce Bar
My Top Three Picks
If I had three shows I could go to this season, I’d pick these….but that’s not a guarantee of anything!
- Frantic Assembly: Othello, The Lowry (15th -19th November)
- Betty! A Sort Of Musical, Royal Exchange (3rd December – 14th January)
- The Dan Daw Show HOME (1st– 3rd December)
Please be aware that all shows may have adult content and each venues webpage listings should be consulted for any content notes.
Guess who’s back? Back Again…
By Dr Abby Bentham
After a period of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re delighted to report that the New Adelphi Theatre is back for its Autumn/Winter season! A varied and pocket-friendly programme of performance, music, dance, and comedy will run until December, so visit www.newadelphitheatre.co.uk to book your tickets now! Your visit will be enhanced by a fabulous, 20-strong ushering team made up of current L5 and L6 students from TaPP, MaP, CWaP and English, Performance alumni, and CPP and Screen Acting alumni. Their passion and professionalism make our theatre extra special. You can see some of them pictured, alongside New Adelphi Theatre staff, by the box office at a recent performance of See US Dance.
It’s your newsletter, so have your say!
We want to newsletter to reflect the things that you’re interested in. Please complete this short survey (there are only three questions!) to let us know what you’d like to see: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=QCm1Zbb0vUGDPTAz7Lz24SQg8Daoh15JkFmBhhDpdTJUMThQT1RCMjlXWFpKNVhMVDFKNUVaRzNLRC4u
Disney Conference- Call for papers
Hannah Helm, a postgraduate researcher in English, is co-organising a Disney Studies conference as part of the DisNet research network. The conference, entitled ‘Disney at 100 Years: Everlasting Entertainment and a Spellbinding Future’, will reflect on the past, present, and future of conversations around Disney Studies and celebrate the centenary of the Walt Disney Company. It will be entirely free to attend and held online on 26-29th June 2023.
Papers from established academics, practitioners, and students are warmly encouraged. More details about the conference themes can be found in the CFP:
IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS WITH OUR EMPLOYABILITY MASTERCLASSES
These masterclasses are designed for students in BA Theatre and Performance, Tech Theatre, Media and Performance, Comedy Writing and Performance, MA Screen Acting and @macppsalford.
The first five EMP sessions will take place on Zoom every Tuesday in November, from 3:30pm – 5:30pm.
To find out more, look out for EMP announcements on Blackboard!
Robyn- Makeup and SFX Makeup
By Robyn Misha
My name is Robyn and I do a lot of work with makeup and SFX makeup. I began working in this area when I was 8 years old as Halloween has always been a big event in my family so I can do lots of cool effects with SFX makeup. If anyone is interested in working with me for film or theatre, contact me via email at R.Misha@edu.salford.ac.uk
GUESS THE PERFORMER – THE ANSWER!
By Dr Abby Bentham
Yes, that’s right, this is our very own Wilkie, starring in the legendary ’24 toasters from Scunthorpe’ ad from the 1980s! The advert was for Mobil’s premier card loyalty scheme and used the classic Gene Pitney track ’24 hours from Tulsa’. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQqUCd9zfS0