Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of the Staff/Student Newsletter!
As always, it’s packed to bursting with incredible content – a testament to the extraordinarily rich and vibrant culture in our Performance community.
We’ve got Networking Tips from Christine Pyke who lectures in Media Production and Film Production and has a 30-year pedigree as a journalist, writer, reporter and producer in newspapers, radio and television. We also bring news of the imminent launch of a large-scale and hugely exciting comedy-based research project, plus details of the radio dramas, digital content, literary output and comedy shows that our staff and students are sharing with the world.
We are thrilled to announce that second year student, Damon Hutchinson Mann, is currently celebrating after his friend and long-time collaborator won a highly prestigious £10,000 award that will allow their theatre company to stage a fabulous new musical in one of Sheffield’s finest theatres!
There are opportunities for you, too, via the Graduate Scholarship Awards and a call for participants in a research and development workshop with Theatre Re! You can also learn which of our marvellous students have been nominated for a Create Award.
This edition sees the launch of our new ‘Guess the Performer’ feature. In each edition, we’ll be including a shot of one of the Performance staff in action on the stage – it’s up to you to guess who it is. Bonus points if you can also guess the show!
This issue goes out on the birthday of our very own Brainne Edge – join us in wishing her the very best of days! We’re sure she’d agree that the best present you could give is your continued support of the newsletter, so keep on sending us all your news, views and reviews.
Abby, Bron, Emi, and Lucy 😊
Abby Bentham: A.A.Bentham@salford.ac.uk Brainne Edge: B.Edge@salford.ac.uk Emily Frith: E.M.Frith@edu.salford.ac.uk Lucy Booth: L.C.Booth@edu.salford.ac.uk
SALFORD STUDENT IN WONDERLAND AFTER LLOYD WEBBER RECOGNITION
By Abby Bentham
Second year Theatre and Performance Practice student, Damon Hutchinson-Mann, is currently celebrating after his friend and long-time collaborator, Ewan Fellows, won a prestigious theatre award that will kickstart their professional careers. Damon and Ewan set up their company, Knew Theatre, in April 2020 and have spent the last six months trying to raise funds to finance their first production, a piece of musical theatre entitled Alive in Wonderland. The show, an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic novel, Alice In Wonderland, draws on contemporary events and explores topical issues such as the pandemic and trouble with the Royal family! However, their Kickstarter failed to hit its target and Damon and Ewan feared that the project would never get off the ground.
Help arrived in the shape of the Evening Standard Future Theatre Fund in association with TikTok and in partnership with the National Youth Theatre. The Future Theatre Fund is a prestigious competition with a prize pot of £120,000, set up to help new talent whose careers have been stymied by the pandemic. With two winners for each of the six categories, the Fund has the potential to transform the lives of twelve upcoming theatre makers: each of the winners takes home a prize of £10,000 as well as being allocated a high-profile industry mentor, who will provide support and guidance as each project is brought to life. Ewan submitted a witty TikTok entry video in which he sang about the show and things took off from there. His video was selected as a winner of the Break Out Star category, voted for unanimously by a 13-strong panel of judges including legendary composer and theatre impresario, Andrew Lloyd Webber; the Artistic Director of the Young Vic, Kwame Kwei-Armah; and Paul Roseby, who is the Artistic Director and CEO of the National Youth Theatre. From there, things moved very quickly, with Damon recalling how ‘We only found out about the nomination one week before we won.’
With the financial future of the project now secure, Damon and Ewan are immersed in bringing the show to the stage. Damon will be directing Alive in Wonderland, which was written by Ewan and has a dramatic structure and an epic form. The show uses Brechtian devices such as multi-roling and music; its score of 48 original tracks was composed solely by Ewan. Although Damon has directing experience, this will be his first time on a project of this scale.
‘I’ve never directed a show this big and I’m loving the challenge,’ he said. ‘It’s incredibly exciting and a huge opportunity for the entire cast and crew.’ With casting complete, rehearsals are now underway. Alive in Wonderland will be performed at one of Sheffield’s leading theatres in Spring 2022, although the venue is yet to be confirmed.
You can get all the latest news about the show by following its official social media accounts. Search Instagram and Facebook for ‘Alive in Wonderland Musical’ and subscribe for updates. We’ll also be featuring the latest news about the project in the Staff/Student Newsletter.
Congratulations Damon and Ewan! Salford is proud of you!
STAFF HINTS AND TIPS ON THE BIZ!
By Emily Frith
In this edition, we get some fantastic hints and tips from Christine Pyke!
Christine Pyke, who lectures in Media Production and Film Production in the School of Arts, Media & Creative Technologies, has been involved in the media industries for over 30 years as a journalist, writer, reporter and producer in newspapers, radio and television. She also develops and delivers training courses to industry professionals across the UK. This is combined with 20 years part-time lecturing at the University of Salford and other institutions on a variety of film and media-based programmes, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.
Christine is committed to helping raise skill levels in the media and creative technology industries and is involved in an exciting new training venture based at MCUK – supported by UoS – which is due to be launched imminently! We’ll be featuring the launch closer to the time, so watch this space!
Christine is passionate about networking and the important role it plays in professional life. She told us: “I learned the value of networking early in my media career, working as a journalist in my first job at the brilliantly named Braintree and Witham Times in Essex. Working on any story from planning, health, coroner’s courts, golden weddings, and more, gave me the opportunity to build relationships with people and share and receive information.”
Christine continues to network strategically and spends time each week making contact with key colleagues and researching the latest media news, so that she’s always up-to-date.
What are your top networking tips?
Networking is a vital part of getting a job in the media industry; it helps to build up a network of people you can call on for help, advice and jobs. It is a skill which can be learned and built upon as you progress. Remember:
- Networking is simply sharing information, ideas and contacts with others.
- Sometimes you will be giving information and sometimes receiving it.
- Your potential network stretches beyond work and is unlimited.
- 10% is how good you are
- 30% is on the image you present
- 60% is dependent on exposure!
What are common excuses or myths around networking?
- “It is for the well-connected” – No, we can all build a network, it just takes time.
- “It is cynical” – No, it is an accepted and vital part of gaining contacts.
- “It is for confident people” – No, you just need to be strategic and committed.
- “It’s false and manipulative” – No, people can’t be forced to join your network.
- “It is scary and difficult” – Yes, it can be, but you have to reach out to employers.
- “It is simply selling yourself” – Yes, it is letting people know what skills you have.
What are the best ways to network effectively?
- Engage with potential employers so they know you exist through email, social media, and phone calls.
- Make sure you are familiar with a company’s work and regularly check their website and social media for their latest news.
- Draw up a manageable list of companies you want to contact and draw up a portfolio of work to show them.
- Attend as many relevant media events as you can, even online, as you will pick up vital information and may get noticed.
Remember the Networking Cycle:
Stage 1: Be Proactive
Stage 2: Make Contact
Stage 3: Effort = Results
Stage 4: Don’t Disappear
Stage 5: Consolidate
So, get to it – it’s never too early to start building your personal and professional networks!
You can reach Christine via email: C.Pyke@salford.ac.uk
‘TITS AND GIGGLES’ – LOTTIE BLACKLOCK ON HER WOMEN’S COMEDY NIGHT PROJECT!
By Emily Frith
Lottie Blacklock, your student election runner–up for Women’s Officer, believes that there is a vast amount of room for improvement regarding women’s issues during student life at university and that the role could be much more interactive to help students access support if they need.
As part of her campaign, Lottie was most excited about working with the School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology to organise more entertainment events for women. The idea she had vividly in her mind was a women’s comedy night called ‘Tits & Giggles’. Lottie is a second year Comedy Writing & Performance student and stand–up comedy has always been an immense passion of hers. She has taken part in several open mic nights at the university and has thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work on her material. However, during her studies Lottie noticed an imbalance between the men and women taking part.
She explains, “Stand-up is incredibly intimidating if you’ve never done it before so I think that is a big contributing factor. But, more than that, historically and traditionally stand-up is seen as a male activity. I think it’s natural for women to be scared or nervous when standing up in front of a room predominantly full of men – before even thinking about trying to make them laugh. What I want to do is create a safe and welcoming environment where women can perform comedy and speak freely and not have to worry about pleasing everyone in the room but to simply just enjoy themselves. I believe this would be massively beneficial to female–identifying students who have never done stand–up before. My aim is to make the show a very inclusive and safe atmosphere. Although it is an event for women, everyone is invited to watch and support.”
Lottie is currently in the early stages of turning ‘Tits & Giggles’ into a reality and is hoping that the event will take place once a month. She will be inviting some of the women on her course to participate as stand-up comics and MCs and is currently putting her ideas together in order to pitch it to the School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology.
Once COVID restrictions allow, Lottie hopes to have more information on the show.
If you would like to email Lottie with questions, you can find her at email@example.com.
SHOW ME THE FUNNY!
“The other day I put so much petrol in my car… I couldn’t get in it!”
-Vic Reeves, joke submitted by Brainne Edge
Got your own firecracker of a joke for the next edition? Email the editorial team and let us know!
CREATE STUDENTS AWARDS – SHORTLISTERS ANNOUNCED!
By Brainne Edge
The Directorate’s list of nominees and shortlisters for the Create Student Awards have been announced! These annual awards highlight those students who have gone above and beyond their assigned tasks and modules while at the University and have set themselves apart in their achievements.
Our nominees for the Performance, English & Creative Writing Award this year were: Grace Bastyan, Charlotte Cropper, Joseph Greenaway, Benton-James Hodge, Peter Hodgson, Sarah Johnson, Aislinn Stanway, Rada Yordanova.
From this, Benton-James Hodge has been shortlisted for the Create Citizenship Award and Charlotte Cropper has been shortlisted for the Dean’s Award – both Media and Performance students. We wish them luck through the judging process and want to extend our congratulations to all our students for their nominations!
One of our Creative Writing and Performance students, Maisy Whipp, won the award in our Directorate in 2020. You can see what she had to say here.
GUESS THE PERFORMER!
By Brainne Edge
Can you guess who is centre stage in this image from the past? One of our staff, and your tutors, was treading the boards back in the late 80’s in this classic Willy Russell play. But who is it… and what was the play? Answers at the end of the newsletter…
KICKSTART YOUR CAREER WITH THE GRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP AWARD!
By Niki Woods
The Performance Graduate Scholarship Programme allows graduates from performance disciplines including Theatre, Creative Media Practice, Music, Dance, Comedy, and Spoken Word/Poetry, the money, time and resources to experiment and take risks with their creative practice within a supportive framework.
The programme is designed to provide graduates with an opportunity to develop their skills and professional experience, and includes an award of £3,000, practice space in the New Adelphi building, access to mentoring and coaching from professional artists, and a showcase of their project, or work in progress, in a New Adelphi Theatre space. The bursary will allow us to fund four graduating students with awards worth £3,000 each.
What are they looking for?
The four successful applicants will be self-motivated and able to commit to the programme for 12 months (on a part-time basis). Applicants are not expected to have a fixed plan as to what they would do during the programme, but they must demonstrate ideas and ambitions in their chosen field, as well as the commitment and drive to make them happen.
What's in the scholarship package?
Scholarships are to be administered through the School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology, and you will be supported by the New Adelphi Theatre team: Artistic Director, Niki Woods; Venue Development Manager, Mark Fox; Audience and Digital Engagement, Ash Cox; and Marketing Digital Content Creation, Hannah Briggs.
The full £3k will be assigned as follows:
- £1k to recipient as their Personal Development Fund, to be used at their discretion to support their development throughout the year. This can act as a fee.
- £1k would be used for Coaching or Mentoring sessions. This might be for the recipient to invite an artist of their choice to work with them as Director, Dramaturge or Editor, for example, or for the recipient to complete a career development course or further training. The New Adelphi Theatre team can help the recipients find the most appropriate mentors.
- The remaining £1k can be used for Performance Development, e.g. to purchase tech kit, props, set build, travel, etc.
The application process, and the method of disbursing the funds will allow the recipient to:
- experience application writing;
- attend an interview if shortlisted;
- establish skills in budgeting and following a schedule;
- do regular project reporting to the NAT team and the Alumni Engagement team;
- share creative materials with the donors and with a wider audience;
- share a final piece – to be scheduled through New Adelphi Theatre (this can be a work in progress).
Recipients would be able to access rehearsal space at New Adelphi free of charge, subject to timetabling commitments and potential out-of-hours estates cost.
The deadline for completed applications is 9am on Tuesday 4th of May. We aim to shortlist applicants for interview by Monday 10th of May. Interviews are scheduled for Monday 17th of May (most likely on Teams).
By Niki Woods
Can you spare an hour to be part of a research and development workshop with Theatre Re? Theatre Re are an International Theatre Ensemble lead by Artistic Director, Guillaume Pigé.
Theatre Re are about to embark on a new piece called Folktale Project (working title).
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – Neil Gaiman
For this new project Theatre Re are diving into the world of ancient tales to explore parenthood, responsibility, and what it means to protect. While embracing the magic, the surreal and the absurd of these stories, they want to also unravel what a modern re-construction for these tales can be. This exploration stems from an obscure desire for a poetic revenge on our time and the need for hope.
In terms of the session itself, you will explore what care/protection/overprotection mean to you and how these themes are not just ‘long ago and far away’ but also truly recognisable contemporary experiences. You will be guided to unravel how you connect with these themes on a personal level. Your participation will help the company carry on the devising process – one that is both firmly rooted in the imagination and the real human experience.
Students would need to prepare for the session by choosing their favourite tale and selecting three things that they like or dislike and be ready to talk about them. This should not take too much time and should very much be an instinctive response.
Read more about the company HERE.
There are eight places, and the session will take place week beginning 5th May, 4.30-5.30pm. If there is a lot of interest, the company will run the session twice, to allow for more people to join in.
If you would like to book a place, please email Niki Woods by no later than Wednesday 28th April. Her address is firstname.lastname@example.org
CAST AWAY – REVIEW
By Evan Dottridge, second year Media and Performance student
What would you do if you were stranded on an isolated island? This is a broad question that most people are asked at some point in their life. Cast Away (2001) answers that one simple question with one simple answer: survive. Robert Zemeckis’s Cast Away lavishes viewers with spotless moviemaking that combines brutal realism, flawless special effects and brilliant acting, with a fail–safe storyline. Tom Hanks is cast as protagonist Noland, a FedEx employee in a stable family relationship. When his cargo plane goes blazing down in a spectacular crash, laying testimony to the special effects used within the film, Noland is left marooned on an island for four years. During this insufferable time, he is forced to survive immense hardships such as performing his own gut–wrenching dentistry with the blade from an ice skate and fighting off his ever-growing loneliness by fraternizing with a football.
Zemeckis shows off his directorial prowess with some interesting camera techniques early on in the film; the audience follows a parcel which is being delivered to Russia, the camera being attached onto the parcel as it travels, principally being waist height to the actors the entire time. Tom Hanks’s acting leaves no doubt as to why he is considered such an esteemed actor. His well-trained gestural acting aids the non–dialogue script, found predominantly in his facial expressions during pain-driven scenes such as when his feet are gashed by sharp, jutting rocks on the seabed as he’s treading water. When Noland does speak, Hanks delivers his lines in his trademark naturalistic manner – even to the inanimate football! – which only reinforces his standing in the industry. The movie was filmed on one of the Mamanuca islands in Fiji. This location impressed an eye–catching cinematography for the audience, allowing a mixture of bright shoreline blues and yellows, a colour scheme which is rather incongruous with the film’s overriding themes of desperation and isolation.
Unfortunately, the movie suffers an underwhelming finale. A stereotypical soppy American romantic plotline is introduced during the epilogue, and an ambiguous ending is delivered to the audience using a rather unoriginal ‘crossroad’ metaphor. Whilst this may leave a bad taste in the mouth of viewers, it doesn’t detract from the film as a whole which remains an excellently performed and directorially wonderful piece of cinema.
A CATCH UP WITH CROPPER!
By Lucy Booth
Charlotte Cropper is a Media and Performance student, currently in the final year of her studies. I reached out to talk to her about her recent show that she created, Curio Comedy: Salford Showcase, as well as her third year PRP, Edit Profile.
Hi Charlotte, thank you so much for joining me for this interview! It seems to have been a busy month for you! First up, I would love to ask you about your recent success with the Curio Comedy: Salford Showcase if I may. How was it, seeing your vision come to life?
Hey Lucy, thank you so much for inviting me to chat! It has been a wild time. I haven’t really had time to relax yet, but I guess that’s what the empty abyss of graduation is for, right? Right?!
It was an absolute dream to put on Curio Comedy: Salford Showcase. From my first pitch about “comics sat in teacups – sat in a cabinet” to then months later watching this fully formed show premiere on the New Adelphi Theatre’s YouTube channel…it was just magical.
How was working with a wonderful cabinet of acts?
It was fantastic! The University is so lucky to be home to such amazing comedic talent from students and alumni. I feel incredibly privileged to have so many fabulous acts eager to take part, all with different comedy styles. They made the showcase eclectic and energetic and I’m so grateful for their hard work during such a weird time of our lives!
Are they still in the cabinet? Are you going to let them out anytime soon?
Haha! I like to think the acts will always be, in some way, inside the Salford Cabinet of Curiosities, with a link to their world and a connection to the world of whoever next opens those creaky doors!
And do you feel like you can navigate adulthood now?
The murky blur of adulthood definitely cleared throughout the showcase after calling my trusted phone call advisors, and especially after watching Ash Cox’s incredibly motivating graduation performance, inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen). I do think there’ll always be a part of me that wants to avoid the grown-up world, but I’ve also since discovered that it’s a place rich with adventures!
I have to admit, I remain in awe of your PRP, Edit Profile. (Note to reader - if you haven’t seen it already, you’re missing out!) How was creating your sketch show… in the middle of a global pandemic?
Awe, that’s so kind, thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed watching it. It was bizarre, to be honest! The entire show was filmed in my living room, with green wrapping paper behind me as a makeshift green screen. The costume department was the contents of my wardrobe and I wrote and edited the entire PRP within my bedroom. I feel like there’s a real essence of homemade-ness to the piece (if that’s a word?) which I love, as Edit Profile is all about social media and authenticity as an aspiring comedian. Timewise, we were still at the height of the pandemic when the module started, so my subject area came naturally, as #SaveLiveComedy was trending and lots of people were getting popular on TikTok for comedy videos. The whole PRP experience though, from researching and contacting talent agents, to filming me making out with a plant pot, was just so much fun.
Any upcoming news you’re excited about?
Eeek, yes – I was recently told that the Gatekeeper Sketch from Edit Profile will be shown in the Comedy Tent section of the BBC Upload Festival, on Saturday 1st May on BBC Radio Manchester! The Gatekeeper Sketch is all about how tough and frustrating it is to get your foot into the door of the industry, so my mind was blown when the BBC Upload team rang me and told me they enjoyed it and even related to what I was saying with the sketch.
And finally, is there any advice/worldly wisdom you would like to impart to any performance students who are perhaps afraid of putting their work out there?
Remember that every person that is doing your dream job right now started out where you are. Unsure, unknown, hella terrified.
So, the best thing you can do is take one small step forward towards that dream and put yourself out there. You could film a sketch with a friend so there’s less pressure on your solo performance or work on a creative project as part of a competition so it’s more of a contained experience, but ultimately, I would say bite the bullet and put your work out there anyway. Show the world your perspective, let them watch your creative style develop over the years – your work may attract the interest of people who can help and support you as you grow.
In a more general sense, you can be a cheerleader on Twitter for the people doing your dream job, and keep an eye out there too for creative opportunities. Collaboration can open doors, strengthen existing relationships and make your work even more magical, so if you can – do it! Look at the University channels and UoS_Performance on Instagram, that’s a great place for finding creatives and organisations to work with in the future.
Thank you so much for your time! I, for one, cannot wait to see what the future brings for you Charlotte!
Thank you so much, Lucy! It’s been super-duper lovely.
Be sure to check out Charlotte’s Instagram @croppachoppa where you can watch Edit Profile and keep up to date on her next adventures! You can watch the Curio Comedy show over on YouTube here, or check it out below!
MEMOIR OF A CARER – A NOVEL BY EVAN DOTTRIDGE
By Emily Frith
Lockdown doesn’t have to mean Netflix binges and expanding waistbands. With restrictions in place, Evan Dottridge decided to take a creative leap and began writing his own novel on the social writing platform, Wattpad. In doing so, he realised a long-held ambition: “For years, I have always been interested in writing my own novel. Writing, to me, serves as a form of personal escapism that allows me to delve into made–up worlds that I have formulated myself. It is also a way of proving to myself that I can write a story if I put my head down and work hard at it.”
Evan’s novel is written in the style of a memoir of a young adult who, over the course of three years, cared for numerous patients with different illnesses and disabilities. The inspiration for this story emerged when Evan asked a friend about his experiences of caring for the elderly and vulnerable; he was so inspired by these real–life events that he decided to fictionalise them in his novel.
Evan recalls how: “My friend told me many amusing anecdotes, for example how he cared for a dementia patient who attempted to feed chocolates to his sandwich, or how a patient asked if he could put Christmas lights on his tree in a crisscross pattern, and he subsequently spent forty minutes trying to figure out how to do it.
As challenging as it seemed, I wanted my novel to address themes of mental health (for both the main character, Cameron, and the patients he cares for) and the dissolution of the mind in many elderly people suffering from cognitive illnesses. However, as a way of giving the story a bit of a creative edge, I decided to introduce storylines that revolved around the element of superstition and the supernatural – inspiration that came from my personal love of fantasy and psychological novels. To achieve this, I decided to include a plot where ghosts of past patients would appear, that supposedly only Cameron could see.”
Evan uploads chapters of his novel as and when he has completed them, meaning that the novel is an ongoing project that can be followed on Wattpad. You can click here to check it out!
To ask Evan questions about his novel, you can email him at email@example.com
THE BIG NON-EVENT!
By Dr Ian Wilkie
Two Lecturers from the Comedy Writing and Performance Course, Drs. Richard Talbot and Ian Wilkie, are planning a large scale, interdisciplinary project that aims to look at where (and how) Comedy and Performance Art clash together. The University of Salford’s gigantic Non-Event will consist of a series of Happenings, staged comic art reconstructions, music, gallery exhibitions, films, Dada-ist cabaret and numerous other live events that highlight where Comedy meets Performance Art.
The Project will build on Talbot and Wilkie’s previous research work on laughter, clowning, comic personae, experimental performance and Vaudeville Comedy and Art. The project will continue the theme first introduced in their re-enactment of 1960s Fluxus Group sketches, as performed during the 2019 UoS Festival of Research.
The big Non–Event will happen all over the campus. This bold celebration of the connections between Comedy and Live Art will end with a streamed festival, a discussion panel forum in the form of a ‘Nonference’, and a very special visit from the lost American artist Nat Tate.
Whether you are a Performance, Music, Dance, Art or Media student, do join in and take part in the various non-events and recreations. We will also be looking for Journalism students to publicise the event and Media and Film students to participate in the documentary/mockumentary that will accompany the Big Non-Event.
Moreover, any students and staff who might like to get involved in the epic, large-scale Happening on Peel Park Campus will be extremely welcome to join in!
Please keep an eye out for emerging news about the UoS’ Comedy and Performance Art Project.
THE BURNLEY BUGGERS’ BALL IS NOW ON YOUTUBE!
In the 1970s, Burnley was the UK’s battleground for gay and lesbian rights, with two ground-breaking public struggles at either end of the decade. To mark the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act (1967), LGBT History Month nationally commissioned two brilliant new dramas from Inkbrew Productions to recreate this amazing forgotten history, one of which was The Burnley Buggers’ Ball by Stephen M Hornby, award-winning playwright and Fellow in Drama & Theatre Practice. The plays, funded by the Arts Council of England and private patrons, were performed in February & March 2017 at the original sites of the events in Burnley and toured briefly to Manchester and Liverpool, to rapturous five-star reviews. The Burnley Buggers’ Ball is now available on YouTube, free to view, on the OUTing The Past page (along with its sister piece Burnley’s Lesbian Liberator) here, but you can also check it out below.
The Burnley Buggers’ Ball tells the story of a transformative public meeting held at Burnley Central Library in 1971. The meeting was about the right to open the first ever LGBT centre in old Co-Operative Society premises and saw activists in London join forces with activists from the North West to take on the establishment. Stephen won the Best Drama Award at last year’s Greater Manchester Fringe and is nominated for a Best Fringe Production Award in this year’s Manchester Theatre Awards.
Russell T Davies, the TV writer and producer famous for Doctor Who and Queer As Folk, is a patron of the project and said: “This is precisely what LGBT History Month should be doing, uncovering hidden history, finding great stories and bringing them to life again for new audiences. And who knew they’d both be about Burnley! It’s marvellous to think of this mill town in East Lancashire being the centre of the struggle for UK gay and lesbian rights in the 1970s.”
Professor Sue Sanders, National Chair of LGBT History Month said: “These are little known but crucial events in UK LGBT history. These are the watershed moments of resistance, of self-assertion and collective organisation. These are the moments when we as a community first stood up in public and said, ‘No’. Our work is to unbury these stories that prove that as a community we have been active, aware and clear about the work that needs to be done to ensure both individual rights and civil rights. The dramatisation of these stories brings to life the struggle that all minority communities have gone through to gain their rights.”
LIFE UNDER LOCKDOWN PODCAST WITH STEPHEN M HORNBY
By Abby Bentham
Since December 2020, Salford’s Life Under Lockdown podcast series has explored the lockdown stories of our university community. Each monthly episode takes a different, topical focus, ranging from how our people adapted to the introduction of national restrictions, to wellness, International Women’s Week and the challenges facing the performing arts industry. In February, as the University celebrated LGBT History Month, Life Under Lockdown shone a spotlight on our very own Stephen M Hornby who spoke compellingly about his experience with the LGBT community.
During the podcast, Stephen opens up about some of the most fascinating stories he has explored in his recent work, his forthcoming post-lockdown projects, and how the global pandemic has affected the LGBT community, especially with major events such as Pride being cancelled in 2020.
You can listen to the podcast here, and you can contact Stephen or find out more about his work via the following channels.
TO A MAN AND BOY, BY CHRISTINE PYKE
By Emily Frith
Christine Pyke, who lectures in Media Production and Film Production in the School of Arts, Media & Creative Technologies, is currently writing a radio drama entitled To a Man and Boy, which highlights the issue of mental health in rugby league. Sadly, the sport continues to lose players and officials to suicide.
It’s an important and topical issue, as Christine explains: “My drama centres on a ‘rite of passage’ road journey from St Helens to a Challenge Cup final in Cardiff, with Danny and his grandad Jim in their first difficult conversation about why Danny’s dad, a revered super league player, killed himself. Danny’s mum Helen is featured in a series of flashback scenes with leading psychiatrist Frank Margison, as we explore her grief and anger. Sky Sports and BBC Radio commentator Stuart Pyke provides match commentary. There is light and shade, humour and pathos underpinned on whether Jim’s old Jaguar, his pride and joy – bought during his rugby career – will actually get them to the game.”
Watch this space for details of the drama going live!
ORIGINAL RADIO PLAY, PERSPEX HAND, PREMIERES ON YOUTUBE!
By Abby Bentham
When the lockdown initially brought an end to live performance, many people felt feared they would end up looking into a cultural void. But for third year Theatre and Performance student Marcus Cameron and his colleagues at Soup Productions, the show would go on!
Co-founder and Chair of Soup Productions, Michael Pirks, has explained that ‘It has been on our agenda for a long time to create and produce original radio dramas. When our group had to cease productions due to Covid-19, it was important to create new projects to fill that space for both our members and audience. The original purpose of Soup Stories was to create new short audio dramas written by and starring the Soup cast. These stories included themes and subjects relevant to everyday life and tested our creative output.’
Marcus hit the keyboard and rose admirably to the challenge; his self-penned radio drama, Perspex Hand, premiered on YouTube on March 25th. Released under the tagline ‘An eccentric teacher gives his timid student some unorthodox advice… and it pays off!’, the comedy drama is ably performed by both Marcus and Jamie Pollard with a soundtrack of ABBA hits adding an extra layer of fabulousness. Marcus’s TaPP training is in evidence, as his subject knowledge shines through in the script… although we dread to think who might have inspired the play’s acerbic, volatile, and eccentric teacher!
Marcus’s next drama, Take Me Back To Hell, will air in two parts in the summer. The show follows Detectives Shaw and Lee as they question the only survivor to a horrific crime and struggle with the awful truth that their investigation reveals.
Both of Marcus’s plays, plus other originals from the Soup team, can be streamed and listened to via YouTube, Podbean, Spotify and Facebook. Soup Productions is a not-for-profit community group that specialises in all forms of performance. You can find out more about them by visiting their Facebook page here.
You can listen to Perspex Hand here, or you can check it out below:
LIBBIGAIL, WE LIKE YOUR STYLE!
By Lucy Booth
Libbigail Evans, a second year Media and Performance student, creates online content for her own YouTube channel. I reached out to talk to her about her channel, the audience she hopes to reach and how her studies help her with this social media platform.
Hi Libbigail, thank you for agreeing to this interview! So, firstly, I’d love to know, what made you decide to start a YouTube channel?
So, I originally had a YouTube channel that I started when I was 16, as I had a bit of passion for creating characters and coming up with random sketch ideas. It had a good following but as I got older, I felt that it wasn’t showing who I was anymore, which is why I wanted to start again and have targets for something else that represents who I am now.
Who is your target audience? Is there a specific message you’d like to spread?
I would say my target audience could be anyone who loves fashion and likes watching that kind of stuff. I have not thought if I had a message. Perhaps I’m wanting to cut down on how much fast fashion I buy? That could be a message I suppose.
Have your media studies helped you in any way with your channel?
Yes, yes, yes! I’ve learnt so much on how to create better quality videos by thinking about good lighting angles, I’m more confident with editing now and I have learnt how to be better in front of a camera and present myself in an entertaining light.
That’s great to hear! Any modules in particular?
I chose to do the Presenting module in my first term of second year which I would say really helped me in becoming more confident in front of the camera, even specifying one lesson on a vlog. I’d really recommend it for anyone wanting to go down a similar route!
And finally, where do you see this channel headed in the future?
I hope that I can post many more videos and stick to a good schedule. And I want to entertain people so I hope that more people will see my videos and be entertained and inspired with their fashion!
INTERNATIONAL IMPROV JAM
By Lucy Booth
What’s better than an impromptu improv jam? An international impromptu improv jam, of course!
On Tuesday 9th March, Bron hosted an exciting improv jam with both Humber College (Τοronto) and University of Salford students alike. Despite daylight savings causing a slight timings mishap, we managed to connect with our Canadian colleagues for some light-hearted, low pressure fun!
We began with some inspirational quotes made, word-by-word, from each of us, before we went headfirst into some short improv scenes. Nobody needed to worry about their level of experience or ability in improvising, as everyone was very accommodating to each other’s scene ideas no matter what direction they decided to go – even, as one scene revealed, when Jesus rocked up to his local swimming pool! To work together with not only students from different levels (and continents!), but also a team of experienced improvisers, was really encouraging and meant we could try out new techniques and forms without fear of being blocked. We played an exciting new game in which we did running commentaries on a Hallmark movie, in crew roles of varying importance. We finished with a classic advice panel, featuring stellar advice from Wilkie’s spot on Queen impersonation.
This light-hearted and fun night was a great way to improve connections with Humber College – the Zoom format making it accessible for the students to come together in a new way! Usually, the comedy course at Salford offers students the chance to visit Humber College in Canada for a semester, as well as inviting students from Humber to study at Salford for a year. Due to the pandemic, this wasn’t possible in 2020. However, events such as the improv jam are a great way to network and connect with our fellow comedy students despite the ongoing situation! The chance to virtually collaborate, in a friendly atmosphere, was amazing and very enjoyable. Thank you to for Bron for giving us this platform! Overall, it was a great night for all involved – keep an eye out for the next jam!
GUESS WHO – THE ANSWER!
Answer – it is our very own Abby Bentham in Our Day Out (extra bonus points if you could tell that she is playing the role of Carol!).