Course offered by Access All Areas Theatre and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama is the first of its kind
This August will see a momentous day for a group of 15 adults with learning disabilities as they become the first students to graduate with a Diploma in Performance Making from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and Hackney-based Access All Areas Theatre.
The course focusses on contemporary devised theatre and aims to enable students to build their own artistic practice with a view to building a career in the performing arts.
After graduation, a majority of students look set to secure paid performance roles or develop their own work. A number of students will be touring the UK with Access All Areas' production of Eye Queue Hear, an innovative audio tour performance developed by the students, while others have secured roles with dance and theatre companies and booked auditions for television and film roles with the BBC or independent film companies. Access All Areas Theatre will also act as producers for a number of solo performers, helping them to develop performances and working with them to make the most out of the experience gained during the course.
While on the course, students have worked with leading theatre practitioners and course tutors including casting director Sarah Hughes, who works for the BBC and for Alan Ayckbourn among others, actor and performance artist Mat Fraser, Punchdrunk’s Katy Balfour, Frantic Assembly’s Vicki Manderson and Graeae Theatre’s Jenny Sealey MBE.
Following the graduation performances, which will take place on 2 August at 6pm, applications will open for the new intake of students for the Diploma and remain open until 28 October. Those interested in applying should visit www.accessallareastheatre.org for more details or contact 0207 613 6445.
Speaking about his experience of the course, student Cian Binchy said:
"I am more of a performer than an actor, and this course helped me to learn how to be a more natural performer, and build more interesting performances. The less you say the more interesting your character can become. I've gained a lot of confidence and I will now take all these amazing acting tips with me into my professional performance career."
Casting Director Sarah Hughes, a tutor on the course said:
“This course is very important as it gives a good quality training over a long-term period at one of London's best drama schools. It fully enables a group of actors with learning disabilities to prepare for the potential of devising and creating their own work, and also to think about and to maximise the possibilities of earning money from professional acting work. It also gives them a chance to meet and train with a variety of top theatre practitioners.”
Mairi Hayes, Community Drama and Diploma Manager at The Royal Central School and Drama said:
“After an exciting first year, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama are thrilled that the talented Performance Making Diploma students are approaching their graduation. The Performance Making Diploma is one of four diploma courses here at Central. This diploma particularly focuses on enabling talented adults with learning disabilities to build their own artistic practice. We work on physicality and movement, politics of performance, giving voice, and other elements of performance technique. The students have developed immensely over the last seven months and we are very excited to see their ideas come to life in their graduating performance.”
Nick Llewellyn, Artistic Director of Access All Areas said:
“This is a fantastic partnership with such a prestigious drama school. People with learning disabilities have a history of institutionalisation and prejudice of what they can achieve. This diploma course, with thanks to the Leverhulme Trust, creates a life changing opportunity for 15 people per year to access professional performance training. Not only are we developing access and inclusion for a marginalised group of adults but we are paving a way for public perceptions to be challenged and hopefully eradicated once and for all.”
Exit Festival, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 62-64 Eton Avenue, NW3 3HY
2 August, 6pm
Exit Festival is a collection of cutting edge performances by the graduating students of Central’s Performance Making Diploma. Launched in January 2014, this pioneering course works with leading professionals to enable learning disabled performers to develop their own unique performance practice.
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