Students at Plymouth Marjon University have connected with leading industry experts at the University’s first virtual performance Enrichment Week. The event ran from 22 to 26 March 2021.
Professionals from across the UK shared insights into careers in film, education, video games, television, theatre, and radio. The event was for final year performance students, providing them with many opportunities to expand their networks and consider new career opportunities.
Speakers at Enrichment Week included actors, dancers and singers, as well as experts in casting, writing, directing, and presenting. They included members of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), Equity, and a panelist for the Olivier Awards, which celebrate the best of London theatre.
Natalie Raven co-course leader for BA (Hons) Acting and BA (Hons) Musical Theatre, produced the event with Lauren Walsh. Dr Raven said: “Taking this event online meant that we could connect with leading artists, directors, scholars, and educators from across the UK. In response to the uncertainty that Covid-19 had brought to the performing arts industry, hosting a virtual event gave students many opportunities to connect with experts in London and further afield. Next year we could cast our net even wider.”
Suzy Catliff, a London based Casting Director and author of The Casting Handbook, provided advice on audition technique and a casting ‘how-to’ session. Her casting credits include Casualty, Silent Witness, Primeval, Departure and all fifteen seasons of Murdoch Mysteries.
Multi-award-winning playwright James Fritz spoke about his experiences as a playwright and what motivates his enthusiasm for writing. His many achievements include winning a Critics Circle Theatre Award, the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, multiple BBC awards and a nomination for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre. He shared his personal views on what he believes is most important when working creatively in these unpredictable times, telling students: “Embrace change, be kind, be bold in decision making and work together”.
Fritz hosted a Q&A about his play Parliament Square. Third year actors will soon be rehearsing the play with professional director Derek Bond and performing it at Marjon’s Quad Theatre in May 2021.
Damien Goodwin, Actor and Director, introduced acting for games as an emerging job. He explored motion capture, performance capture, and acting for virtual reality. Goodwin has directed over 60 games projects for Side Global, a company specialising in character and voice performance for games. These include Tom Clancy's The Division; Dragon Age Inquisition; and Witcher 3 as well as Sony's ground-breaking VR World. He has also directed short films, over 50 episodes of Hollyoaks, and has acted on TV in Teachers, Jonathon Creek, EastEnders and Sir Gadabout.
Sotirios Panagoulias, a professional classical ballet and contemporary dancer led an online ballet workshop from his base in Scotland. He has performed with Scottish Ballet and Prague Chamber Ballet South and is also a choreographer.
Beaming in from Manchester, Taran Knight, Actor and Writer, talked about being a TV presenter. He led a practical session in which students had a go at presenting online, having to think on their feet and flex their performance skills.
Ben Lyon-Ross, Talent Development Producer for Theatre Royal Plymouth (TRP), covered opportunities for graduates closer to home, including The Lab Company which TRP will be auditioning for soon.
Student Alexa Godfrey-Evans said: “I thoroughly enjoyed Enrichment Week. I was able to talk to professionals and learn about their experiences. I expanded my knowledge of roles in the industry and found out about other jobs to put myself forwards for that work with my skill set".
Reflecting on the week, co-course leader Judy Preston said: “We are thrilled to be back teaching students in-person but enrichment week is a great an example of how online events can provide access to broader networks and open up otherwise closed doors for graduates. We are ambitious for our student’s futures.”