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One year on: Finding creativity and connection

Posted on 24 March 2021

In the Department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media, final-year BA Theatre students normally present nine fringe-scale productions of festival-length theatre shows in the Department's Black Box Theatre.

Screenshot of Zoom rehearsal for Wild Swimming play

When the pandemic hit, this module was urgently re-designed as an innovative online monologue festival for June 2020.

"Our students have had to find creativity and connection in a context of self-isolation and physical distancing. Together, we have retaught and relearned everything we thought was crucial to theatre-making - bodies sharing space, co-present audience encounters, the fizz of group rehearsal rooms and the frantic energy of production week. We have realised that there are myriad ways to come together as theatre-makers even when we can't stretch together in the rehearsal studio or sit together in the auditorium.” Dr Karen Quigley

In 2021, with more time to prepare for the challenge of an online theatre festival, students live-streamed six full-length productions of contemporary plays to more than 1,000 people.

The 2021 Emergence Festival celebrated the creativity of emerging artists from the department, with a combination of live and pre-recorded theatre over five days.

“Producing an online arts festival felt incredibly daunting. With the jump to a Zoom theatre set-up, everyone had to adapt. We were stripped of a theatre, a stage, lights, tech equipment and rehearsal rooms. However, with the help and support of our supervisors, tech team and industry professional mentors, we programmed an incredibly successful virtual festival consisting of live theatre, sketch comedy and workshops. Staff reassured us that everything we contributed has a real life application. To produce online theatre during this time is both very real and extremely exciting.” Liv Maltby, student

"While things often felt like they were up in the air, or beyond our control, it was always the grounding, insightful advice of staff members that helped bring the shows back on track. Almost no one is an expert in how to put a show on over Zoom, being such a new form of theatre. Yet we were fully supported throughout the module, often with the staff learning alongside the students. Having seen all of the shows throughout the Emergence Festival, the quality of the work that was put on was a testament to the incredible student-staff relationship in TFTI and our ability to work together and solve problems together as a team." Jay Seldon, student

We are celebrating all that colleagues from across the University have done to keep our students safe and supported over the last 12 months with a series of stories on these pages.