Inspiring Innovation – Student Companies

© Max Sparber

Performance and live theatre is a growing community within the University of Surrey campus. With three theatre societies, the steadily growing theatre-studies degree, the ever-budding dance degree, and the newly emerged Surrey Sapphires Dance crew, you’re never short of entertainment. It is a thriving hub of creativity and talent, providing us with incredible entertainment at a brilliantly professional standard. However, theatrical activity not associated with the Union or any society is steadily increasing, and students are becoming more and more independent in their various stage endeavours.

But when you look into it, student-led companies aren’t actually all that new. In 2005, students on the BA Dance course established Actual Size Dance Company – an independent, dedicated, and passionate company whose aims include the opportunity for original choreography, as well as education for children and young adults. Over the past 7years, ASDC has been involved in World Aids Day on campus in 2010, as well as participating in the ‘Moving Oxford’ event in which they supported Animaneaux, of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ fame. They are a fantastic example of student innovation and independence.

Last year, three theatre-studies placement students (the first of their kind) decided that, alongside their internships, they wanted to create something to come back to. FaceFirst Theatre was born – with their first production in the works right now, they’re involving many students from all years in a promising new project.

I myself have been involved in some rather exciting developments; in April of this year, my course mate Abigail Oscroft approached me with a proposal. She wanted to create theatre that was more than entertainment – something philosophical, that got you thinking about the world around you, but she wanted my help. Ad Meliora Theatre Company was developed following a 5-week research project in a pub in Shalford and, despite a few hiccups, we have many plans for the future following the launch of our website just a few weeks ago.

As well as these thriving companies, whose aims are to produce opportunities for students to showcase their talents and creativity as well as to provide something a little different to the Union-based societies, there are chances to just test out your skills of discussion and academia. A reading group has recently emerged from the theatre-studies students, providing a forum for existing plays to be read in an intimate, non-pressurised format, and for new writing to get its first glimpse of performance.

It’s incredible to see the budding directors, choreographers and actors who may be just a little hidden from sight, and the work they’re doing behind the scenes. Student innovation is most definitely booming at Surrey – who knows where it will lead…

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