A Celebration of Central’s 2020 Spring Term

The Faith Machine

Friday, 15 May 2020

With our Summer Term now underway, we're taking a moment to look back at some of the highlights of our 2020 Spring Term and to celebrate the achievements of our student community.

That the world has changed enormously in the past two months goes without saying.  As our community adapts to these changes and finds new ways to collaborate with each other and to learn and create together from their homes around the world, we're celebrating some of the incredible work that was created in the months immediately preceding the physical closure of our buildings.

It's worth noting that this round up forms just a selection of our publicly presented and showcased activity; the work of Central's students and staff happens every day in myriad ways and locations: from the buzz of activity that fills our workshops, studios, media suites and rehearsal spaces; to the community, education and collaborative outreach work taking place both within the UK and abroad; from the countless industry placements, to the cutting edge research projects being developed.  We couldn't be prouder of our community and of the creativity, energy and passion they bring to their time training with us here at Central.


Public Productions

One major feature of the Spring Term is the schedule of public productions, which are truly cross-course collaborative endeavors that allow students to work on exciting and challenging projects alongside industry partners both on- and off - site.

Opening the Spring Season, our MA Music Theatre students performed their devised piece The Plaza.  The cohort brought a global perspective to the challenging and changing public space of a city plaza, where demonstrations and protests so often happen, and showed how music, performance, theatre and creativity can help shape and forge change.

Next was a special Studio Season with Complicite Creative Learning in collaboration with Central's BA (Hons) Acting CDT students working alongside students from across a number of Central's undergraduate and postgraduate courses with Creative, Design, Production and performance work including Puppetry from BA (Hons) Theatre Practice, Marketing and Promotional Assistance (Creative Producing), Assistant Direction (Actor Training and Coaching) and Dramaturgy (Theatre Criticism and Dramaturgy).  The season was performed at London's Theatre Peckham.  Two new works were presented: devised adaptations of Jeanette Winterson's Oranges are Not the Only Fruit and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.  The devised pieces were adapted and directed by Complicite Associates Joyce Henderson and Catherine Alexander and were performed for a public audience as well as for numerous school and community groups. 

Back in Central's Embassy Theatre, BA (Hons) Acting Musical Theatre and BA (Hons) Theatre Practice students presented the acclaimed Urinetown, The Musical.  First produced on Broadway in 2001, the timely production examined important questions around private ownership and corporate and social responsibility.

In the Webber Douglas Studio Central's BA (Hons) Acting students, working alongside students from the BA (Hons) Theatre Practice Course, presented a double bill of Polly Teale's After Mrs Rochester and Alexi Kaye Campbell's The Faith Machine.  In After Mrs Rochester, the 'mad woman' in the attic in Jane Eyre was placed centre stage for an intriguing examination of the life of Jeanne Rhys, author of the Wild Sargasso Sea - a novel that reinvents the life of Bertha, Mrs Rochester. The Faith Machine bent time across two continents, from America to Britain to a remote Greek island and back again, in a painfully funny play that explored the relationship between faith and capitalism and asked fundamental questions about the true meaning of love.

It was with great regret that the MA Acting Contemporary and MA Acting Classical public productions of Caryl Churchill's Love and Information and Nikolai Gogol's The Government Inspectorwhich had been scheduled to play in April, were cancelled owing to the countrywide lockdown.  Although these productions were not able to go ahead in April as originally planned, we commend the casts, creative, production and technical crews for their dedication and for the skill and hard work they brought to preparing both productions for presentation.

And we were delighted to attend the MA Acting Contemporary and MA Acting Classical students' well-received industry showcase held on 20 February at London's Soho Theatre.


Festivals, Symposia and Conferences

Festivals, Symposia and Conferences provide Central's students with an opportunity to curate their own events, to exchange knowledge with colleagues in academia and the wider performing arts industries, and to more closely examine specific themes, topics and questions. 

In January, the Postgraduate Research community presented their annual Intersections Conference to examine the landscape of higher education and the prospects and problems facing early career theatre and performance researchers.  The conference welcomed early career researchers from Canada, Belgium and the UK to discuss the ethics, politics and ambitions of future research.

Also in January, Central hosted guests and industry partners for the 2020 New Technologies Showcase.  The annual event is hosted at Central and is run by the Association of Lighting Designers together with White Light Ltd.  In addition to the professional showcase in the Embassy Theatre, Central's BA (Hons) Theatre Practice students presented a special outdoor element: a video mapping project called Behind These Walls.

In February, and in collaboration with Decolonising the Archive, Central's MA/ MFA Creative Producing programme presented Finding A New Centre: Theatre Production, Archives and the Magic of the Margins.  The evening featured a dramatic provocation and discussion with actors, writers, directors and producers from Black theatre collective African Tales From The Hip.

Central's new North Block building played host to Blackout Fest 2020: two nights of short performances marking the completion of studies for final year Drama, Applied Theatre and Education and Writing for Performance students.  The festival featured performances of a number of new, 20 minute pieces of theatre covering a range of topics, themes and theatrical styles.

And over two days in March The Longing Collective, a collaborative artist collective comprised of final year Performance Arts students, presented the (EM)URGENCY Performance Symposium at Platform Southwark in London.  With a gathering of artworks, the collective opened a space for connection and discussion about the things in life that we find most important, shaped by what we share, but also our differences.


Showings and Exhibitions

A particular highlight of the Spring and Summer Terms is the busy schedule showings and exhibitions of student work, which provide a chance for the community to come together and celebrate student achievements from the academic year.

Across four nights in February, Central's MA/MFA Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media students presented their New Writing Night in Central's New Studio.  Twelve new shows written by the cohort were presented, and all responding to the trouble with the heart's desire just in time for Valentine's Day.

New solo writing work was also presented by the Writing for Performance course collaborating with Performance Arts students for An Evening of Solo Performance.  The evening featured 20 five-minute solo performances ranging from stand-up comedy to dramatic monologues and from narrative performance art to clowning.

In early March, Drama, Applied Theatre and Education students presented their SLP Performances and Showings to an invited audience.

Meanwhile, in the Dench Studio, BA (Hons) Theatre Practice students presented The Beguiled, a Tableau inspired by the 2017 major motion picture of the same name.

And from 9 - 13 March, MA/ MFA Advanced Theatre Practice students presented Practices 2020, their final collaborative work in progress showings, with a different company performing on each afternoon.  In recent years, work from this first series of viewings has gone on to the Battersea Arts Centre, Istropolitana Festival (Slovenia) and the Zlomvaz Festival (Prague).  Theatre-makers showcasing their work in Practices 2020 included The Collective, Ants on Stilts, Not Sorry, MILKDAD, and Disobedient Bodies.

Congratulations to everyone who was involved in projects, showcases, exhibitions and productions at Central during the Spring 2020 term.  As we continue to adapt and develop new ways of working together, we look forward to celebrating our community's achievements in virtual rehearsals, online exhibitions, digital collaborative outreach projects, research and so much more.

To discover activities taking place at Central and find out how you can get involved remotely, please keep an eye on our website and social media channels.

To attend Central's Theatre Practice 2020 Exhibition Online, which launches to the public on 12 June 2020, please visit the event page where you can also view a digital catalogue of student work.


Intersections 2020

Intersections 2020 Conference Poster

2020 New Technologies Showcase

Photo from the 2020 New Technologies Showcase 

Finding A New Centre: Theatre Production, Archives and the Magic of the Margins

Finding A New Centre: Theatre Production, Archives and the Magic of the Margins.  With Decolonising the Archive and African Tales from the Hip.

Blackout Fest 2020 Poster

(EM)URGENCY Performance Symposium

(EM) Urgency Performance Symposium Poster

New Writing Night

New Writing Night Poster


An Evening of Solo Performance

An Evening of Solo Performance Poster


MA Advanced Theatre PracticeMA Advanced Theatre Practice: The Collective