Wollongong is embracing the creative work coming from its University with the production of ‘The Just’ this week, featuring University of Wollongong (UOW) students.
Tim Maddock, Performance & Theatre Program Convenor at UOW, said that the production at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre (IPAC) is an example of the practicality and usefulness of UOW’s Bachelor of Performance course.
“We have built a strong degree and students emerging from this course, I believe, will take their place amongst the cultural innovators of tomorrow,” he said.
“We are offering our students experiences in real theatre venues off-campus.”
Maddock said that students have been involved in a number of schemes presented at IPAC and other theatres as actors and technicians and that their studies have made this possible.
“We offer a very diverse range of skills and strategies for making theatre and strong theory. Several companies have been formed by our ex-students including Appelspiel, Team Mess and Bodysnatchers. All have presented original works nationally and internationally,” he said.
Third year Bachelor of Performance student, Jemma Rowe, agreed that this was the case, saying that many of her peers have been involved in productions.
“A lot of the Performance students are in shows outside of Uni (sic)…for example over six of my friends were just in ‘Cats’ performed at the Phoenix [Theatre] and another friend is the lead in a musical at Arcadian’s [Theatre].”
She says that the structure of the current course is a disadvantage for students.
Rowe began her first year at the same time that the course was restructured – splitting students up in her second year into separate branches of the course; Performance-Making, Theatre, and Acting.
She believes that the latter is the main focus of the degree with more appropriate training and preparation given to Acting students, whereas she chose Theatre.
“I feel that due to this year being experimental, we were not taught enough or given enough opportunities,” she said.
“We have to work a lot harder to prove ourselves and earn the right to perform, so to speak.”
But despite feeling at a disadvantage, Rowe believes that productions like ‘The Just’, which involve students, help to give them a better view of what their future holds.
“I think it shows a range of ability from the students as well as the calibre of shows the university can put on. It also gives an insight into the future theatre industry.”
Words: TARIK ELMERHEBE
Video: ALEX PIKE
Video: GERARD McDONOUGH
Audio/Visual: ANDREA HOGAN