Caught the morning train up to Carlisle to do some external examining for the University of Cumbria. It's good to get out and see what similar institutions are doing and how they're doing it. It helps give some perspective to the decisions we're taking back at St.Mary's.
I was met at the station by Richard Milburn, who convenes much of the work and after a pleasant lunch spent the afternoon looking over the students work and tutors comments in my hotel room.
I was struck mostly by the similarity in approach. Both of us are trying very hard to offer students a genuine opportunity to face up to employment with realism and confidence. In particular I marked some excellent submissions for a Cultural Entrepreneurship module which takes students through a business method of preparation for their self-formed companies. At its best this work moved from being a simulated exercise to becoming genuine. The portfolio serving as a marketing tool to persuade local theatres to programme and arts funders to take applications seriously.
It's a tricky balance between ensuring students have a bedrock understanding of theatre as a discipline and encouraging them to be business savvy. Of course work that just looks at audience or self-presentation will inevitably be safe and perhaps reactionary - but there was an impressive range of missions, ideas and genres represented within the companies, from Theatre in Education, to reminiscence work, to new writing, to live mixing and digital media services. If a core exists to Drama as an academic subject it maybe shifting.