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Students take a bow at Edinburgh Festival

A scene from Last Night Things Happened

University of Sussex students are making a big impact on and off the stage at the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Current and former students have been attracting large audiences for productions they are directing, producing and performing, while thirty Drama and English students are also reviewing over ninety theatre performances for The Stage's Edinburgh website,

The student reviewer scheme was introduced last year by Dr William McEvoy, Drama and English lecturer at The University of Sussex and the lead reviewer for The Stage newspaper, who organised official Edinburgh Fringe Press accreditation for the students on The Stage website.  

Dr McEvoy believes the students will gain invaluable skills, especially for those trying to pursue a career in arts journalism or theatre reviewing.

He said: "It's a great experience for the students to be able to evaluate performances and it also gives them published copy.

"It's beneficial for the performers to get reviewed by our students as they'll get feedback which can be useful when they promote their work.  

"I'm proud that University of Sussex students are in shows they are devising, producing and performing. It's just great that the students are so heavily involved."

The student critics will review two or three performances and have their work sub-edited by a recent Sussex graduate, giving the students an insight into the pressure of journalistic deadlines.

Joseph Ronan, who graduated in July with a first-class honours degree in Drama Studies and English, has been honing his writing skills by reviewing for The Stage's website.

Joseph said: "It has definitely been worthwhile, not least because we get to see free shows, but mainly because it enhances the way you think about performances and should improve my writing.

"It's a great way to get contacts with the likes of The Stage and I'm also coming away with useful reviews."

Sussex students will also be critiqued themselves as many are involved in directing and performing.

Chris Harrisson, who graduated in July with a first-class honours degree in English, wrote the play Last Night Things Happened, which is being performed at the Underbelly Theatre, Edinburgh, until 22nd August.

Chris dipped into the University of Sussex's talent pool by recruiting six Sussex Drama students to perform and English student Alex Sayer to direct his play.

Chris said: "It's been great to see them do so well. It's really nice to see the play being performed and watch them develop my script."

Former Drama students Adam Roberts and Becky Moult have also been a hit, performing their show, NewsRevue 30th Anniversary, to audiences of 300 at the Pleasance.                                             

Dr McEvoy said: "I saw them yesterday and it was both hilarious and brilliantly performed, especially by Adam, who I think is destined for the West End, since he has a fantastic singing voice and excellent comic timing." 

Jeremy Pike and Katrina Marchant, Drama/English graduates, are involved in Janis at Gilded Balloon, a solo performance based on the life of Janis Joplin. Jeremy Pike is Associate Director of Upstairs at the Three and Ten and has directed this piece. Katrina Marchant, as well as being part of the improvised comedy troupe Off the Cuff, is doing an MA in Early Modern Literature and Culture at Sussex.



By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Tuesday, 18 August 2009