It’s well known that in order to thrive as a performer in the realms of dance and drama, access to specialist facilities, space and equipment is a necessity. That's why I'm pressing forward with lobbying the College, as I seek to open up performance spaces for our performance-based societies and sports clubs.
As the College’s Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance states in their prospectus, ‘At Royal Holloway, we are lucky enough to probably have the best facilities for studying and making theatre in any British university’. These spaces are the state-of-the-art Caryl Churchill Theatre, complete with box office, the authentic Japanese Handa Noh Theatre, and the Boilerhouse Theatre, which also serves as a dance studio space, complete with underfloor heating. Currently, these rooms are available as performance and practice spaces only to those studying a departmental degree and, by extension The Student Workshop, a departmental society not ratified by the SU.
We believe that these facilities should be made accessible to students beyond the course, who engage with theatre, dance and performance-based societies and sports clubs.
Debate surrounding access to the spaces by non-drama students or those not affiliated with The Student Workshop, has been happening for a number of years, with previous VP Societies and Media officers looking to lobby the College to open up those spaces for the performance-related societies and clubs ratified by us, such as Cheer dance troupes, MTS, Drama, Shakespeare and Dance.
Listening to feedback from student groups, I recognise the absolute need for these groups to have access to the specialist facilities on campus. Having access to these rooms would free up available SU spaces for the multitude of other societies and clubs that we have on campus. This means that other non-performance based groups would have a wider array of spaces available to them, without contention. It would also allow the members of performance groups to perform and practise in venues suitable and safe for their needs.
It would give those members, who dream of working in theatre and dance, the ability to develop professionally as young actors, actresses, dancers, stage managers and producers in appropriate and relevant environments. In turn, this would hopefully give the hard working societies, talented members and departmental facilities recognition in the wider community.
I have been in contact with Professor Bob O’Keefe, the College's Vice-Principal (Student Experience), and members of staff within the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance, to get the ball rolling with support from College. We have discussed the necessity for space and the positive ways in which moving towards an open space policy will make student experience better at Royal Holloway, for society and club members alike.
As this project progresses, I’ll keep you informed of how we’re doing, and how we’ll be looking to maximise the space available for student groups in the future.
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