On Saturday 9th April 2016 Union House Theatre hosted a Piercing Examination of Student Theatre Symposium, this year held around the theme of ‘Back To The Future’. The event reviewed the current state of student theatre in Melbourne, comparing it to its past and gauging how far it has to go in the future.
There were three panels scheduled in the event. Each panel was arranged around a theme, where each speaker from the panel would give a short provocation as a trigger from each of their own perspectives in response to the theme. These provocations were then used as a start for the discussion that followed afterwards.
Tess Chappell chaired the first panel, and was joined by Clare Watson, Tim Stitz, Adam Cass, Fleur Kilpatrick and John Paul Fischbach. The theme of this panel was ‘How To Make Theatre When No One In The World Wants You To’, and in general the reaction of the panel was a unanimous ‘just do it.’ Each of the speakers came from different backgrounds and experiences, but they were united in their understanding that while student theatre is not an easy road, the rewards it offers more than make up for that.
The speakers believed in students pursuing whatever creative project they choose. Working in the theatre allows students to create an unparalleled network of creative minds and talents. And as well as utilising this network themselves, theatre-makers can in turn help other student creatives. Ultimately, it is the student’s personal voice, how they create the bridge between concept and reality, which makes amateur theatre so compelling.
There is, however, a significant amount of challenges in creating theatre, something all the speakers agreed on. There are many gatekeepers, from potential donors to stage managers and space-owners. Rejection from these gatekeepers can be harsh, even ‘soul-destroying’ according to the panel, but it is a necessary step in making theatre. In surviving these rejections, you will be forced to look at your work in a new way and find the reason you think your work should be created. Ultimately, you’ll create better theatre for it. It’s almost a rite of passage in an artist’s life, which teaches students to survive in creating theatre in a world that seemingly doesn’t want them to.
In the end, the panel offered a graduate’s perspective, an often-unheard, realistic admittance of the world beyond the student theatre. While nothing is ever easy, the panel also assured us that it’s not a completely unforgiving industry. People will help, chances will come, and with tenacity and perseverance creating theatre after graduating is not only possible, but also a very worthwhile endeavour.
PEST16 – Back to the Future was held at Union House on the 9th of April.