Performing Arts students go on a journey of 253 lifetimes

16th December 2021

Performing Arts students from Solihull College & University Centre have been undertaking their most challenging roles yet in their final performance of the year.

Students have been tackling the text ‘253’ – set on a train containing 253 passengers. All the characters have their own page, giving a brief insight into their secret histories, thoughts, and problems. Students picked their character, with age/gender irrelevant.

The College’s Photography students were also involved in the project, teaming up to take portrait photos of the performers in character. These portraits were then projected during the show.

Student Angel Garvey-Hendrickson described the process of working with the Photography students as daunting at first but soon saw the benefit it brought to her and her colleagues’ performances. She commented: “We enjoyed seeing how they work. The portraits gave us a different perspective. We were able to analyse our character in more depth.”

Tutor Kelly talked the audience through the premise of the show before the students took to the stage in the College’s theatre at Blossomfield Campus.

Students all also had the opportunity to take on a directorial role during the process as well as working on sound design, prop design, choreography, costume, hair and makeup.

Fellow performer Aspen Hunt enjoyed the process from perception through to performance. She commented: “The book gave us a brief overview, but we were able to develop the character further from that. The biggest challenge of the show was the ‘blocking’ – making sure all the characters stood out whilst also unifying the performance. There was no main character.”

Studying through covid has been a challenge for the students, with some performances having to take place online. Chad Clarke commented: It’s been tough learning online at points over the last 2 years due to lockdowns. It’s great to be making up for lost time with this type of performance with a live audience in the theatre.”

Following the show, the students took part in a Q+A session to discuss the show, their characters and the process of putting it together.

Tutor Kelly Casey was proud of the students’ cross discipline collaboration. She commented: “It challenged them to constantly consider things from other people’s perspectives. Collaborative processes should be encouraged. We have high expectations of our students, but it pays off. Ultimately, we are making sure they finish their course ready for industry or progression to stage school or university.”

Find out more about the College’s Performing Arts courses: Performing Arts courses