Calling all wannabe theatre critics! Check out the University of Chichester’s unique new module on its BA Musical Theatre degree course.
The module, entitled Musical Theatre Critique and Arts Journalism, is the first of its kind in the UK. Designed to help develop your analytical skills by writing about plays and theatre productions in a constructive and instructive way, lectures will feature leading theatre critics giving their own take on the subject in a series of guest lectures at the university in West Sussex.
Mark Shenton is the associate editor of the theatre world’s bible The Stage magazine. He has backed the innovative scheme and will be appearing as one of the guest speakers on the course. According to Mr. Shenton, everyone can express their opinion about anything these days, through the use of social media and the internet. Because of this, journalists and critics who work in the theatre and arts sector have seen their role change a lot.
Mr. Shenton said that theatre critics, despite their reputation for being able to close a production overnight, are great fans of the theatre, with the authority to seek out and publicise both the good and the bad things about British plays, actors and theatre productions.
The module already boasts a line-up of well-known speakers, including famous theatre critic Michael Billington of The Guardian newspaper and Mark Fisher, who writes for Variety magazine and a number of national newspapers.
Chichester University’s BA in Musical Theatre degree programme also includes masterclasses given by guest lecturers from the world of West End theatre, who talk to students about how to prepare for specialist roles, either on-stage or behind-the-scenes in national stage productions.
Senior lecturer for Musical Theatre at Chichester, Andrew Wright, said, “Through the lectures, which include input from some of the most prolific theatre critics in the country, our students will gain a significant foothold within the industry once they graduate. Ultimately, we want to help them to prepare for their own career in musical theatre, whether that is on stage or writing their own critiques and reviews in national publications.”
The module itself is based on the innovative Hampshire-based programme Young Critics which was created by former actor Carl Woodward, now an associate lecturer in Musical Theatre at the University of Chichester.
Based at the Theatre Royal in Winchester, the scheme was conceived to help aspiring young actors to develop as critics, using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to help them stand out in the overcrowded theatre industry. “It is also essential that they understand how to articulate a response to their critics, particularly as many performers are faced with near-instantaneous reviews after each show.” said Carl Woodward.
Mr. Woodward added, “Our collaboration with guest lecturers such as Mark Shenton, one of the foremost theatre critics in the UK, and our close association with the Chichester Festival Theatre, ensures that our students have the opportunity to learn from the best in the business. The industry has changed beyond recognition in the last decade so it’s important that graduates have the transferable skills necessary to access careers in other areas of musical theatre.”
Applications for the BA in (Hons) Musical Theatre at the University of Chichester, which features the new, Musical Theatre Critique and Arts Journalism module, are now being accepted. Contact course leader Andrew Wright for more information.