Student Life: Thesping It Up in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Student work is every bit as entertaining, compelling and fulfilling as professional theatre.

Feature by Michael Witham | 12 Nov 2006
  • Thespians

Glasgow and Edinburgh boast some of the most prolific student theatre groups anywhere in the country. Far from being feckless or amateur, their productions are consistently engaging, inventive and unique. In the coming season the student community will be presenting some of the most interesting theatre around, and with everything from improvised comedy to Shakespeare and Austen revisited, there will surely be something for everyone.

With the luxury of having a permanent home in Bedlam Theatre, EUTC has always been a prominent feature of the capital's theatre scene. This season they present a truly diverse programme of new writing, adaptations, comedy and drama.

EUTC'S lunchtime theatre schedule presents a different play every week, always shown at 2.30pm on a Wednesday afternoon, with an emphasis on adventurous or eccentric productions to be performed once only. New writing features prominently, with works like 'The Life of Evariste Galois', which tells the story of the pioneering French mathematician who invented algebra when he was 16. The play is a piece of new writing by Sandy Easton; by turns comic, dramatic, tragic and informative, it is sure to entertain. Another notable lunchtime installment is a production of 'Emma' by Jane Austen, adapted into an effervescent piece of comedy theatre by Doon MacKichan of 'Smack the Pony' fame.

In their evening schedule EUTC have programmed three very different works which contrast in style and method to highlight the flexibility of the company. 'Absurd Person Singular' is a fast paced farce by Alan Ayckbourn, presented by the team behind 2005's mammoth success 'Noises Off'. On a very dfferent note, 'Saved' by Edward Bond tells the story of shattered lives and desperation on a South London council estate. The whole season ends with another hilarious pantomine from EUTC and, as the tradition dictates at Bedlam, it is another literary motif this Christmas. 'A Christmas Carol - The Panto' will follow in the footsteps of previous successes 'The Lion, the Witch and the Panto' and 'The Fellowship of the Panto.'

On top of all the theatre, Bedlam presents The Improverts every Friday at 10.30pm. The Improverts have returned from another sell out run at the Fringe (with rave reviews in hand) to take up their Bedlam residency for another year. All at once sharp, witty and laugh out loud silly, The Improverts perform short-form improvised comedy (very similar to the likes of 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?'] to a packed house. Based entirely on audience suggestions, it's a different show every night.

In Glasgow the student theatre scene continues to grow and move from strength to strength, establishing itself as one of the most dynamic centres for young theatre anywhere in the U.K.

Glasgow University's own venue, Gilmorehill G12, plays host to a fascinating programme of theatre, workshops and film events throughout the season. Glasgow University's theatre group STaG continue to stage exciting works, including a production of Shakespeare's classic 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', influenced by everything from Disney's 'Hercules' to Adam Ant, the production will be anything but traditional. STaG also present their 'STaG Nights', the largest student theatre festival in Scotland. This year the festival has a burlesque theme, and will incorporate new student writing from Glasgow and beyond as well as education and workshop events.

The Ramshorn, owned by the University of Strathclyde, has a particularly strong season, testament to the quality of the company and the venue itself. Throughout November they present a series of Wednesday lunchtime radio plays, while their evening theatre programme includes a stylish reworking of 'King Lear' and a production of 'The Marriage of Figaro', the play by Beaumarchais which preceded the opera. Question and answer sessions with the directors and an exceptional programme of workshops make the Ramshorn a really valuable asset to Glasgow's theatrical scene.

Student theatre is often unfairly overlooked as pretentious, shoddy, or tedious, but in fact it provides a fantastic starting point for many talented and dedicated young people, and a great forum for experimentation, new writing and development. Student work is every bit as entertaining, compelling and fulfilling as professional theatre. With large theatres constantly raising ticket prices, make sure you take in some student productions, to see the future of theatre for a fraction of the price.