York St John University

Joanna Loveday talks to David Richmond, Head of Programme BA (Hons) Theatre at York St John University, about Create, the degree show festival at York St John University, where theatre graduates present work alongside visual arts, design, and film students.

JL: When did ‘Create’ come about as a public showcase, and how do students studying performance and theatre take part?

DR: The create festival came out of ‘perform’ which first happened in 2006 for the first graduating year of Performance: Dance; Music; Theatre. Slowly over the intervening years, it began to add Fine Art and Design shows, Television & Film showings, Media, English and this year for the first time History.

JL: So, is presenting a piece in public for ‘Create’ compulsory to theatre students?

DR: No, it was always for the most appropriate student work – those that could fit into the time and space available.

JL: Are assessments made during a public or private performance for final year students?

DR: Most of the work has already been assessed prior to public performance and the students have received feedback on their work.

JL: What do you see as the main benefits in giving students a public platform?

DR: The festival gives the students a platform to re-make their work for a different audience; they get to see if they can do it again. I think it is vitality important that students make work in the public realm, and therefore with a greater risk, responsibility and level and diversity of feedback.

JL: Since Create came about, have you seen a difference in approach or attitude from the theatre students?

DR: The students take it very seriously these days, and the best work can easily be held next to the best work anywhere, indeed some of it easily surpassing master’s level work.

JL: Who is invited to Create, and are performances well attended?

DR: Create aims to be completely open to the public, and we do invite people to the opening night. Each year we get better at letting people know it is on and hopefully audiences will grow, it is clearly the most diverse and experimental festival in York.

JL: And finally, in reading about ‘Create’ it seems important to the University to present a diverse mix of all graduate works, and not have a degree show that is the sole preserve of the visual arts. How has that affected the relationship between students across different degrees, and has there been more inter-departmental collaboration as a result?

DR: The interdisciplinary aspect is an interesting one in as much as we usually see the results after the festival, where graduates who witness each others work seek each other out for the opportunity to collaborate and make new work together.

The Create11 showcase ran at York St John University and in selected York venues from Thursday 19 May – Saturday 4 June 2011. For more information on Create and York St John University visit the website.


Joanna Loveday is a writer based in Leeds, Yorkshire, specialising in writing on performance and live art. She is also co-director of Critical Writing Collective.