University of Cumbria students selected for national drama festival

University of Cumbria students selected for national drama festival

A talented group of performing arts students from the University of Cumbria has just achieved a notable early success in the acting and drama world.

A play which was written, directed, produced and performed by members of the group, has been selected for the prestigious National Student Drama Festival (NSDF), held each year in Scarborough. The play is one of only 12 productions selected from over a hundred national entries this year.

The NSDF is open to 16–25 year olds from across the country and is sponsored by The Sunday Times. A panel of judges visit entrants throughout the year to view and shortlist the student shows, which are then presented in repertoire format during the week-long festival in March.

The university theatre group is made up of six students currently studying for a degree in performing arts in Carlisle. Amie Petricca-Lear (21) wrote the play, entitled Dahmer, and co-directs it with fellow student Thomas Newall (23). Together they established their theatre group HeadsUp Productions, enrolling four other students to perform roles in the play.

Amie explains:” The idea for the play originally came from a documentary we watched about the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Tommy and I were intrigued by the way the scale of his horrific crimes was not reflected in his charming character.

“After we did some further research, I began writing the script. There have been a number of rewrites since that first version and it was only in January that we decided to enter it into the NSDF competition.”

Thomas adds: "This is really exciting for our future as it is a big step in the right direction - I'm overwhelmed that we have made it this far.  Amie and I will continue to work hard to gain more notoriety in this competitive industry." 

Student Gary White plays the title role of Jeffrey Dahmer in the play with Rhys Burton, Ashleigh Egan and Hannah Woodfine completing the six-strong cast.

University of Cumbria drama lecturer Richard Milburn is immensely proud of the students’ achievement and comments:

“This project shows just the kind of enterprising spirit we are trying to foster on our courses, so to have this play selected for a national festival is fantastic. We hope they have a great time showcasing their work, meeting industry professionals and, of course, we hope they come back to Carlisle with an award (or two!)”

The students have no intention of resting on their laurels however and already have plans for the future. “We hope to continue making new, contemporary theatre and projects as HeadsUp Productions,” Amie continues. “We would like to write more original pieces, including extending Dahmer into a biographical crime trilogy involving other cases - and maybe begin writing a musical.”