Last month, final-year BA (Hons) Drama students performed five pieces of site specific museum theatre at the Black Country Living Museum as part of their module: Applied Drama: The Workplace.
The museum, which interprets the story of the Black Country through costumed staff and historical buildings and objects, asked the students to create original performances that would help bring the stories of the Black Country to life for the museum’s visitors.
The museum’s brief specified that the performances should take inspiration from the real stories of the Black Country and take place within the open-air setting of the museum.
The students worked as professional applied theatre companies to produce and perform various performances including a wedding in the Providence Chapel and a rally of the women chain makers in the Workers Institute.
One piece was set in the limekilns along the canal basin, where the group played a motley crew of limekiln workers from the late 19th Century. Cast in the role of ‘new workers’ the audience were introduced to the to the lime industry and, through a humorous narrative, were taught about the perils of kiln work.
Course leader, Claire Hampton, told us: “The module aims to prepare students for the applied theatre industry and collaborating with the museum offered an invaluable opportunity to work with an outside organisation. Responding to a brief supplied by a museum meant that the students had to work quickly and professionally to create work suitable for a public audience. This was an excellent hands-on experience for students that mirrored the challenges and rewards of industry practice.
“I was very proud of the way that the students represented the department and the University.”
Following the success of the collaboration, the museum and university plan to return for next year’s module.
Read more about BA (Hons) Drama.