Posted Tuesday 17 November 2015
More than 200 people have packed the borough's Rose Theatre for Kingston University's annual civic reception. Attendees were treated to a showcase from the School of Performance and Screen Studies as current students and graduates enthralled the audience with moving drama productions, high-energy dance routines and stand-out music pieces.
Kingston Mayor and Mayoress, Councillor Roy Arora and his wife, Manisha, representatives from local businesses, community faith and charity organisations, partner schools and colleges and local resident groups made the most of the chance to catch up with their fellow attendees against a backdrop of vocal and instrumental performances by some of the University's talented music students.
Head of the Department of Music Dr Helen Julia Minors said performing to members of the local community had provided great exposure for the nine students chosen to play and sing on the night. "Student band PHILharmonics was among the students who were offered work following the event," she added.
Professor Peter Buse, who heads Performance and Screen Studies, introduced his school and urged guests to make time during the evening to watch one of the three performances of the production ‘A Mother's Love' which took place in the theatre's first-floor studio. Performed by five second year drama students, the short play examined differing societal pressures on new mothers.
The evening's main performances were held in the theatre's auditorium. Two poignant drama productions were interspersed with three action-packed dances and a short talk from University Vice-Chancellor Professor Julius Weinberg.
The first play - a modern and moving take on Shakespeare's King Lear highlighting the impact of dementia on families - was performed by six second year drama students. Tuesday Andrew-Scott, who took the lead role, said she'd been touched by the audience's reaction. "We wrote the piece ourselves and it was an amazing experience for us to perform it at the Rose Theatre," she added. "Several people have told me that our play struck a chord with them because they know someone with dementia." The second production, entitled Mortiz, acted by four final-year degree students, featured a papier mâché puppet and focused on the role of the forces in British culture.
Alongside current dance students performing, a number of university alumni also returned to their alma mater for the event. Viviana Rocha, who graduated with a Kingston dance degree two years ago, said she and two former classmates had jumped at the chance to get involved in the civic reception.
"Our head of dance Jason Piper recently got in touch to say he had a paid engagement for ‘What is Written' - the dance company we formed after graduating," she explained. "In all honesty, we would have done it for free, though, because two years on we are actually making a living from what we love to do and that's all thanks to the fantastic training we received from the University."
Professor Weinberg said he'd been delighted to be able to welcome friends from both near, such as local residents associations, and far - from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. "We believe universities should be open to the public, both physically and intellectually, " he explained. "We hold our annual civic event to make sure we are in touch with the concerns of our stakeholders and to provide opportunities for the community to get involved with what we do."
Sophie Cavanagh, headteacher of new secondary borough school The Kingston Academy, took the opportunity to mingle with representatives from the University's education liaison team. "As one third of the Kingston Educational Trust which set up The Kingston Academy, the University is absolutely vital to the school's future success so it was great to talk through exciting potential activities we can develop for the children," she said.
Professor Weinberg closed the event by reiterating the University's ambition to be an educational and cultural focal point within Kingston. "We are proud to be part of what is rapidly becoming one of the most vibrant boroughs in London," he added.