Introduction to The Network Ensemble

Introduction to The Network Ensemble – co-produced by SDTN and Pleasance Futures.

The Scottish Drama Training Network is funded by the Scottish Funding Council to promote and influence drama training in Scotland and to work in partnership with the education sector and industry to support graduate pathways.

Following research with the network’s students and lecturers in 2016, a range of issues faced by recent graduates and early career theatre makers were identified; with factors such as geography, finance, caring responsibilities and a lack of sector specific knowledge and industry contacts highlighted as having a detrimental influence on career progression.

Additionally, many students from outside the ‘Central Belt’ spoke of their desire be part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which they recognised as an important and global industry showcase, but were unable to do so, due to costs involved especially for accommodation in Edinburgh in August and travel to Edinburgh from other areas of Scotland.

In response to this, The Network Ensemble was created through a unique education and industry partnership. Established by Lucy Vaughan, Director SDTN and Anthony Alderson, Director Pleasance Theatre Trust, with the aim of creating new opportunities for emerging artists to work with industry professionals. This involved having the support in place, such as accommodation, to overcome some of the barriers to participation, and to produce a showcase of emerging talent from Scotland, in an annual production at the Pleasance Theatre.

In an evaluation of the Ensemble 2017, conducted for SDTN and Pleasance Futures by Briana Pregado, an independent researcher, it was noted that not only had the experience of working as part of the Ensemble for 7 weeks been an outstanding experience in developing the participants’ theatre craft and professionalism, but that there were significant learning outcomes around connecting to and understanding how the theatre sector worked:

Being part of the Fringe was a wonderful opportunity to get exposure to other work and other artists, which was an opportunity many ensemble members had not had previously and would not have had without being part of the ensemble.

Being part of the Pleasance Theatre Trust’s programme and having access to Fringe Central made training opportunities available to them that they would not otherwise have.

Propeller 2018 Induction Day. Photo © Robin Mitchell

The Process

In a process of development workshops, auditions and interviews, held in colleges and Universities, SDTN works with 100s of Acting, Performance, Design and Technical Theatre final year students across Scotland to select the Ensemble participants.

The inaugural production in August 2017 was Snowflake, written and directed by Mark Thomson and performed at Pleasance Above by an Ensemble of 8 performers and 8 creative and technical team graduates drawn from all part of Scotland.

The Network Ensemble 2018 brings a brand new production to Pleasance Above: Propeller, devised by the ensemble and directed by Caitlin Skinner, with a brand new cast and creative team from SDTN’s network.

Design by Zoe Leung

So you want to change the world? Really? You? You Instagram checking, avo-smashing, coconut-flat-white sipping loser? Yeah, the world sucks sometimes – OK, a lot. But you can’t do anything about it. Can you? This show says yes, yes you can. Maybe.

If you ever feel frustrated about the way things are but don’t know what to do about it, this is the show for you.

A devised piece about power and the possibility of change.

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