Equality & Diversity @ Central

This Mahara view provides you with news and information relating to issues of Equality and Diversity at Central. This term's newsletter focuses on the things that go on in courses, and there's a bit of news about extra-curricula events too.

During 2010/11, we piloted a print newsletter and this year we're going digital! We hope you enjoy reading about the life of the institution, and if you would like to contribute to the next newsletter, email Catherine McNamara (Deputy Dean of Studies) at catherine.mcnamara@cssd.ac.uk

HEADLINES

  • MA Acting for Screen: diversity in the Critical Contexts curriculum
  • BA Theatre Practice: performance project based on transgender identity
  • Black History Month (BA Acting performance & Student Union events)
  • Disability History Month (World HIV/AIDS Day & Student Support Services)
  • Black & Asian Alumni Network (In-conversation with James Earl Jones & Nonso Anozie)
  • BA Theatre Practice focus on disability in theatre practice
  • E&D Contacts (academic staff)
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MA Acting for Screen

Diversity in the curriculum

As part of Critical Context: Screen Study unit in the Autumn Term, the MA Acting for Screen students looked at film language and cultural politics of various representations in film and TV.  

They looked at productions of masculinities and American ideologies in the Fox Network series 24 (pictured below); transsexuality, gender, embodiment and contemporary notions of beauty in Almadovar's The Skin I Live In; feminist discourse in the character of the femme fatale in the genre of Film Noir; disability discourses and principles of limitation, freedom and social norms of behaviour in The Idiots (a dogme 95 film) as well as contemporary cultural representations of British Blackness in the TV drama Top Boy (pictured above).  

Students were encouraged to draw on their own identities, politics and experiences in order to form their thoughts and to problematise representation and readings of performance in film and TV.

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Exploring white, American masculinity on MA Acting for Screen: Jack Bauer played by Keifer Sutherland in 24

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Matilda at the World HIV/ AIDS Day Bake Sale

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Disability History Month (Nov/ Dec 2011)

Disability History Month ran from 22nd November to 22nd December 2011. This covered World HIV/AIDS Day (1st December), International Day of People with Disabilities (3rd December) and International Human Rights Day (8th December). It also followed on directly from Anti-Bullying Week (15th to 19th November) which is important as 2.5 times as much bullying is recorded towards disabled as compared to non-disabled young people (70-80% of young disabled people in the UK claim to have been bullied in school and college).

Bake Sale fundraiser for World HIV/AIDS Day

The Student Union hosted a Bake Sale to raise money for World HIV/AIDS day on 1st December 2011. Cakes were baked and donated by students and all of the money will be going towards CHIVA (Childrens HIV Association). This charity was chosen as they do not have enough money to run their annual support camp in 2012.

The CHIVA support camp is a chance for HIV Positive children across the UK and Ireland to learn about living well with HIV, meet other HIV Positive young people and take part in creative and outdoor activities. The Bake Sale rasied approximately £256.08 which is the highest amount raised at Central in 3 years! The winning bakes were:

Most Sold: Ajira Bouchada - Chocolate Mama

Best Looking: Charlotte Newport and Lucy Clarke - Winter Wonderland Fairy Tale

Tastiest Treat: Kirsty Niven & Rajai Denbrooke - Creamy Coffee cake

Largest quanitity made: Joe Parslow and Ben Giddens

Central's Disability & Dyslexia Service provides:
  • a drop-in service for advice on issues relating to disability/dyslexia
  • free dyslexia 30-minute screening appointments
  • dyslexia diagnostic appointments
  • 1:1 specific study-skills support
  • 1:1 enabling and assistive technology training
  • mentoring
  • note-taking
  • British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting
  • assisting students with applications to their funding body e.g. Student Finance England (SFE), Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for Disabled Students’ Allowance
  • needs assessments
  • disseminating information to relevant academic and other departments.
The definition of disability that Central works to includes not just those with mobility or sensory impairments, but also a wide range of other conditions including mental health difficulties such as depression, learning difficulties (including Specific Learning Difficulties such as dyslexia or dyspraxia) and unseen medical conditions (such as diabetes or a heart condition), or progressive and fluctuating conditions (such as multiple sclerosis, HIV, cancer, epilepsy or Crohn’s Disease). A ‘long-term adverse effect’ is one that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months or is likely to become permanent.
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Graeae Theatre Company in the curriculum

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Graeae Spring Touring Production 2012: REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL (pictured above) http://www.graeae.org/productions/reasons-to-be-cheerful-the-tour/

BA Theatre Practice focus on disability in Theatre Practice

Graeae Theatre Company are committed to ‘removing the barriers to training that disabled people still face (Sealey in A Guide To Inclusive Theatre Practice In The Theatre: For Teachers, Directors, Practitioners and Staff, Graeae Theatre Company (2009: 3), available at www.graeae.org

The company has been supporting and working in partnership with existing drama schools and drama departments in universities throughout the country for over a decade. They are committed to creating and supporting arts training provisions that welcome difference and enable real inclusion for deaf and disabled people in the arts.

Central’s partnership with Graeae is manifold and appears within a number of the degrees and courses. This includes an annual masterclass in devising with actors with disabilities and non-disabilities as part of BA DATE Models of Devising for Performance course, plus BA and MA placements. This has resulted in an alumni now working professionally for Graeae. Most recently Graeae collaborated with a DATE member of staff to deliver a 3-hour session to approximately 100 first year BA Theatre Practice students in the Embassy Theatre in November 2011 that offered an insight into the work and history of Graeae. Jenny Sealey, the Artistic Director of Graeae (and Co-Artistic Director of the Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony) gave a passionate and good-humoured insight into the work, achievements and challenges experienced by the company using photo and video footage of past and current productions.

Jenny also referred to her own experiences as a deaf drama student and a TIE actor where she experienced consistent prejudices and limited ideas of the body and performance.  She is now particularly interested in the aesthetics of access and is committed to making theatre that can be enjoyed and accessed by all – and not just for those people without disabilities. The Company’s Production and Tour Manager also offered an insight into his own assumptions around the limitations of disability before joining the company and how he now leads on the daring and myth-breaking production side of the company’s work.

The session was complimented with a presentation by Liselle Terret (BA DATE) who provided a critically theoretical and political contextualisation of disability and the performing arts so as to offer the students a relevant framework to refer to their own experiences, and perhaps challenge their own attitudes and assumptions around disability within their own lives. The presentation sought to draw parallels between discrimination in relation to disability, and racism and sexism as a way of demonstrating the construction of such prejudices. She looked at the consequences of such discriminatory practices including the exclusion of disabled people from society and the legal acceptance of institutionalised discrimination which through the presence of the Equality Act (previously the Disability Discrimination Act) can now be legally challenged and changed on the basis  that we are dealing with a human rights issue.

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BA (Hons) Theatre Practice

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BA Theatre Practice's Danny West's piece, Linck, 23rd - 25th November 2011 (photo by Helen Barwick)

BA Theatre Practice (Performance Arts strand) students were working on the Professional Development Task in the Autumn Term. Danny West wrote and directed a piece based on a real account of a transgender man before the idea of 'trans' had been articulated the way we understand it today.

The piece focuses on Linck, born in 1694 who lived at a time when Europe became 'enlightened'. Linck dressed and lived as male and was ultimately sentenced to execution by the sword for the crime of sodomy. The relationship between Linck and his wife Muhlhahn explores the love between two people who disregard their sex and the idea of fixed sexuality. The piece looks at how personal life is used for public function; demonisation, defamation and destruction of an individual for an ideology's gain.

One student who saw the piece said "I found it really interesting as a backdrop to compare today’s views on sexuality. Often we just take for granted the freedom we have in our society as it’s all we’re used to, and actually this isn’t the case everywhere in the world".

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Black History Month (October 2011)

Black History Month celebration through performance

On 26th October a group of students from across the three Pathways of the BA (Hons) Acting course performed a celebration of Black History Month.

Fellow student Emma Blecker (BA Acting 3rd Year) said of the event  "It not only celebrated the roots of Central's diversity, but brought about an exciting collaboration that was new to both audience and artists. The performers were creative and daring in their subject matter, and spoke (and sang) from places that were deeply personal. They allowed the audience to become involved in their experiences, to have opinions about their opinions, and to answer the questions that they posed. They created an atmosphere that was both respectful and interactive. This exciting event should serve as an inspiration for Central students of all backgrounds to pursue further collaborative efforts outside of the curriculum as a means to celebrate histories and idealisms that inspire us."

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The performers of the Black History Month celebration 26th October 2011

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Student Union Black History Month event

The Black and Ethnic minorities officers (Matilda & Raksha) had a busy Black History Month with a Black history themed quiz, afro-carribean food sale and grand finale in the Students Union bar. The SU bar was decorated with beautiful African fabrics and professional artists from outside Central were invited to perform. This included singers, rappers and poets. It was an incredible night which also brought a diverse group of students to the bar for different music and food.

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Black & Asian Alumni Network (BAAN) host an In-Conversation event with James Earl Jones and Nonso Anozie

The Black & Asian Alumni Network (BAAN) hosted an in-conversation event with James Earl Jones and Nonso Anozie on 17th November 2011. This was, at the request of Mr Jones, a small and low-key event. 41 current students, alumni and staff were able to gather in Performance Space 1 and hear these two actors discussing a range of interesting topics including James' experience of having a stutter as a young person, his experience of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and his response to being thought of as an inspirational figure for young Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) actors.

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MA Actor Training & Coaching student, Pamela Jikiemi said of the event "It was revelatory and riveting. I felt humbled and even though he does not seek to be an inspiration, sitting there, listening inspired me to maintain my focus and persevere. I applaued BAAN at Central and am proud to be a part of it."

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E&D named contacts (academic staff)

Several members of academic staff at Central act as named contacts for matters that have an equality and/ or diversity aspect to them. This includes issues specific to the experiences of non-UK students, issues relating to race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion & belief and other aspects of diversity.

 

These named members of staff will be able to listen to your issue and advise you about the best course of action to take in relation to the issue.

 

You can (and should) speak directly to any of your course staff about any issue that is affecting your studies at any point. You can make use of the Course Committee system to raise issues that you and your peers feel are of significance and you do this through your Course Rep.

 

The Equality & Diversity Contacts are available if for some reason, you would prefer to raise your issue with them. You may contact the person associated with your course/ area, or staff from other courses/ areas.

 

All staff email addresses follow the firstname.surname@cssd.ac.uk format.

  

Postgraduate Applied Practices area: Selina Busby  

 

Postgraduate Performance & Production area: Nick Wood

 

BA Acting (all Pathways): Helen Heaslip 

 

BA DATE:

Dr. Stephen Farrier and Kat Low (matters relating to equality & diversity)

Dr. Lynne Kendrick (international student matters)

 

BA Theatre Practice (all Strands):

Dot Young (matters relating to equality & diversity)

Gregg Fisher (international student matters)

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