College and Firestation Arts team-up to ignite new talent

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Two rising stars of the silver screen were guests of honour at a special launch event on Friday (22nd June) to celebrate East Berkshire College's new partnership with the Firestation Centre for Arts & Culture in Windsor.

As part of the event, actors and former students David Gyasi and Katie Sheridan returned to talk to the College's performing arts students about their illustrious careers on the stage and screen.

David, who graduated from East Berkshire College in 1998/9, has just finished filming an episode of Doctor Who for BBC1 and will be appearing on the big screen later in the year in the film Cloud Atlas with Tom Hanks as well as the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.

David, who met his wife Emma while studying at the Langley Campus, said: "East Berkshire College introduced me to some really inspirational people and opened my mind to different aspects of the arts, from modern dance to classical music. It gave me a first taste of the industry, providing me with a safe environment to explore and develop my skills. The lecturers instilled in us a real sense of team work and respect for others, which I have taken with me throughout my career.

"I started in the same place as these students, so I'm pleased to be able to return and share my knowledge with them. I think it is brilliant that the College and The Firestation are working together to provide students with real experience in a professional venue. My advice is to dream big and try new things. One of the best bits of advice I was given recently is: You should dream ridiculous dreams because being realistic is just setting yourself a sequence of achievable goals."

Actress Katie Sheridan, who is probably best known for her role as Sophie Norton in the children's series Genie in the House on the Nickelodeon Channel, agrees.

"It was very exciting to come back and see the next generation starting out. The students were really eager and responsive. My advice to any budding young actors would be to absorb everything you can from your teachers and get involved in the industry through youth theatre."

"I remember seeing the pantomime Peter Pan when I was four and thinking that's what I want to do. At College, my teachers were so supportive and gave me the space to develop my skills. I had the chance to try acting, stand-up comedy, dance and stage management to discover what my strengths were. My college days were a very special time in my life and gave me a great start." Front homepage

From September, the College's performing arts courses will relocate to the Windsor Campus in St Leonards Road in order to benefit from Windsor's vibrant arts scene and partnership with The Firestation. The arts centre, which is housed in the town's old firestation, will play host to College productions and provide performing arts students with valuable work experience as part of their course.

Dan Eastmond, Managing Director of The Firestation, explains: "Many people will know us as a busy venue and social space, but Firestation Arts invests a huge amount of energy in encouraging and supporting people to live a creative and cultural life, whatever shape that takes.

"The partnership with the College will be a hugely important part of this work going forward, providing students not only with regular use of a working venue, but also bringing their skills and voices into the mix via the work experience programme. It's going to be a very exciting time!"

The Firestation is a contemporary arts centre in the heart of Windsor showing an exciting programme of films, comedy, dance, theatre, 2D and time based art.

David and Katie's visit was part of a series of talks by guest speakers and former students, which are organised by the College to enhance the learning experience of its students and demonstrate how the curriculum relates to future careers.

For further information on East Berkshire College and its performing arts courses, click here or call 0845 373 2500.

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