Wednesday, 26 September 2012 15:19

Festival fever reaches College


From photography to Shakespeare, East Berkshire College students showcased their skills this week as part of the annual Windsor Fringe Festival.

Joining the festival's popular Artists Open House event for the first time, the College held a special art exhibition at its Windsor Campus on Saturday (22nd) and Sunday (23rd September). Despite the rain, art enthusiasts visited the show to view an impressive array of artwork by students and staff from across the College's range of creative courses.

Reflecting the individuality and creativity of the students, the work on display included 3D design, abstract paintings, printmaking, photography, graphic design, textiles and fashion.

Meanwhile, performing arts students took to the stage to deliver a captivating modern interpretation of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet at the Firestation Centre for Arts and Culture on Tuesday (25th September). Set amidst a heavy metal Goth subculture for today's audiences, the timeless love story re-examined the themes of family feuds, gangland violence and teenage love. Romeo _Juliet_Web

Peter Mills, Director of Curriculum at East Berkshire College, said: "The Windsor Fringe Festival is an excellent celebration of our community's artistic talent and the College is delighted to be involved in this year's event. This is the first time we have taken part in the festival and it is a great opportunity to showcase the skills of our students across all our creative courses. As well as a special art exhibition at our Windsor Campus, our performing arts department staged a modern version of Romeo & Juliet at the Firestation Centre for Arts and Culture."

Student Savita Sandhu agrees: "It has been a great opportunity to have my work recognised in this way and be part of a bigger community event."

For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of creative courses, click here or call 0845 373 2500.

Published in Creative Studies

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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.

Published in Creative Studies
Friday, 22 June 2012 10:23

Students bring the Bard to life

Two of Shakespeare's classic tragedies were given a modern twist last week by talented performing arts students from East Berkshire College. Macbeth 4_Home_web

A cast of 29 students from the College's Langley Campus took to the stage to deliver captivating versions of two of the English playwright's greatest works; Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. Both productions had all the intensity and poetry you would expect, but with modern costumes and settings.

Set amidst a heavy metal Goth subculture for today's audiences, Romeo and Juliet explored the themes of family feuds, gangland violence and teenage love. Meanwhile, students performed a dramatic Tarantino-style version of 'The Scottish Play' complete with sharp-suited gangsters and a kicking soundtrack.

Making an impression as the murderous Macbeth was first year student James Brooke (18, from Windsor).

James says: "I was so pleased to land the lead role as I really wanted this part. The language is so poetic - it has a real rhythm to it. Macbeth is a complex character, so I did a lot of research beforehand. I really wanted to show his transition from a nice guy to a power-mad man.

"As well as rehearsing, we have all worked together to create the set, props, costumes and marketing material. It's been hard work, but the lecturers have been very supportive. They are a real inspiration."

The productions were staged as part of a module of the College's Performing Arts BTEC National Diploma course. The students have spent the term developing their skills in this area of performance.

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 links with the Firestation Arts Centre.

The students will also be performing Romeo and Juliet as part of the Windsor Fringe Festival 2012 on Tuesday 25 September at the Firestation Arts Centre in Windsor.

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

Published in Performing Arts
Ladies sitting_with_flowers_homepageReading Minster was awash with roses, chrysanthemums and delphiniums at the weekend thanks to students from East Berkshire College's Windsor Campus. Six talented students, who are all on the part-time contemporary flower arranging course, were invited to create some beautiful displays for the special remembrance service on Sunday (27th May) to mark the Queen's Jubilee.

The student florists and their lecturer, Liz Aston, showcased their creative skills by decorating Reading Minster with two stunning pedestals and two window arrangements for the event.

Part-time student Maureen Salter (from Windsor) was one of the individuals responsible for the colourful creations:

"I have never created a display on this scale before, so it was very exciting. It was wonderful to work with such beautiful flowers and a real honour to be able to contribute to the jubilee celebrations.

"I thoroughly enjoy the flower arranging classes at the College. I find it very relaxing to go to the class at the end of the day and it is a brilliant skill to learn. My family and friends can even appreciate the benefits of the course as I often put together bouquets, baskets and table decorations for them."

Sessional lecturer Liz Aston, who is also a freelance florist, explains: "The College was thrilled to be asked to create some contemporary flower arrangements for the service. The students were extremely enthusiastic about the project and have worked really hard to produce some truly beautiful installations."

The College offers a wide variety of part-time and evening courses ranging from introductory right through to degree level. These include languages, cookery, digital photography, wine tasting, computing, business, accounting and teacher training.

Published in Creative Studies

schools panto_tourThe school term ended last week with a whirl of colourful costumes, swashbuckling pirates and a talking scarecrow. Children at local primary schools were transported to the enchanting Land of Oz and a mysterious desert island thanks to talented performing arts students from East Berkshire College.

A cast of 14 students, who are all studying at the College's Langley Campus, performed two 45 minute pantomimes 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'Treasure Island' as part of a festive tour for schools. Both productions had all the elements you would expect from a classic panto, such as adventure, music, dancing, excitement and lots of audience participation.

Student Ashley Pearse (17), who played Dorothy in the show, explains: "This is the first time we've performed for children, so we weren't sure what to expect. The stories and characters are well-known, but we have put our own modern twist on it. For example, we have included some modern songs that the children can sing along to and easy actions so they can join in with the routines."

Syne Thorton-Fry (17), who took on the role of Squeaky Monkey, added: "Seeing the children's reactions has to be the most rewarding part for me, but one of the biggest challenges was adapting the show to the different size spaces available in each school."

Entertaining groups of between 40 and 250 children at a time, the tour visited a number of schools in the area including Langley Manor and Langley Hall Primary Academy.

Jane Sculpher, Head of School at Langley Hall Primary Academy, said: "It's a wonderful opportunity to have the College's theatre group come into the school. The children thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a real treat."

The 'Adventures in Panto-land' school tour was created as part of a module of the College's Performing Arts BTEC National Diploma course. The students, who are all in their second year, have spent the term developing their skills in this area of performance.

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

Published in Performing Arts
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 00:00

Kirsty strikes gold at WorldSkills 2011

kirsty Hoadley_news_01_400pxA talented East Berkshire College student has been crowned the world's top young visual merchandiser. Kirsty Hoadley, who recently completed a retail and merchandising display course at the Windsor Campus, won the gold medal for visual merchandising at WorldSkills London 2011 - the world's largest international skills competition for young people.

Kirsty (20, from Slough) showcased her skills by designing, planning and creating two stunning window displays as part of the four-day competition at ExCel London. Beating contenders from across the globe, Kirsty was presented with her medal at a prestigious Olympics-style closing ceremony at The O2 Arena on Sunday (9 October).

Overwhelmed by the win, Kirsty said: "I am over the moon with the result. It's great to see all the hard work and training has paid off. The entire experience has been fantastic. I've met some amazing people, made lots of industry contacts and learnt so much."

"I owe a lot to my lecturers at East Berkshire College. It is because of them that I got involved in this competition and they have supported me throughout. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do when I started College, but they believed in me and taught me how to channel my creativity. Going to college really has changed my life."

As part of her preparation for WorldSkills, Kirsty was given the opportunity to work with visual merchandising teams for Debenhams, Selfridges and Harrods.

"This competition has opened so many doors for me" explains Kirsty. "A lot of companies have approached me about my work and possible projects. I've also been accepted on a visual merchandising course at the London College of Fashion. Winning WorldSkills is such an achievement and I hope it will help raise the profile of visual merchandising as a career."

More than 1,000 young people from 52 countries took part in the event, competing in 46 skill areas from bricklaying to web design. Over 200,000 visitors, which included the Prime Minister David Cameron and Skills Minister John Hayes, watched the competitors battle it out.

Praising the achievements of Kirsty and the other 12 medal winners, Skills Minister John Hayes said: "Kirsty is a great example of UK talent. People like Kirsty reinforce my strong belief that practical skill is no less worthy of recognition than academic achievement. They have laid the foundations for happy, productive lives for themselves and shown their peers how much talent, hard work and ambition can achieve."

kirsty Hoadley_news_02_400pxSue Leadbeater, lecturer at East Berkshire College, enthuses: "We are all very proud of Kirsty. It has been great to see her progress and grow over her time at the college. Her gold medal win is deserved recognition for her skills, professionalism and dedication. She is a very talented individual with a bright future ahead of her."

The College's Retail and Merchandising Display Department, which is based at the Windsor Campus, is a centre of excellence for display design. The courses are highly respected within the industry, having received several awards from the British Display Society. Former students have gone onto successful careers with leading retailers such as Harrods, John Lewis and Debenhams.

For further information on East Berkshire College and its retail and merchandising display courses call 0845 373 2500.

Published in Retail Merchandising

james fairBudding movie makers at East Berkshire College were given an insight into the world of filmmaking, when former student and acclaimed independent film director James Fair visited the Windsor Campus.

James, who graduated from East Berkshire College in 1999 with three A Levels, returned to the place where his success story began to talk to media students about his career in the film industry. A career that has seen him direct and produce programmes for Channel Four, make a number of independent feature films including The Ballard of Des and Mo (2010) and become a university lecturer.

James, who grew up in Slough, said: "The filmmaking industry is a challenging one and I have been fortunate to be consistently working. My career takes me to many different countries and projects, but for me it all began in the media suites of East Berkshire College. The lecturers there changed my view of education, they made learning fun and I gained a variety of valuable skills.

"No matter what success you achieve, you should never forget where you came from. I've been where these students are now and I'm pleased to be able to pass on the benefit of my experience to them. The College helped me get to where I am now, so I was keen to give something back and help the next generation."

Last year, James enjoyed success and controversy at the Melbourne International Film Festival when he made the audience top 10 with a feature length movie he shot, edited and screened in just 72 hours.

For his next film, James is teaming up with another former East Berkshire College student, actress Katie Sheridan. The movie, which centres round a young journalist played by Katie, will begin shooting this summer.

James' visit is 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.

Media student Alfie Hall (from Maidenhead) said "It was great to meet someone who has been where we are now and made it in the film industry. The fact he's taken time out to return to the College shows how important his college years were to him. I found his talk really inspiring. He even made time to give us one-to-one advice and answer our questions."

East Berkshire College continues to go from strength to strength with an outstanding 100% pass rate for A Levels in 2010, placing it in the top 5 per cent of UK schools and colleges.

The College offers a wide range of A Level (AS and A2) subjects at its Windsor Campus including Law, Media Studies, Spanish, Politics, English Literature, Biology, History and Photography. The campus also hosts specialist courses in Science, Business, Media and Retail and Merchandising Display.

For further information on East Berkshire College call 0845 373 2500

Published in Creative Studies
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