A group of entrepreneurial actors have shared their expertise with drama students at their former college after setting-up an educational theatre company.
Courtney Price, Stephanie Davison and Lisa Fraser returned to Sunderland College to speak to current students about their successful company Educating Social Change Through Theatre (ESCTT), which enhances and promotes social change through the use of performance.
The three actors founded ESCTT with colleagues Matthew Craddock and Ben Fisher in December through their university studies, as part of a project commissioned by Durham Prison.
They were approached by the prison’s Drug and Alcohol Recovery Team to create an educational performance to engage and educate prisoners about the dangers of substance misuse and the detrimental effect it can have on people’s lives.
Following the success of the project, the five University of Sunderland students have been asked to return to the prison for a regional event, which will focus on substance misuse.
They are now planning on expanding the theatre company and are devising a variety of topics to engage with a wide range of audiences, including schools and colleges, on social issues.
The third year drama degree students visited Sunderland College’s multi-million pound Visual and Performing Arts building at Bede Campus on Monday to perform their hard-hitting show to current drama students, and spoke to them about the work of ESCTT and its aims.
Twenty-year-old Courtney, who studied BTEC Level 3 in Acting and Foundation Degree in Drama qualifications at Sunderland College, said: “I was very excited and honoured to return home to perform for the current students at the college and to see our drama lecturers who first introduced us to our passion. I had a very positive experience at the college – the teaching staff encouraged me and I was supported throughout my time at the college which helped me to reach my full potential. I hope we have provided current students with inspiration to commit to their studies and to help them with their future college projects.”
ESCTT is being supported by Enterprise Place, which is teaching the group about running a business, and the actors are also seeking sponsorship to help the company to grow.
Courtney added: “ESCTT is about educating social change and is what every member of the company enjoys doing – it’s a privilege to turn your passion into a career.”
Gemma Whelam, drama lecturer at Sunderland College, said: “It was extremely rewarding to see my former students performing to our current students with the backdrop of our new facilities. Courtney, Lisa and Stephanie were excellent, conscientious students who really thrived in our community-based modules where they developed their ability to use theatre as an educational tool.
“The performance was a great way for our current students to gain an insight into prison drama and the process ESCTT went through to create their piece. I look forward to developing our relationship with the company in the future.”