Back in 1979 I was a fresh-faced (well a bit spotty) 18 year old making the long car journey in my Mini from Cumbria to Norwich to begin my Drama degree course at UEA. I’d really fouled up my A levels so was very grateful to UEA for ‘seeing the potential’ behind the poor grades (wouldn’t happen today – warning note to all our students – study hard!)
We were to be the first intake ever at UEA on the Drama degree course so the whole thing was new to everyone and we’d been invited to arrive a couple of days early for a project.
On arrival we met our tutors, and were introduced to a brand new, purpose built studio space which was to be our home for the next three years. We were given the theme ‘The Minotaur’ and no other guidance and asked to produce something over the next two days.
Well, we did – it was a fantastic way to get to know everyone and we bonded very quickly and very closely as a group. The project also made sure we tested out the new facilities and got rid of any nerves. I honestly can’t remember exactly what we did with the theme, but we reckoned it was pretty good. But the experience was invaluable and we suggested to the faculty that from then on, every Drama intake should do the same project.
We formed our own theatre group, Minotaur Student Theatre Company, to put on self-funded shows as a result which worked very well – averaging a couple of productions a term and always making money.
And I heard yesterday that one of Best’s long-standing students, Michael Bird, was going up to UEA to begin his Drama degree course – and that he’d been asked to go up early to take part in a project – called ‘Minotaur’.
I was at once proud, thrilled for Michael and overcome with a wave of nostalgia – and fair amount of jealousy! It’s great to see our ex-students really take flight and Michael has so much to look forward to.
So on the subject of ex-students, we have a 15 year anniversary coming up soon and soon there will be news of a Best alumni project to track our ex-students down. No-one is safe...