Provocative depictions of gender, mental health and lad culture are among the performances staged by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) Drama students at their end-of-year festival.
Taking place throughout the university’s PACE building, Exit Souls is the annual showcase by DMU’s Drama Studies department, offering a selection of the finest original works, contemporary adaptations and live art installations by students across all three years of the course.
Opening to the public on Wednesday (24 May), the show gives students the chance to take centre stage, as well as to work backstage on all technical aspects including stage management, lighting and sound.
Kelly Jordan, Senior Lecturer in Drama Studies and the event coordinator, said: “Exit Souls celebrates some of the most outstanding and diverse performance work from throughout the year, highlighting student achievement and giving the audience a taste of the next generation of talent.
“It gives students public performance experience and we’ve seen many featured in previous Exit Souls events go on to perform in a professional context including performances at the Attenborough Arts Centre and Leicester Comedy Festival.
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Final-year student Courtney Richter is excited to be performing two pieces at the show. Drawing on her own mental health struggles, the first is a powerful durational piece performed in a shower.
The 21-year-old from Nottingham said: “Spectators are invited for a one-on-one performance, so it will be a very unique experience for them.
“It’s a very personal piece and I feel that live art is a good way to reduce the stigma around mental health issues, which is sadly still prevalent in society today.”
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Courtney, whose second piece is a tribute to her late grandmother which draws on dark humour, added: “It feels great to be part of Exit Souls. Last year I was a stage manager so coming out from behind the scenes is like passing some kind of threshold.”
Inspired by the punk drag acts established in the 1960s, final-year student Daniel Sykes (stage name Reign) is subverting stereotypical definitions of gender.
Daniel challenges gender stereotypes
“Gender is a complete social construct and shouldn’t define us. My piece takes what was the known societal ‘truth’ about women’s roles and explodes it onto the canvas of my own male body,” said the 21-year-old from London.
His studio-based durational piece will see him perform roles traditionally assigned to women – such as ironing and preparing a packed-lunch – which become more frenzied and unconventional as he repeats them.
He said: “Being part of Exit Souls is a very nice accolade to be awarded. I’m pleased to have the quality of my work recognised in this way, and to fulfil my ambition of performing it to as wide an audience as possible.”
Performing a piece on how lad culture is perceived by outsiders, first-year student Nathen Trask describes Exit Souls as a chance “to show the world what DMU can really do”.
The 19-year-old from Norfolk said: “It feels completely surreal to be chosen to perform and I can't wait for us to show parents, students and those considering DMU as their first choice university, how we have benefited from this year. I feel as though the experience I’ve gained will help me in the future.”
Performances are picked through a yearlong nomination process, during which staff and students put exceptional works forward for the event, with around 20 pieces being showcased in this year’s Exit Souls.
Posted on Monday 22nd May 2017