Staff profile: Hollie Wright

Hollie Wright is a Lecturer on the BA Design for Performance: Theatre, Film and Live Events course in the School of Visual Communication. We caught up with her to find out more about how she balances her different roles across the university and what students can expect from the course.

Can you describe what you do and how you balance all of your responsibilities?

I wear several hats for BCU! My primary role is being a Lecturer on the BA Design for Performance: Theatre, Film & Live Events course. In this role I lead and contribute to modules across all three years of the course and run an enrichment boutique, promoting exciting opportunities that arise for our students.

I'm also a Lecturer on the BA Stage Management course, where I lead production design modules for first and second year students, as well as running a final year module called 'Industry Research', which gives students the opportunity to gain industry experience through work placements.

I have been School Champion for Marketing and Recruitment for the last couple of years, developing school and college connections for the Design for Performance: Theatre, Film and Live Events course. This has involved arranging and delivering many course presentations, showing school and college students what it's like to study at BCU. This role has recently been absorbed into a School Lead for Marketing and Recruitment where I support a range of activities including content creation and events for prospective students.

Time management is challenging! Made all the more so during this current lockdown as I'm juggling all these hats along with home schooling and toddler entertainment! I think organisation is key - I use colour to code my daily schedules, calendars and corresponding files. I have experience in this from my design career, when I'd be designing for and production managing many projects for different music festivals throughout the summer!

What can students expect from the course?

The Design for Performance: Theatre, Film and Live Events course is extremely varied! As a subject rarely studied before university, we attract students from a range of different backgrounds. Our first year offers students the opportunity to experience, learn and develop the core principles of spatial design and the figure within, particularly looking at theatre. You can expect to learn techniques including research, narrative development, model making, technical drawing and costume designs. The projects are designed as building blocks and feature elements of collaboration as well as individual practice.

The second year builds upon this with opportunities to apply these principles to different areas of the industry, such as experimental film or exhibition design, as well as engaging with both digital and analogue practice. You will gain invaluable experience working on live briefs which have recently included Boomtown Music Festival and the V&A Museum.

When you reach the half way point within your degree you are able to take the reins and drive the direction of your study. Final year projects really vary and can be anything from digital character design for film, to full scale installation, theatrical performance design in collaboration with the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, to puppetry. This varied output makes for an extremely rich and interesting graduate show!

Can you tell us about the Paper Sculpture Project?

The paper project, as it's known, has been a highlight in the exhibition calendar! This is a project in the first year which is a simple yet extremely effective approach to experiential learning. Over just a few weeks and with a large supply of corrugated card brown paper, students are set the task of creating a themed environment using only their ingenuity and these basic materials. The aim is to encourage students to engage with fundamental principles associated with performance design including scale, narrative, space, light, sound, audience and collaboration; as well as skills that are difficult to teach, like tenacity and determination. As a student-led project we have full confidence in the students' research, skills and abilities to produce high-level work that is consistently presented. The paper project is often referred to as a highlight by our graduates and the unique outcomes frequently feature in graduate portfolios.

The course has recently moved to the School of Art's Margaret Street building. How are you finding this and what new opportunities does it offer?

Whilst we haven't had long physically in the building, we feel an incredibly 'at home' atmosphere, not only created by the staff and students who form the School of Art, but the way the building functions. Our students have been producing an incredibly broad range of outcomes and there is a dedicated workshop for almost whatever is required. Being in the city centre and opposite the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a fantastic location and offers inspiration (and good coffee) right on our doorstep!

BA Design for Performance: Theatre, Film and Live Events

Find out more about the course