Ged Matthews, General Manager talks about Platform Theatre
The Platform Theatre complex at Central Saint Martins comprises four performance spaces and a bar. It’s constantly forging new partnerships between our students and the industry, nurturing collaborations across all disciplines.
The main events we hold are the students’ public performance, mostly from Drama Centre London (DCL) courses and Performance Design & Practice (PDP), but we also host events for MA Communication Design, BA Fine Art, BA Fashion, Research, MA Narrative Environments…basically every course we can pack in to our tight schedule!
DCL’s public performances employ directors, set, costume, lighting and sound designers from the industry. The focus is on acting excellence but we make these shows as professional and engaging as possible when we show them to the public.
The PDP performances showcase dynamic experiments in design, often focusing on innovations in theatrical techniques and materials.
We also host completely independent external events, including arts festivals like the London International Mime Festival, Dance Umbrella and the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT).
Initially they would simply hire the spaces. But we have been exploring ways to integrate what they do with what we do, and create professional opportunities for our students and graduates. For example, in October 2013 Dance Umbrella returned to the Platform after a successful festival the previous year. But this time they invested a significant amount of resources in developing student projects as part of the festival programme, giving them incredible exposure. A CSM student was even commissioned to design the poster for the festival.
This was a brilliant new model and one we’re rolling out with the other festivals.
We often collaborate with Ellie Mathieson and Stefan Sloneczny from CSM’s Innovation Business and External Relations (IBER) department and host corporate events, like the Future of Retail conference for WPP (the largest communications organisation in the world). At first WPP just wanted to hire the theatre for a one-day conference but, whilst we were giving them the tour, they saw one of the student productions and really loved the inventive use of lighting and materials. They hired 12 CSM graduates to make their event more of an immersive experience, and we also partnered with Nigel Barratt and Louise Mari from theatre collective SHUNT to push their ideas and designs. It was very rewarding to help recent grads get their first creative job and get paid!
We’re trying to use the energy and the attention that the whole King’s Cross development (the largest in Central London for over 150 years) is getting to make this not just a theatre and a bar, but a creative hub for all these new collaborations, partnerships and activities. It’s a valuable resource for CSM and UAL students and graduates, and also an extraordinary springboard into the professional world.