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National festival will be taken on a 'wild ride'

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: June 07, 2012

Pulling no punches: A scene from Leather, described by writer Dean Graham as "fuelled by violence, vice and dubstep"

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The National Student Drama Festival has been discovering, nurturing and promoting the best of new talent for more than 50 years, and a group of students from Lincoln has been chosen to perform at the 2012 event.

For one year only, the event is going global, becoming the International Student Drama Festival.

The nine-day event of theatre, workshops and debate will be held in Sheffield and feature ten international and ten national plays incorporating Leather, written by Dean Graham from the University of Lincoln.

Other institutions travelling to Sheffield to perform include Harvard University from America, Intombi Zomqanca from Zimbabwe and a performance from the Festival of Australian Theatre.

Dean, 24, in his final year studying Drama, says: "I originally submitted a half-hour version of Leather for a course module at the university, with the intention of writing the full length play to potentially take up to the Edinburgh Festival.

"Then we had a showcase event where three of us, all university students, who had applied to be part of this festival put on an event for them at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre."

The ISDF selection panel saw more than 120 UK student shows from which they shortlisted 26 and selected 10. One of them was Leather.

"Leather is a bit of a wild ride," says Dean, who is also performing as Dubh in the play. "It's very filmatic in the way it's presented.

"Leather is fuelled by violence, vice and dubstep. Essentially it's an urban crime drama.

"But a lot of the play is also driven by philosophy. A character in it called Boss, played by Nicholas Holden, struggles with himself as a human being. The protagonist is Gaius, played by Danny Ridealgh, a small time thief who is trying to make a better life for himself and his drug dependant girlfriend Venia, played by Abigail Smith.

"He does that by carrying out heists on passing trucks with his Kiwi friend Timo, played by Joe Murray. The play takes place in the aftermath of the latest heist of a truck full of red leather sofas."

Also at the festival, leading theatre companies, including the Royal Shakespeare Company, drama schools and technicians will host workshops on subjects such as acting, writing, directing, design, lighting, sound, costume, puppetry, choreography and stage fighting.

There will also be numerous opportunities including drama school auditions, free head shot photo sessions, the chance to win work experience placements and cash for forthcoming productions.

"We are performing on the first weekend so we have six days afterwards to absorb what else is on offer at the festival including the workshops," says Dean. "The festival will offer us an element of exposure that everyone working in drama is striving to gain. It also offers a lot of information and knowledge from people with experience in the industry.

"I am happy and very proud of the work. We are also taking Leather to the Edinburgh Festival, although the majority of the cast will be different for that. Then it will be coming back to Lincoln where we are performing it in October at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre."

Anyone, aged 16 and over can attend the festival, watch the productions and take part in the workshops, debates and events. If you are thinking of travelling to it there are nine, six and three-day tickets available which entitle you to see all the shows and attend all the workshops. Nine Day Ticket: £150; Six Day Ticket: £100; Three Day Ticket: £50. To book and find out more go to www.ideastap.com/nsdf

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