Case study: Shining a spotlight on Applied Theatre at BCU
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Case study: Shining a spotlight on Applied Theatre at BCU

Author: James Cresswell | Posted on: 4 June 2019

When we think about theatre, there are probably a number of different ideas that spring to mind. The spotlight on a great theatrical stage, perhaps, or the idea of actors “treading the boards” to perform before audiences in grand, historic venues such as the Globe in London or the Hippodrome in Birmingham.

But what about a different side of theatre?

The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s Applied Theatre course is all about teaching students about the many ways in which theatrical projects can contribute to areas like social change, community enrichment, and education. Working away from the public stage and with a variety of communities (including schools, prisons, and hospitals), students of Applied Theatre get to experience the “other side” of theatrical study — learning not just how theatre is made, but why.

When we produced a short promotional video for the course this year, one of the key creative questions that the project posed was how to communicate what is so exciting about the course, not just to prospective drama students, but also to those who may be interested in this specific area of study as opposed to a more traditional course in theatre.

Here’s how we approached it.


Student and staff testimonies

Focal to this promotional video are the interviews, not just with the Applied Theatre teaching staff, but also with the students themselves. Whatever industry you’re in, customer testimonials are an ideal way of promoting the value of what you have to offer. As Ryan Klein, writing for Forbes states:

“They can be more impactful than anything written by your company or any commercial you may have produced in the past. It shows your company’s capacity to benefit the lives of people just like your prospective clients. It is genuine, heartfelt, and evocative.”

So, while the interviews with the Applied Theatre academics explain what the course is all about; the testimonies from current students gave us the opportunity to tell the personal stories that can really resonate with prospective students — about what the students have gained from the course, the opportunities they’ve pursued, and how Applied Theatre aligns with their individual interests and goals.


Showing, as well as telling

One of the recurring points in the staff / student interviews is the active, practical, and hands-on nature of the Applied Theatre course. We were able to emphasise this message with dynamically edited footage highlighting the physicality of the students’ work, with the themes of social change and awareness bolstered further by the use of rousing, inspirational music.

Most notably, we had the opportunity to document a project taking place at the Safeside Centre in Birmingham — an experiential learning environment housing a “full-sized street scene” that can be used to interactively educate school pupils on a range of topics from road and fire safety to drugs, alcohol, and vandalism.

Getting shots capturing the students’ rehearsal and preparation processes, their work with the school pupils, and the unique Safeside performance space was a perfect way of illustrating what was being said in the interviews, and of visually communicating what is so singular and exciting about Applied Theatre Studies at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.


This project presented us with the compelling creative challenge of raising awareness of this highly distinctive and unique course, while giving us the opportunity to fulfil one of the key goals of good marketing — to be able to present audiences with something they may not have even known they were looking for.

If you’re interested in learning more about the services that we can provide, please check out some of our other case study blogs:

Author: James Cresswell

James Cresswell gravatar avitar
James is our copywriter and social media manager here at Ember Television. He joined us after studying an MA programme in Film and Television: Research and Production at the University of Birmingham.
Case study: Shining a spotlight on Applied Theatre at BCU



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