Val Phelps

As a playwright, actor and director, Val Phelps practises many different play genres and styles of theatre.

From dark fairy tales, docudramas, murder mysteries and short story performances, to the theatre of cruelty and the intriguingly titled “invisible theatre”, Val brings a varied professional background to her teaching at Hull School of Performance Arts (HSPA).

Val’s main research interest – and submitted PhD proposal – centres on text relating to styles of theatre; titled Writing and Performance Studies, she eventually plans to turn her findings into a textbook that will include three of her own scripts.

Val says:

“I am exploring ways in which we can put practitioners together to explore how methodologies and theories work, and give examples of how they can be used in recognised texts. I often see HE students struggle to understand how texts relate to theatre styles.”

Traditional theatre textbooks, says Val, tend to polarise methods, labelling plays as either Brechtian or Stanislavskian, for example.

“As long as you understand those two styles, there is nothing wrong with using them together. I am also exploring theatre practitioner Antonin Artaud’s  methods of the theatre of cruelty – the ways that making an audience feel uncomfortable can help them explore emotions and senses in a much more intense manner.”

As well as the PhD, which has been submitted as a proposal to Birmingham University, Val has a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing and Theatre Studies from Bolton, an MA in Creative Writing from Bretton Hall and a PGCE from Huddersfield.

She has penned 15 plays – including 2012’s darkly humorous horror, The Bates Motel, which was performed at Tickton Little Theatre in East Yorkshire – and has run her own professional touring company since 1995.

With Blue Angel Theatre Company, Val wrote, acted and directed courtroom dramas for Wakefield Town Hall, ran murder mystery events in hotels, as well as the aforementioned “invisible theatre”.

Other recent plays include The Writers’ Circle, also performed at Tickton Little Theatre, and Original Sin, an observational piece about the nature of humanity.

She has had plays commissioned by clients ranging from household names to The Leeds School of Medicine and belongs to the London Society of Writers, which meets quarterly for collaborative writing projects and networking opportunities.

Val has been teaching since 2001 and lecturing at HSPA since 2006. She has performed readings of her work, such as Red Riding Hood: The Truth, at Oxford Literature Festival. She attends creative writing workshops, most recently a three-day event at the Faber Academy in London with Hanif Kareishi and Marcel Theroux.

Andy Brady

Andy Brady, Hull School Of Performance Arts’ programme leader in Technical And Theatre Production, is a big believer in telling it like it is.

“People often think stage management is a glamorous career,” says Andy. “The reality is, you have To enjoy this job. You’re realising other people’s dreams. I’ve worked with shows and done 72 hours straight. The reality is, you’d better enjoy it, because you’ll be hanging off a scaffolding tower 20ft in the air, living off Red Bull and McDonalds at 4am.”

Stage managers and theatre technicians may be the unsung heroes of the stage but Hull-born Andy is equally down-to-earth when describing the benefits of his calling.

“I get to play with toys,” he says. “I could be out on a building site or working in a factory but I get to play creatively for a living.  What you’re doing in stage management is creating worlds and making imaginations come to life.”

He spent 3 years working in and around the West End as a freelance stage manager and technician after completing a BA (Hons) in Stage Management at London performing arts school, Rose Bruford College.

Andy’s clients included Jermyn Street Theatre – a “testing house” for the West End – the Tate Modern and his alma mater, Rose Bruford College.  He has worked on a variety of productions, including The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, The Bacchus, Bouncers and Madness of George III.  He also production managed a full season of shows at London College Of Theatre Studies.

Before the bug for the technical elements of the theatre bit him, Andy was an actor and dancer, studying performing arts. This phase of study saw him working and building contacts with Hull theatre companies such as Magic Carpet, Hull New Theatre, Hull Truck and Hull Youth Theatre, all of which stood him in good stead for a move back home to Hull.

He began teaching adult education at Preston Road New Deal For Communities, then joined Hull School Of Performance Arts in 2001.

Andy continues to build upon his contacts within the community, in his own practice and with the opportunities he provides for his students. He works with Hull Truck, offers design and technical support to City Arts, stage management for Hull’s thriving dance scene and lighting design for a local street dance company and New Voices, a York screenwriters’ festival.

Andy’s major research interest is in digital performance, which he hopes to develop on a Masters degree.

I’m investigating the links between digital arts and graphics,” he says. “I’m looking at the development and use of media servers and midi operating systems. It’s very big in technical theatre – you can’t see a show without huge projection walls and automatic lighting. Touchpad and iPad technology for lighting systems and sound networks is another area in which I’m doing a lot of research.”

View Andy’s LinkedIn profile HERE:

A presentation by Andy on Stage Management History can be seen HERE: