Ambitious new arts festival announced by students

Tuesday 27 January 2009

An ambitious new arts festival for Scottish university students is to be launched in St Andrews this year.

`On the Rocks’ – a national showcase of the best in comedy, poetry, literature, dance and music – will run annually for one week in April (Sunday 19th to Sunday 26th) in and around St Andrews.  Run entirely by St Andrews’ students on a limited budget, the organisers hope that it will eventually become one of the highlights of the Scottish arts calendar.

Hosting seventy performances across twelve venues in the University and town’s historic surroundings, the unique event will kick off with a Victorian seaside fair on the University’s mediaeval quadrangle, and culminate with an open-air ceilidh.

From Alan Bennett to William Shakespeare, a range of plays will be performed by students, some of them for the first time, while literary experts and theatre professionals will provide an educational programme of events including workshops in writing and dance.

A full scale outdoor performance of former University rector J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan will provide the dramatic centerpiece to the week-long event.  The exciting production, involving a large cast of students and young people from local schools and youth groups, will take place in the grounds of St Andrews Castle, providing one of the most dramatic backdrops for any piece of community theatre ever held in Scotland.

One of the highlights of the inaugural festival is the first staging of an amateur production of the award-winning Jerry Springer: The Opera.  The infamous play will be performed by the Just So Musical Theatre Society for three nights, 19 – 21 April.  Later in the week, students will host a debate on Art, Culture & Jerry Springer.

Organiser Philippa Dunn, said, “We are delighted to bring this exclusive showing to St Andrews – we hope that this performance will push the boundaries of theatrical entertainment in St Andrews.

“This is the first time that students from around Scotland will be brought together in this way – we will feature projects from students at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Caledonian, Aberdeen, Napier and Robert Gordon, as well as St Andrews.  It’s the first forum of its kind for creative and talented students to share experiences, ideas and resources.”

Other events include the performance of Much Ado About Nothing in St Mary’s Quadrangle and an evening with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

The festival will also premiere the very best of student film at the local cinema and a performance by student and staff group St Andrews Playclub.  Even the more traditional `black art’ of magic will make a mysterious appearance, with a workshop hosted by a former student of the University.

Normally reserved for more formal University events, St Salvator’s Quadrangle will find itself at the heart of a Battle of the Bands competition.  Meanwhile, music-making collective, Dry Island Buffalo Jump, which consists of members of academic staff from the Faculty of Arts, will play to their largest `home’ audience during the festival.

Home to Scotland’s annual poetry festival, StAnza (which will be held the previous month, 18-22 March), the town will also see young poets take part in a poetry slam, as well as more traditional recitals.

Philippa, Director of Student Development and Activities for the Students’ Association, continued, “On the Rocks will provide a unique, innovative and exciting platform for new and established Scottish talent in the creative and performance arts.  We hope to create a festival to develop and inspire both artists, performers and audiences alike, and establish a new appreciation for all forms of art in Scotland.

“We are really excited by the unique partnership we have created with local theatres – among the best in the country – and industry professionals.  Anyone interested in working in the arts will be given the chance to be at the heart of the creation of a new and exciting piece of theatre, providing them with exciting career development opportunities.  There are also plans to work closely with groups such as Families First, which provides disadvantaged children the chance to use their creative skills in a safe environment.

For full listings visit: or contact Philippa Dunn on [email protected]  


Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Gayle Cook, Senior Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email [email protected]

Ref:  On the rocks 280109
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Category Student experience

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