Taking matters into his own creative hands was Liam Gartland, 2020 BA Musical Theatre graduate, who was set to leave GSA slightly early due to gaining his first professional role in HMS Pinafore. Of course, that production along with all others was postponed. In June, Liam, undeterred, swiftly threw himself into a creative project that is directly countering some of the negative effects that COVID19 brings in its wake, not only to his own theatrical journey but to that of all his fellow performers Class of 2020.
The endeavour has proved a huge success and gathered interest and momentum. Seeing a gap in the market, Liam came up with the idea of a fringe festival that would solely feature theatre graduates saying "Graduates deserve the chance to connect, create and continue in this industry..."
Liam quickly found an accomplice in Alice Croft and they co-founded The Grad Fest. Alice, now Artistic Director of The Grad Fest is a 2020 graduate from the Musical Theatre course at Arts Ed.
Their mission is to “expose and encourage current theatre graduates to transition into our industry, straight from college, whilst giving them a platform to become their own product within this business.”
This platform connects graduates to industry professionals and offers industry Q&As and workshops, as well as putting 2020 graduates in the spotlight by providing a space in which to showcase their own original work. Of course, the festival had to be entirely online and soon included Instagram live cabarets, Instagram live classes, rehearsed readings via zoom and a Black Lives Matter Cabaret. They also began raising money for BLMUK and Industry Minds. There are clearly so many ideas still to come.
Q&A with The Grad Fest co-founder Liam Gartland
Did the project help you personally to focus on what could be done instead of what couldn't?
“It really gave me so much motivation and encouragement to have people around me who continued to support the festival and slowly but surely I managed to change the focus of a lot of people to look at what can be done and look at the resources we have right now. Although we had little to start with,we used what we could and developed something very special.
Do you have a vision of where the venture will progress to?
“We are in lots of talks at the moment of how we can further the grad fest and improve. We are now a limited company which is enabling us to do so much more and gather funds to create projects that will benefit every graduating year in the future. We are a company that specifically is there to support graduates from drama school and give them encouragement and a platform to keep creating.”
What does the solidarity with your peers mean to you?
“Having my peers not only from my graduating school but from every drama schools in the country has really encouraged me to keep going. Without co-founder and artistic Director Alice Croft (arts Ed) the project wouldn’t be what it is now and having someone by my side has really helped me even I’m the most stressful times. This has also proved that once graduating, no matter what school, we are a team and we want to encourage this and steer away from making it competitive but actually making it a supportive environment.”
THE GRAD FEST