Q & A with Sean Crowley, Head of Production and Design

Sean Crowley

What are you looking for in your students?

Design for Performance at RWCMD encompasses design for all performance forms. There is so much variety, which makes it a fascinating profession and one which I am fortunate enough to have been involved in for over 25 years. I guess we look for students with a natural flair for design and a desire to work collaboratively to create performance. We also need students who are able to cope with the high demands that the course will put on them. The course is incredibly intense and over the three years our students will cover a huge range of classes, projects and productions, and be introduced to areas of performance design which they may have never considered before. We need students with imagination, curiosity and dedication, who are able to respond to the challenges of the training. In so doing, they will receive what I consider to be one of the best experiences available in the country.

How many places are available on the course?

We look to recruit 18 students each year. Competition for these places is extremely intense but if you make it onto the course you will be rewarded with fantastic, vocationally based training. The small class size enables us to manage each student relationship and ensure that each student matures into the professional they want to be. Students will quickly find themselves working closely with the staff and fellow students at RWCMD to produce work of a professional standard. The experienced teaching staff will help to identify specific areas of interest and areas for improvement, and to develop career focussed opportunities over the duration of the course.

What makes this course different from others like it?

Personally I think the unique environment here at the RWCMD is one of our strongest attributes. We are a small, efficient conservatoire offering superb education in a number of different but complimentary subjects. My colleagues in Stage Management, Acting and Music all work with some of the most promising students in their particular fields. As a department, I'm pleased to say that we work closely with the other courses, and by working together we have produced some fantastic performances. I think it's fair to say that RWCMD has successfully built a reputation for producing both traditional and dynamic, alternative performances.

The College enjoys an excellent reputation for student retention, student satisfaction and student employment. Our graduates continue to impress the industry and a quick look at how our alumni are progressing makes me feel confident in the training and preparation we are giving our students.

The course at RWCMD would appeal to me for the level of support that is available to students, both from the tutors from fellow students. There is a real sense of community amongst the students, academic staff, and our alumni.

I think Cardiff itself also has so much to offer students. The College is set in beautiful parkland in the heart of the city centre. There seems to be a real buzz around the city at the moment with the likes of Doctor Who, BBC Drama Village in Cardiff Bay which is home to Causualty and Sherlock, the Dragon International Film Studio, Pinewood Studio and venues like the Wales Millennium Centre (WMC).

Ultimately though, people choose us because of the course. In my opinion, we are able to offer such an exciting, demanding and completely vocational training in performance design that studying at RWCMD would definitely be my first choice.

What kind of performance based opportunities are there?

Every year RWCMD produces 15 productions held at the College's venues and at other venues including the Wales Millennium Centre (WMC), the Sherman Theatre (Cardiff), Chapter (Cardiff) and the Royal Court in London. There are opportunities to design for theatre, opera, musical theatre, dance and site specific performance.

What other sorts of opportunities are available to students?

In spring of 2011 the College was host to the Society of British Theatre Designers National Exhibition of Design for Performance. The College's facilities housed the work of over two hundred UK based designers. In September 2013 the College hosted World Stage Design. During the ten day event Design students worked side-by-side with leading practitioners who are exhibiting their work.

Personally, I have also had the great privilege working as project leader and exhibition curator for the Prague Quadrennial Scenofest. Scenofest is a celebration of all areas of performance design, set, costume, puppetry, lighting, sound, technical theatre and theatre architecture involving many of the world's major design schools, leading educators and designers. Scenofest 2007 attracted more than 3,000 active participants and over 20,000 visitors over its ten day duration. RWCMD students were able to work in a variety of production roles as part of their course and in so doing gained incredible practical experience.

What opportunities are there for students after graduation?

The Design for Performance course at RWCMD produces students who consistently find employment in Cardiff, Wales, London and beyond. Our Graduate Exhibition in London is acknowledged by the profession as a significant recruitment opportunity. Our course provides training of internationally recognised excellence. If you have the talent and desire to make it in Design for Performance, then all I would say is come and have a look at what we have to offer here at RWCMD.