Student theatre company set to perform in New York

Two postgraduate students have their sights set on taking their theatre company to New York to perform as part of a theatre exchange.

Bloomin’ Buds was set up four years ago by Katie Mahon, then a student on the School of Performance and Cultural Industries’ BA Theatre and Performance. A year after the company began Katie was joined by Molly Rumford, who also studied on the course.  The pair are currently studying together on the School’s MA Applied Theatre and Intervention course.

Working within the community Bloomin’ Buds aims to boost and build young people’s confidence, aspirations and life skills. The company delivers drama-based support to young people struggling to access opportunities due to social and educational disadvantages. Its projects give young people from all backgrounds a chance to experience theatre through workshops, games and exhibitions in their local area.

Dr Alywyn Walsh, Course Leader for MA Applied Theatre and Intervention said: “Having Bloomin’ Buds as a live example has been a wonderful opportunity for classmates to learn about some of the work going on locally. Students on the MA come to realise that creativity and building opportunities in specific contexts can be a means to a career in socially engaged arts.” 

In the third year of her undergraduate degree Katie was given the opportunity to take a year out of her studies to complete a year in industry to develop the company. This opportunity allowed Katie to use her theatre skills working with local community and voluntary organisations, as part of her degree course.

'It really contributed to the success of Bloomin' Buds, being able to work on it for a whole year meant I could focus on what I really wanted to do." explained Katie.

In it's early stages the company was also supported by the University's purpose built theatre, stage@leeds, as part of their commitment to supporting new and emerging artists.

Following the success of their play ‘Brenda’s got Baby’, at the Edinburgh Fringe festival last year, Katie and Molly now have their sights set on performing in New York as part of a theatre exchange. Their plans to take the play to the Big Apple came after meeting a theatre company at the festival who are doing similar work to their play.

Katie said: "We can't believe it, it's an absolute dream come true and we would never have imagined that something like that would happen to us. We're really excited for it to happen and we can't wait to see what it will lead to."

The play is a verbatim piece based on interviews and focusing on two sisters – Brenda who is 16 and pregnant, and Amy who is the first in her family to go to university.  Their recent community tour saw them perform at stage@leeds and Bradford Playhouse.

During their time as undergraduate students Katie and Molly were awarded a prestigious SPARK award by the University to help fund their business. They have also recently been nominated by the SPARK team for the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards.

As well as their play Katie and Molly are supporting a local campaign in their home town of Bradford. The ‘Make It Your City’ campaign celebrates young people who are creating a bright future for the area. They were selected for their work giving back to the local community through performing arts. Watch their campaign video.

In future, Bloomin’ Buds hope to continue their community tours and focus on a new production supported by Arts Council Funding. Visit their website to find out details of their future shows.

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