Opportunity knocks for talented students

Joshua James Vening.
Joshua James Vening.

The pick of new talent from the north west travelled south to take centre stage in a London theatre recently.

For the first time, the University of Cumbria sent more than 25 of their students the length of the country to showcase their skills in the capital.

They performed in front of an invited audience of agents, directors, producers and casting agents from the West End and leading film and television companies.

Each of the students had earned one of the coveted places by winning through earlier auditions.

University lecturer Richard Milburn said: “It has become increasingly important to focus our degree courses on employment skills and giving our students the best opportunity to launch themselves into the industry.

“We want to challenge the view that only students from prestigious drama schools like the Royal Academies get the chance to secure agency representation.

“While it is possible to find work as a performer without an agent, having professional representation to put you forward for jobs and support you in the early stages of your career is invaluable.

“We have very talented students at the University of Cumbria and we wanted to offer them this opportunity.

“Although the media industry in general has become less London-centric, especially with the BBC’s move north to Salford, there is no doubt that we needed to make the 350 mile journey to show off their talents.

“Agents do most of their work in and around the West End, so they came to our showcase in their lunchtime!”

So far, as a direct result of the London showcase, five of the students have been signed by national agents.

Joshua James Vening, 21, was signed by EOC Management.

He said: “The showcase in the heart of the West End was the ideal location for us to show off our skills and the talents that we have developed over the last three years during our degree studies.

“To perform in front of such an influential audience and then be signed is amazing.

“I’m looking forward to working with my agent and building a successful partnership – my hope is to have a long and varied career within the performing arts industry.”

Una Evans-O’Connell from EOC Management said: “I am delighted that Joshua has signed to EOC Management as I believe he has the necessary skills to have a very successful career.

“I was not familiar with the students’ work in the past so am pleased that the university showcased their talents in London.

“ I feel it is very important that students are seen by industry professionals.”

Following the success of this inaugural showcase, the university has already pencilled in the date for next year’s West End appearance, when more of their students will get their chance of hitting the big time.