Brian Cox backs university theatre arts programme

The Hollywood star is currently rector of Dundee University (Picture by gdcgraphics)

HOLLYWOOD star Brian Cox has lent his backing to a new creative partnership between the University of Dundee and Dundee Rep Theatre.

The University, where Mr Cox is rector, is now offering a degree programme in Theatre Studies.

The partnership builds on the positive relationship which has existed between the two neighbouring institutions for decades, the aim being to foster a culture of creativity and stimulate dynamic engagements across a number of areas of activity.

“This is a major event for both the university and the Rep, the organic coming together of two major institutions,” said Mr Cox.

“It is both brave and original in its vision. The concept of a `creative campus’ establishes a vital link between a working theatre and the university community and opens up the possibilities of a new and vital way of creating a syllabus of practical , aesthetic and academic theatre courses wrapped in the principal of excellence. It also supports the whole idea of the craft of ‘theatre in the community’.

“In an ideal world it would be exciting to see this idea catch fire between other established universities and theatres throughout Scotland and beyond”.

The new Masters Degree in Theatre Studies combines expertise from the School of Humanities and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design at the University, with professional input from Dundee Rep Theatre.


“We are delighted to enter into what is a new phase of our relationship with Dundee Rep,” said Professor Christopher Whatley, Vice-Principal of the University and Head of theCollegeofArtsand Social Sciences.

“The Theatre Studies Masters programme we are launching today is unique in Scotland. This uniqueness is the combination of the academic excellence of the University in creative writing and the theory and history of drama, and the practical experience of directing and marketing staff as well as actors from the internationally-acclaimed Dundee Rep. No other higher educational provider in Scotland can claim to have a full-time theatre company literally on its doorstep.

“This is a project guided by strong principles, that the arts sit at the heart of civil society and that individuals benefit and communities are strengthened by the exchange of ideas and practices. The partnership of the University and the Rep creates an environment in which students, writers, directors and other theatre professionals can learn from each other and share expertise and experience. We anticipate that this fusion of talents will lead to higher levels of academic and artistic achievement.

“The partnership represents another building block in the transformation of Dundee into a Scottish beacon of cultural excellence and what Gavin Wallace of Creative Scotland has called ‘one of the nation’s blazing and radiant literary hotspots’.  The heat generated by our new Masters programme will draw students not only fromScotlandand the UK but from overseas.”

The MLitt in Theatre Studies provides opportunities to study Theatre Design, Writing for the stage and screen, Directing, Theatre criticism and a range of other modules in what is a highly distinctive programme.

Also innovative is the combination of theoretical study with highly practical engagement within a live theatre environment. This will enable students through internships and access to the Rep staff and its facilities to realise in practice and performance the fruits of academic study.

James Brining, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Dundee Rep said, “Our practice as a theatre is rooted in having two permanent, resident companies, Dundee Rep Ensemble and Scottish Dance Theatre.  We are constantly seeking to develop the artists who are at the heart of our work as well as looking for new ways to enable people outside the organisation to experience rich creative learning experiences.  The MLitt is a logical development of our interest in applied creative learning and we look forward to expanding this in future years.”

Further down the line it is hoped that the Bonar Hall, currently part of the University’s estate, will become a shared learning and performance space with a particular emphasis on innovation and practice of the creative and performing arts of theatre and dance. This will stimulate a clustering of shared practice by students, arts practitioners and the wider community ofDundee, Tayside – and beyond.

The activities envisaged for the Bonar Hall encompass a range of educational levels from teachers in primary education through to Continuing Professional Development for artists and others in the creative industries.  What is planned is indicative of the Rep’s longstanding commitment to the development and dissemination of drama-related skills and learning on both a regional and national basis.

The project will also seek to strengthen connections between the arts and all the educational institutions in the city.