Skip to main content
Alumni

Alumni profile - Lucy Dear

The variation in the course helped me to explore and identify my voice as an artist and what I care about which has been central to my practice as an applied theatre practitioner ever since. 

Published:
news image

Why did you choose to study Drama at Queen Mary?

It was between either Art or Drama in further education for me. I chose Drama at Queen Mary after a phone conversation with the lovely Ali Campbell, who told me about the course and was really welcoming. I was interested in learning about how drama could be used outside of traditional settings as a tool for social change. The course covered a wide range of areas and I was interested to learn about all the different ways that drama could be used in “real life.”

What was your favourite aspect of your course?

It was really varied. In one lecture I would be learning about drama projects in favelas in Rio and in the next I would be dressing myself up as a Christmas turkey and dousing myself in olive oil for a feminist piece of live art! It was great to be taught by such interesting academics at the forefront of their fields as well – all of whom were passionate about their practice - which was infectious.

What are some of your fondest memories from your time at Queen Mary?

One of my favourite memories would have to be seeing my classmate performing in a swimming pool as a dolphin for a module. Another would be performing a melodramatic text and trying to figure out how to create a fire effect with gobos alone. I also enjoyed the strange looks we got from medical students as we were staging Invisible Theatre pieces on campus.

What were your early experiences like after graduating from Queen Mary? Did you find interesting work straight away or was it more of a journey?

I wanted to travel when I graduated but not just for the sake of it – I wanted to use my degree straight away, so some fellow graduates and I took up the opportunity to teach Drama in Hong Kong for a year. It was brilliant as we could practice the workshop leading skills that we had learnt through our degree, as well as see the world.

Can you talk us through what you do now?

I am the Neighbourhood Theatre Producer for the Young Vic Theatre in the Taking Part (participation) department. I produce the theatre’s activity with over 25’s in the local community and work to engage a wide range of people from diverse local communities in theatre projects. Last year, that involved making three short films instead of three short plays during 2020 and learning very quickly (like the rest of the sector) about how to carry on working online and engaging hard to reach communities remotely during a global pandemic.

The aim of all my jobs is to ensure everyone has access to the arts; I therefore get to meet a really wide range of people and hear really interesting stories. Meeting people from all walks of life means that every stereotype and preconception you may have had of them is challenged - you realise that people have more in common than what sets them apart.

I also direct a group of adults with dementia with Southwark Playhouse as well as work on a freelance basis with The Unicorn Theatre and The Gate Theatre amongst others.

How did your time and study at Queen Mary help your career and development and how did you get to where you are now?

The variation in the course helped me to explore and identify my voice as an artist and what I care about which has been central to my practice as an applied theatre practitioner ever since.

My course made me aware of the wide range of routes available in the applied theatre field and was a great springboard for choosing the career direction I wanted to follow. When I got back from Hong Kong I worked as a temp for a while whilst I applied for job after job in the arts, then finally got a break with a project with The Old Vic as a freelance workshop leader, then never looked back! From there I worked my way up from workshop leading, to managing projects, to directing and producing projects.

As an applied theatre practitioner, theatre director and community producer, you have worked in a vast number of venues around the UK and internationally. Which project has been your favourite and why?

Good question – but a hard question. I love working internationally whenever I can. Introducing Chinese social workers and teachers to inclusive theatre was cool.

I really enjoy freelancing and the variety that it brings - from finding myself working on a performance with over 400 primary school children in the Royal Albert Hall with Amnesty International and Chickenshed Theatre, to supporting young people to develop their own social enterprise projects through The Agency programme, (started by Peoples Palace Projects and Marcus Faustini in Rio de Janeiro), to leading drama workshops for children isolating on wards at Great Ormond Street hospital – each project has brought a different challenge and taught me something new. I think the area where I have learnt the most and developed my area of specialism the most is through leading domestic violence prevention projects with young women through Tender and other organisations; developing my practice in this way has combined my interest in feminism with my passion for using theatre as a tool for social change. It is the perfect blend of personal and political.

Can you tell us about any projects you are currently working on?

I can! I am currently directing an Arts Council funded, one woman show called All in Your Head, which I will be performing to an online audience on February 14th, 2021. All in Your Head is a new online play about struggle for reason in psychologically abusive relationships. Sometimes verbatim, the play presents excerpts from real women’s stories, through one woman’s voice.

The piece aims to empower survivors by sharing real experiences, shining a light on the hidden and amplifying the unheard. The piece examines gender roles in contemporary society and how they manifest in our personal relationships. Before lockdown, statistics showed that “one in three women aged 16-59 will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime” (Office for National Statistics, 2019). Calls to domestic abuse helplines have more than doubled as a result of the pandemic and All in Your Head draws from the team’s personal experiences of abusive relationships and acts as a response to this insidious issue.

The script, written by Safaa Benson-Effiom and produced by Cheryl Ndione, was created through a devising and R&D (research and development) process and the online performance will be followed by a panel discussion with survivors and representatives from women’s organisations. A post-show pack will also be circulated which will signpost where people can access support. The creative team are being supported throughout the project by Lou Platt - Wellbeing Practitioner (I May Destroy You).

What do you love most about your job?

The aim of all my jobs is to ensure everyone has access to the arts; I therefore get to meet a really wide range of people and hear really interesting stories. Meeting people from all walks of life means that every stereotype and preconception you may have had of them is challenged - you realise that people have more in common than what sets them apart.

What would your advice be to students applying to study Drama at Queen Mary? How can they make the most of their experience?

Go to every lecture and give every opportunity a go. Approach every creative task you take on with curiosity - no matter how random – you never know where it will take you. Oh, and look after your wellbeing throughout - you can’t pour from an empty cup.

This profile was conducted by Alumni Engagement Coordinator, Nathalie Grey. If you would like to get in touch with Lucy or engage her in your work, please contact Nathalie at n.grey@qmul.ac.uk.