University of the Highlands and Islands :Highland theatre reveals plans to produce creative research project

The first student to graduate from a new master’s by research (MRes) in creative practice, launched by the University of the Highlands and Islands in 2019, is to have his work made into a stage production.

Jack MacGregor (24), who lives in Inverness, wrote an original script which is set in the abandoned Arctic settlement of Pyramiden while completing a new one-year degree course where students choose their own area of research.

A recent first class honours graduate of BA (Hons) drama and performance at Inverness College UHI, Jack spoke about his experience:

“This course has been a fantastic introduction to research practice in the arts. I was able to direct my studies and centre on my own goals and aspirations. Shaping this research project has allowed me to focus on growing my skills as an artist and to research the art that I am passionate about.

“Under the supervision of Dr Lesley Mickel, I was trusted with so much autonomy and responsibility for my own work, plus I was encouraged to get involved in the university’s postgraduate community which I found really exciting.

“Throughout my studies at the university, I have continued to make exceptional professional connections with artists and companies in the industry which has helped to secure paid gigs as a writer and a director. As well as qualifications, I now have the confidence and a specialised set of skills that employers are looking for, such as working to deadlines and communicating concepts with clarity.”

Matthew Zajac, Artistic Director at Dogstar Theatre Company and Jack’s creative mentor for the MRes, revealed:

“Jack has written an original and fascinating new play called ‘Nightlands’. I am very pleased to announce that we plan to produce the play in 2022. As the university celebrates its tenth birthday, it is fitting it reaches a new milestone with the award -with flying colours – of its first-ever creative practice master’s student.

“Jack is an exciting new playwright in a relatively new professional theatre culture being established in the Highlands and Islands. The university is producing a new generation of talented young theatre makers in the region. With its excellent development of its drama and production degree courses, it is enabling innovative, professional Highland theatre to become embedded in the region to join our great, long-standing oral and musical traditions.”

Dr Andrew Jennings, MRes programme leader at the university’s centre for island creativity based at Shetland College UHI, added:

“We are thrilled that Jack, our first graduate on the MRes for creative practice, is to have his work take centre stage for many to enjoy.

“Drawing on our university partnership’s experience and expertise in advancing digital technology to find answers to the challenge of geography, we have designed this programme to be accessible to graduates based in our islands, mainland Scotland, the UK and from international locations.

“We have tailored the programme for practitioners in the fields of drama, music and art to be able to undertake it in their own environment or personal work base, and it has been delivering as planned through the pandemic. It is ideal for recent and mature graduates who want to advance their practice through research driven academic enquiry.”

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