In response to the obvious impact that studying acting during lockdown had on our Acting & Performance students both in terms of their capacity to be playful and on their physical bodies we (Marion Scott - voice lecturer and Stephanie Arsoska - movement lecturer) devised a series of daily limber sessions as part of our training structure. It had become clear that after several months of students having to act in their bedrooms via their laptop screens that they had lost contact with much of their body and how to relate appropriately to a studio rehearsal space as well as the obvious impact on areas such as overall fitness and physical alignment. The daily warm-up sessions started as a way of tackling this issue in a very tangible manner, and after a year of this work we found that not only did these sessions serve as a way to develop the discipline of a personal daily practice in our students, but that they began to provide a space for so much more.

In 2017, I (Stephanie) wrote about the ways in which my ensemble practice had created a community of students who shared a practice, in other words the community had emerged from the training.  Throughout the year of daily warm-ups, it became clear that this could work the other way around: creating community could also become the landscape in which a training could emerge. 

The Acting & Performance degree, now in its third year, has always aimed for a holistic approach to its actor training. The staff team work closely with one another to integrate the four strands of the course - acting for stage, acting for screen, voice, and movement - so that students can embody the principles of each in comprehensive manner. This approach differs from many other acting degrees where the curriculum is maintained in separated strands with little opportunity for students to understand how each practice supports the other. In addition to this, our level of pastoral care is very high, and we take great pride in the level of support we offer students both within the rehearsal room and beyond.

The Daily Limber started off as the development of practice but became a space where connections between students and staff could be made. A combination of traditional movement and voice based work and daily walks (complete with our own drama dog, belonging to a member of staff) created a regular space for checking-in and connection. This was a shared time without an agenda, where we could walk and talk, notice which students might need support, build bonds within the group and create a culture of support and care. In turn this has enabled the building of bonds beyond campus as students regularly meet the same people on their travels, for example the students look forward to seeing a local elderly man who always says hello while he is out walking his dog, Jasper. The walks connect the actors and staff to one and other as well as to the broader local community in which the university sits.

This community of care has been further developed through our regular tutorials, shared lunches, research trips and opportunities for external project participation such as the 24-Hour Film Festival. Each student keeps a journal as part of their practice, developing their critical reflection skills. Recorded podcasts between students allows them to build upon these reflections in more detail. In third and fourth year students have opportunities to create personal research projects on their practice and to share the results with each other and they will often facilitate each other in workshops and warm-up sessions.

Over time this emerging community of care has become the grounds in which the training can take place. The Daily Limber still serves as a place for professional personal practice but it has also provided a clear framework for the ethic of the actor training we offer at QMU. Arguably it is this framework that has allowed us to sustain a 100% attendance rate for the last five months, something that is unusual in higher education, particularly post-covid. One way to describe this work is to say that we are working with an ensemble ethic that centres “care taking” care for the students welfare, care for the shared and individual creative practice; and most of all care for the connections we have with each other, the community and the work that we do.

Related Blog Posts

Transport themed pattern
QMU Annual Travel Survey

Every year the university conducts a travel survey, collecting commuting habits of staff and stud... read more

A group of young people engaged in dialogue in a classroom setting.
Critical dialogue - developing confidence in young people

Critical dialogue is helping young Scots and Malawians develop confidence and gain empowerment.... read more

A small group of people talking, facing away from the camera, on a sunny day outside
Making for good

Making for good We are Amy Millar and Amy McCue - more commonly known on our course as “The Amy’s... read more

A small group of people talking, facing away from the camera, on a sunny day outside
A dyslexic student's advice for making a successful time of studies at QMU

“How to make the most of your studies?” is a question that is often asked. What are the best tech... read more

3 girls in winter jackets outside the Queen Margaret University Campus, Edinburgh
Top tips for open day

Prepare before you get to the University. Consider attending an open day event to find out what i... read more

A group of students playing jenga.
Top tips for halls

Moving away from home can be daunting whether you are undergraduate or a postgraduate. At Queen M... read more

Students queuing up to order at Maggie's Bar, the QMU student union bar and cafe
Freshers blog

My first day at QMU was a scary one, as I’m sure it was for everyone. Having only just moved from... read more

A busy street
Life as a mature student: why go to university?

For me higher education is about working towards achieving your potential to catapult you into th... read more

Students talking on the benches outside Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
Queen Margaret university fresher’s week: 10 tips for student life

Top 10 Tips for student life read more

A small group of people talking, facing away from the camera, on a sunny day outside
University as a mature student

From where I started my academic journey, like many things in life, I have arrived at a very diff... read more