Carla van der Sluijs, Theatre editor, interviews Matthew Lansdell who is running for SSC Performing Arts Officer (Mermaids).
NB: This article is simply an interview with the candidate and it does not reflect the view’s of The Tribe Magazine or act as an endorsement of the candidate.
The role of Mermaids President is no walk in the park, but Matthew Lansdell is up for the job and asking for your votes! Matthew has a long history of involvement with performing arts and is currently Production Treasurer on the Mermaids Committee. I sat down with him to discuss his manifesto and why he considers himself the man with a plan for the society.
How did your involvement in Mermaids begin?
It basically took off from my second day in St. Andrews! I went along to the very first-give-it-a-go day for acting, and realized how much other stuff Mermaids does outside of that. From there, I got involved in many different aspects of production, including producing which I tried for the first time here.
You’ve done a range of roles in Mermaids, which contributed the most to your decision to run for President?
Being Production Treasurer on the Mermaids Committee really inspired me to run. It taught me all the ins and outs of what the committee does and I learnt how much good is carried out behind the scenes. Seeing all the benefits that Mermaids brings to St Andrews made me really want to lead the society.
Your manifesto outlines plans to encourage affiliation with other performing arts societies. Why do you think this needs addressing?
This past year there has unfortunately been some miscommunication between the different performing arts societies. There’s loads of groups here and we’re not using this to its full potential. I’d love some collaboration to further performing arts in St. Andrews, and therefore I would like to arrange a performing arts showcase involving all the different societies at the start of the year. This would create tangible representation for everyone and show the student community what we can do.
You also mentioned that you want to increase opportunities in Mermaids, what more would you like to see done?
My plan to have monologue evenings comes from personal experience as I don’t think there are enough opportunities for people to showcase their individual skills. Everyone has a favourite monologue and this kind of event would give people a chance to show off their own stuff. It could also be great practice for auditions. Professional workshops are another thing I’d like to expand on. We’ve been so fortunate with these this semester and we recently hosted a casting director for a talk about auditions. The workshops could be expanded to include more technical aspects of theatre, particularly set building and design. This could really help us take advantage of the existing talent in St Andrews.
You discussed wanting to use the Mermaids’ 100th Anniversary to build alumni relations. What kind of things did you have in mind?
We’re already working hard on the Anniversary Event. It has been so inspiring to have Annabelle (current Mermaids president) looking at where past thespians are now and learning how Mermaids inspired them to go further into theatre. It would be great to stay in contact with these people so students who want to turn theatre into a career have someone to turn to. I think that keeping connections like that alive is really vital.
Communication is another key aspect of your manifesto. Where do you think Mermaids could do better?
It comes down to the fact that I didn’t know what the committee did until I was on it. This is why I am proposing an open forum. We already have our weekly open meetings, but they can be quite intimidating if you’re very new to the society. I’d like to arrange something where anyone can raise questions and the committee can give updates on what they are doing. This would put everyone on the same page and make it possible for people to raise issues they are concerned about.
Finally, what do you think makes you the best suited candidate for the role?
I am really passionate about performing arts. I’ve dedicated so much of my time to it and, in doing so, I’ve spotted areas where I and others would like to see improvement. I hope to bring new ideas to the table and lead Mermaids forward so our next hundred years can be as strong as our last.
To read Matthew’s manifesto and find out more, take a look at his campaign page: https://www.facebook.com/Matthew4MerPres.
Every vote counts. Don’t forget to cast yours on 2nd/3rd of March!
Carla van der Sluijs