Three award-winning artists working in film, theatre and television will take to the stage in London to talk about how they have navigated their careers since they graduated from the University of Exeter.

Playwright and screenwriter Alice Birch, filmmaker and director Jessica Swale, and actor Marc Wootton have all agreed to speak at a first-ever Arts and Media Showcase at RSA House this month.

The trio will sit down to conversations with Professor of Film, Linda Ruth Williams, and film critic and broadcaster Mark Kermode, who also holds a position of Honorary Professor of Film at Exeter.

The event is being organised by the Department of Communications, Drama and Film, along with the Global Advancement team, and is being compered by BBC television presenter Rob Walker, who is also an alumnus of the University (English and Drama 1997).

“We are genuinely excited to be able to bring together such incredibly high profile alumni and create this opportunity to hear about their career and life journey since their graduation,” says Professor Jane Milling, Head of the Department. “Their combined achievements are testament to the way they have applied their creative gifts and talents, and it is in exploring that application that we hope to gain insight into both the creative industries today, and perhaps how to succeed within them.”

During the event – which will be held at RSA House on Thursday 21 March – the three guests will share how they developed their careers after graduating; the pros and cons of working in the British and international performance and screen industries; how they have sustained their creative careers; and the support and mentoring they have encountered along the way.

Alice Birch graduated from her English degree in 2009 and has become an award-winning writer, perhaps best known for writing the screenplay for Lady MacBeth (2016), for which she won a 2017 British Independent Film Award for best screenplay and was shortlisted for a BAFTA. She has also written adaptations of the novels, Mothering Sunday and The End We Start From, and written for a number of critically acclaimed television series, including Dead Ringers, Normal People and Succession.

Jessica Swale secured a Drama degree in 2004, and is now an award-winning writer, director and filmmaker. Her first play, Blue Stockings, is one of the most frequently performed in the UK, while her second, Nell Gwynn, won her an Olivier for Best New Comedy. Jessica’s debut feature film was Summerland in 2020, and she is currently working on Paddington: The Musical with Tom Fletcher from McFly.

The third guest is Marc Wootton, a fellow Drama graduate (1996), and an actor and comedian known as the creator of the beloved Mr Poppy character from the Nativity! film franchise. Marc has also starred in television series including My New Best Friend, High Spirits with Shirley Ghostman, La La Land and High & Dry.

The event will conclude with a networking session for the invited alumni, students, offer-holders and other guests.

“We hope this Showcase can truly bring together our alumni so that they might start new conversations with one another,” adds Professor Milling. “Building networks is so important in the creative industries, and if we can draw upon our esteemed community of Exeter graduates to assist in that endeavour, then all the better.”