A THEATRE graduate is determined the show will go on as he prepares for curtain up.

The theatre industry is among the worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic ­— with playhouses going dark.

But Philip Harland refused to give up on theatre dreams and is busy developing new skills for when theatres can open.

The 21-year- old from Bury has just embarked on a new MA in Applied and Community Arts degree at the University of Bolton, which has launched a number of new Master's programmes to help those working in the industry and new graduates develop skills for a wide range of roles in the arts sector.

Philip has his sights on possible career working on projects involving young people and theatre after the pandemic.

He graduated with a first-class Honours BA degree in theatre from the university in the summer.

He has been working with the Octagon Theatre in Bolton. Following his work placement, he began volunteering on a regular basis in the theatre’s creative engagement groups.

Philip, said: “The theatre industry is currently in a very difficult position but the pure passion of the individuals who work within the sector will help to ensure that it stands tall.

“It is a scary and hard situation, but my determination and passion for working in theatre keeps me going.

“There will always a place for the arts, so I believe that there will always be a job somewhere and even if that isn’t the case, I will try to create my own work once I have left university.”

Philip has been working on a self-employed freelance basis and is hopeful he will be able to continue to work with the Octagon when some semblance of normality returns.

“I would love to continue working with the Octagon again in the future once they have reopened," he said:

Philip said that learning during the covid-19 pandemic had been “different” but safe during the pandemic.

Victoria Brown, head of creative engagement at the Octagon Theatre, said: “We were so impressed with Phil’s professionalism and his ability to build a positive rapport with participants that we offered him paid freelance work as a support worker in some of our youth theatre groups.

“He also designed and made a set for our Bridges groups, which is a specialist provision for people with disabilities.

“During lockdown, the Octagon sponsored Phil to take part in the National Freelance Taskforce which consisted of over 100 freelancers in the theatre industry. It examined how venues and organisations can better support our freelance workforce."

David Thacker, Professor of Theatre at the University of Bolton, said: “Philip was an outstanding BA student, experienced many theatre disciplines and I was fortunate to work with him as his Professor of Theatre and in my capacity as a theatre director.

“I am confident that he will enjoy a successful career.”

To find out more or to apply for one of the Master’s degrees (MA via Creative Practice, MA Applied and Community Arts, MA Arts Management and MA for Creative Industries), visit: https://www.bolton.ac.uk/