Reporter 401, 6 May 1997


Dramatic success for students

Leeds University scooped the board at the National Student Drama Festival (NSDF) at Scarborough. Three productions by the Student Theatre Group (Churchill's Fen, Berkov's Decadence and a new play: A Short Play about Sex and Death) represented the University and two others from Bretton Hall College (Pinter's The Caretaker and Cartwright's Two) added to Leeds' contribution at the Festival.

Fen, with its cast of Workshop Theatre and English students, won its director, Will Wollen, a high commendation for a strong, emotional production. Kayla Fell and Nathan Rimmel won an ensemble acting award for their accomplished performances in Decadence and John Gitsham won an acting award for his work in Sex and Death.

John Donnelly, writer and director of A Short Play about Sex and Death won the Festival's coveted playwright's award as well as the new director/playwright award given by the Personal Manager's Association. As a result he will be offered an attachment as a writer to a professional theatre company. Alomo TV have also expressed an interest in his work.

Donnelly's next play will be performed by Conspiracy Theatre later this year at the Metropolitan University's Studio. The NSDF has chosen to take Sex and Death to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer as representative of the best of the country's student drama.

At present John is still looking for funding for these projects, but he is pleased that this recognition has opened up opportunities to pursue and develop his writing talents.

Details of the Workshop Theatre's productions are at www.leeds.ac.uk/theatre/

Painting commemorates old colleagues

Guardian journalist Martin Kettle presented a painting purchased by friends and colleagues of his parents, Arnold and Margot Kettle to the University on March 22. The painting, Raiders Overhead by Emmanuel Levy, was purchased by a group wishing to commemorate the late Margot Kettle, who established the African Studies Library, and her husband Arnold Kettle, a Senior Lecturer in the English Department who died in 1987. The Kettles were active in the campaign to establish the Leeds Playhouse. The painting, chosen for its emphasis on 'the presence of man', now hangs in the Brotherton Library.

The latest word in grammar analysis

Parsing sentences may have been a daunting task at school, but now it can all be done by computers. An experimental prototype developed at the University provides a free service which analyses text and splits it into its various grammatical parts.

Developed in the Leeds Centre for Computer Analysis of Language and Speech in the School of Computer Studies, the programme can receive text by email and then break down sentences to their component parts. There are several different theories of English grammar, and users of the service can choose which to apply.

A 'part-of-speech' tag is attached to each word, taking its context into account. In the sentence 'the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog', the programme will attach the tag common singular noun to 'fox' and adjective to 'lazy'.

Since January the service has had over 500 users, including publishers of English language teaching dictionaries and researchers investigating its uses in speech recognition. The tagging service was developed in an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council project and providing it over the internet allows a large audience to be reached. "Our service is different because it is available by email and offers a choice from eight standard part-of-speech tag categories," says Centre Director Eric Atwell.

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News in brief

Preparing for change

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Wilson, is taking a period of semi-study leave for the summer term in order to undertake research and development on behalf of the University, and prepare us for the major changes of the post-Dearing era.

He will be exploring options for the future academic development of the University, researching financial developments to support these academic objectives and considering management issues relating to the restructuring of the University. The Vice-Chancellor will also be working on the opportunities presented by the Western Campus development (the former Leeds Grammar School site) where Leeds University Business School is to be based.

Throughout this period, Professor Wilson will be maintaining close and regular contact with senior University personnel and will be attending a number of formal meetings and engagements, including meetings of Senate, Council and Court.

Harrogate is top town for Volvos

Research showing the car you drive is influenced by where you live has been carried out by the University company GMAP. Based on an analysis of the DVLA database of 28.6m vehicles, GMAP's research reveals Essex as having one of the highest concentrations of Ford XR2s and XR3s and Golf GTIs. Harrogate has more than three times the national average of Volvo drivers and people in Watford are particularly keen on the Ford Mondeo. The most popular car among men is the Ford Escort, while women prefer the Ford Fiesta.

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International induction

David Lee, Assistant Dean of the School of Healthcare Studies, was inducted as an international member of the Delta Alpha Chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau Honour Society for Nursing at the International Conference of Research Based Nursing Practice in Finland.

The Society seeks to recognise superior achievement and leadership, foster high professional standards, encourage creativity and strengthen commitment to the ideals and purposes of nursing, and has a total of nine members at the School.

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