10 years of On the Rocks: Events

OTR Head of Programing Benjamin Osugo shares the inside scoop on OTR's events: what to look out for, what to get excited for and some of the most memorable ones of festivals past.


With the return of On the Rocks from 6-15 April 2018, the committee, groups involved, and entire town will note its 10th anniversary. In anticipation for such a celebration, the committee continues to work on ensuring that it will be even bigger and better than ever. One way they can focus on accomplishing such an initiative is through their events applications, through which they can select creative, versatile, and extraordinary student endeavours.

Benjamin Osugo, Head of Programming for On the Rocks 2018 (OTR), shared the committee’s vision and expectations for event applicants. He said,

“What we want to do this year, is extend the notion of a traditional arts festival; we want to show the creativity present in all societies.”

He emphasized the all-inclusiveness of OTR, mentioning the artistry that could be found in science and cultural societies too. While regular events contributors include the Mermaids Performing Arts Fund, Inklight, and the Dance, Just So, and Comedy societies, they continue to receive and welcome a number of new contributors each year. Mr Osugo said, “Last year, we had a lot of newcomers, including people from the African Caribbean Society, who put on Black Spring, which is a play about the London riots. And it was wonderful to see what they could bring to the table.”

So, what sort of events showcase such creative ideas and performances that Mr Osugo and festival goers will crave and enjoy? “I’d say that a society should showcase what they are about, showing who they are and presenting something that enables them to bring their society to a new audience,” said Mr Osugo. By presenting an authentic representation of themselves in such a high-profile festival, societies can gain better recognition amongst the university and town, and perhaps attract more interested individuals to join them. Mr Osugo also mentioned the need for universality in these events. He said, “Events should also be something that anyone off the street would see in a program and say, ‘that looks like fun, I would go to that.’” Of course, there is something fun for everyone, and as Mr Osugo says, offering a range of performances and shows applicable to everyone’s interests is exactly what the festival hopes to accomplish.

In previous years, OTR has had the pleasure of hosting events with such unique and individual visions and styles. A notable event from last year was Found, presented by members of the Dance society, in which there were a series of choreography spontaneously performed around town, both indoors and out. Indeed, the location of an event can be crucial to its success and individualism. When asked if he had any advice for prospective OTR event applicants, Mr Osugo noted an attention to location. “Traditionally, there’s a lot of events in union spaces, and that’s great. But there are loads of places in St Andrews that people can put on events in, like Taste, the Balgove Larder, whatever,” he said. “Think outside the box!” he laughed.

Another important part of Mr Osugo’s role and event applications is the integration of town and student communities. He said,

“We are always looking to reach out to the community. I think it can be difficult, as often the interests of the town are different from that of the student body.”

Nonetheless, by showing everyone that they enjoy the same things and bridging this town and gown divide, they thereby attract other groups in Fife and Scotland to get involved too. Last year, they had the chance of showcasing companies from Glenrothes, including the Glenrothes Theatre group, as well as Cupar, and the general Fife area.

So why host an event with OTR? Mr Osugo remembers his first year, when he accidentally got involved in OTR as an actor in a play. He said, “I was in Dr Faustus in first year, and I didn’t realise what I was getting into, or how anything was. Then suddently, I was in a huge play with a really cool festival, and I saw the play description in the program and it just felt so special.” To be part of something on such a grand scale is something he will never forget, and cherish as a part of his university memories. Since then, he continues to remember the student excellence evident in all that OTR presents as part of their program. From last year’s, he remembers something as simple as a food stand, “On the closing day of the festival, there was a food stand outside the Union, which I stumbled upon. I was just going into the Union, but that’s just it: the essence of OTR is that you can go somewhere, anywhere, and run into an event that surprises you.”

The OTR committee hopes to hold a festival for everyone, presenting OTR as a hub with something artistic for everyone, whether they are attending, or hoping to showcase their creativity. For more details and any questions about event applications, Mr Osugo hosts office hours every week on Wednesdays, from 3-5pm in the Main Bar. Events applications are currently on the OTR website, and close on 19 November.


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