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Meet our graduates: Brandon Shalansky

Originally from British Columbia, Brandon completed our MSc in Playwriting and now works between the UK and Canada where he’s under commission with the Fred Skeleton Theatre Company.

Brandon Shalansky studied Creative Writing and Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, and worked in the theatre industry, before moving to Edinburgh in 2016 to complete an MSc.

Photo of Brandon Shalansky
Brandon Shalansky

The opportunity to study under playwright Nicola McCartney was a big draw - “I was very fond of her play ‘Heritage’, and was thrilled at the opportunity to work with her” - as was the chance to have a public, professional reading of his work-in-progress at the Traverse Theatre as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe, an annual highlight of our playwriting programme.

It was a move that sparked a willingness to work between two different countries: “Edinburgh is my favourite city in the world. Living in someplace so beautiful and stimulating is such a blessing. Also, I loved how easy it was to get around, and how close everything was (compared to Canada).”

“Coming back to the theatre community over here with my Masters has provided tons of opportunities. Knowing that I studied in Scotland (with the opportunity to work with Playwrights’ Studio and the Traverse during the festival), people were very excited to work on new projects with me.”

Headache, heartache and fun

In addition to acting, directing and teaching with various companies and schools, Brandon now works as a playwright. Fred Skeleton Theatre Company is debuting ‘Adrift’ in British Columbia in July this year and, in the UK, ‘Risotto’ is running as part of the Science Fiction Festival in May 2018.

Reflecting on his biggest achievements in the past year, he cites “putting the pieces of my (perhaps too) ambitious dissertation play together, and getting through each draft. I was very humbled to come out with a distinction.”

“When you get past all the work, and headache, and heartache [of being a playwright], it really is fun. I love doing what I do.”

“Also, maybe the ability to apply what I’ve learned to other disciplines too? I’m finding more and more adrenaline applying what I know about Playwriting to other non-theatre projects and collaborations, like acting, podcasts, maybe even a graphic novel.”

Reading, seeing and being involved

Peer-learning and support is an important part of our MSc in Playwriting programme, which also draws on the expertise of an impressive range of guest speakers and workshop facilitators.

“From my experience as a student, and now as a teacher” Brandon says, “the best way to learn the craft is to be exposed to as many different plays as you can. I learned the most just sitting and talking about plays with my teacher and fellow students. I loved the wide selection of plays we read and analysed.”

“My advice to others would be: Read as much as you can. See as much theatre as you can. Be involved in as many areas of theatre as you can at least once.”

“Speaking to Nicola’s teaching: she has an uncanny ability to pull the best out of you. I wish I was still under her guidance, I’m sure I’d get a lot more good stuff done.”

Are you interested in studying for an MSc in Playwriting?

Our unique and practical masters programme is taught over one year (full-time) or two years (part-time) through a dynamic combination of seminars, workshops, one-to-one supervision and professional masterclasses.

Find out more about our MSc in Playwriting

Related links

Read our 2017 interview with Brandon and classmates as they prepared for their Traverse reading

Read about other Playwriting graduates' experiences of the programme