What's it like to study... Theatre Studies

 

I can remember clearly my drama teacher, Mr. Jewkes, chatting to me during my high school studies in Year 9 and telling me “you should really do this at GCSE Jamie”. Through my time at school I rode the wave a little too much, leaving revision too late and never totally applying myself as much as I could.

When it came to deciding on whether to go to university, I gave serious (although brief) thought to staying in my Saturday job at a department store and avoiding the terror of student debt. Five years later, I am incredibly glad I picked Staffordshire University...and I’ve learned the debt isn’t as bad as I thought.

Originally I chose Drama, Performance and Theatre Arts because performing was something that I loved doing. My plan at that time was to go on to a PGCE and head into teaching; following in the footsteps of my mum, dad, brother and several other family members. Why Staffs? Well, on other open days at larger or older universities, I found the atmosphere wasn’t very welcoming, the people could seem stereotypical in what you’d expect from those who worked in the theatre industry and, to be honest, some of the facilities left a lot to be desired.

Arriving in Stoke however (a great city, no matter what preconceptions people hold), I was given a tour of four excellent studio spaces by Derrick and Paul, two people who would later become my lecturers. I felt that I would be challenged and looked after here and even bumped into my tour guides around campus later that afternoon, where they sat with me and my mum for half an hour or so to chat and tell us a little more about the course over a coffee. I’d made my choice.

The course was perfect for me, providing a balance between learning of the reality of working in theatre and academic progression. Other courses I’d seen seemed to only offer solely practical or theoretical approaches but at Staffs I experienced acting, devising, performance art, playwriting, lighting, marketing, audio visual techniques and (unfortunately for my friends) even had a bash at singing. Every one of these modules was delivered alongside essays, presentations and other assessments that weren’t just an add-on to our practical work, but stretched me academically. The background and experience of my teaching staff made this possible. Reading their CV’s and then working with them I realised the team weren’t people who just knew lots about theatre; these people were working in the industry right now.

I also attended two trips to New York organised through the course; experiences that I will never forget. As well as a little time to do “the tourist thing” in an amazing city, we saw theatre on and off Broadway, visited the New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, attended a bizarre and exhilarating performance piece that I can only describe as a live art rave and had a go at improvised comedy with working actors.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all rose-tinted and an easy ride. The work was often difficult and days could be long and working in groups presented its own challenges as I had to work with those who shared different working methods, attitudes and approaches to attendance. This, however, is something I’ve now learned to be a real part of life. You’re never going to work in an environment where everyone gets on all the time and I’ve developed as a person thanks to these experiences.

As I progressed, I began to think about what I wanted to do when I finished my degree. I loved theatre, I loved acting; did I really want to teach? Studying had put me in the right frame of mind to go for it and make acting what I did, particularly because of one of my final year modules. Here, we were given the opportunity to form a small scale theatre company and produce and perform a play designed to be toured around studio or fringe venues. Taking control of every element of creating a piece of theatre in this controlled environment made me realise that acting professionally was perfectly achievable. I think I’d made my choice again.

Prior to graduating however, I had gotten involved in the students’ union and ran in the leadership race. I have spent the past two years as a sabbatical officer at Staffs union which proved to be an experience which helped me to mature further, develop those skills that would come in very handy for working in a small theatre company and hopefully do some good things for my fellow students and that organisation. If there’s one thing I can recommend during anyone’s time at university, it would be getting involved with your students’ union.

So after five years of fun, friends, learning and changing at University I have set up a theatre company with a fellow Staffs graduates. This year we toured a one man show around the region, including a performance in Lichfield, my home town. Mr. Jewkes (or as I now know him, Les) came to see me act as a professional in a real theatre and even gave me a hug afterwards. Funny to think I probably wouldn’t have been there if he hadn’t pulled me to one side in Year 9.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + + uncapped commission + benefits: SThree: Did you ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + benefits + uncapped commission: SThree: Did you kn...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Junior Web Developer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions