“First of all, I choose the great roles, and if none of these comes, I choose the mediocre ones, and if they don’t come, I choose the ones that pay the rent.” – Michael Caine
There are a lot of common misconceptions about what it’s like to be a drama student. People think all we do is play games and then prance around on stage wearing lavish costumes and singing happy-go-lucky songs. I mean, we definitely do that. But not just that, and not all the time. It can be heavy going and involve a lot of extra hours, research and gruelling rehearsals. I’ve asked some of my fellow first year drama students a few questions, to see if they can sum up their own experiences and challenge some of the stereotypes we face in performing arts.
How would you describe your experience as a drama student in three words?
What has been your high point so far?
Leanne B: My highest point was receiving praise for a monologue I had worked my hardest on from my fellow students. Feedback from tutors is obviously essential but I feel that as drama students, we need to build each other up when we see that is fit. A lot of us are reaching for the same dream so it’s lovely to hear praise from them.
Dan: Being able to work with lighting, sound and creating my own set.
Luke: High points of the year so far have to be the final performances. As a group, making something original and unique that no one has seen before is something I find only drama students experience more often than not!
Me (Jess): I’m proud of my grades throughout this first semester, ranging from A- to A, something I wasn’t expecting whilst finding my feet at university. It definitely pays to stay focus, keep up-to-date notes and ask for advice when needed.
What have you found challenging about being a creative arts student?
Soph: I find the stigma surrounding creative degrees really irritating. It takes so much perseverance, effort and creativity to succeed in what we do but I feel like this isn’t appreciated because it isn’t a ‘facilitating’ subject like maths or English. (I could rant about this all day but I’ll leave it there)
Alex: Contrasting styles are always going to be a point of contention, so naturally they’re challenging, but part of the fun is finding a creative compromise.
Meg: Having the big jump from A level to university, and not having the guidance when it comes to my performances and essay writing that I was used to.
Me (Jess): It’s difficult when there are people, both on your course and outside of it, who do not respect or validate your creative opinion. Everyone is entitled to try whatever they like and suggest ideas/constructive criticisms; unfortunately, some people just don’t get that.
What advice would you give to someone starting a drama/performance degree?
Chloe: My advice would be stay focused, go above and beyond the requirements of the course and always do more. Make the most of the time and learn as much as you can. Try new styles that are out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to mess up. Use every opportunity you can get and use your intuitive to make stuff happen for yourself. The worst thing to do is rely on other people, put the work in, which can mean long days. Be committed 100%, it works.
Leanne H: Don’t be afraid to take creative risks, especially in the first year where you have room to make mistakes and, more importantly, learn from them!
Harry: I’ve found that written work challenges me a lot on this course. Do your work early. Don’t leave it late and try your best.
Me (Jess): Everyone is here for the same thing, don’t let anyone hold you back or make you nervous. Always strive to produce your best work and put in those extra hours. They make the difference.
Have we changed your mind/made you see differently about anything?
(p.s. just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who contributed answers for this post!)