Drama and English Studies

July 2012

Where did you Study?

The University of the West of England.

What did you Study?

Drama and English.

What year did you Graduate?

2009

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Innovation masquerading randomness (would’ve made it grammatically correct but I always stick to the brief)

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

Being visually impaired, I stayed at home while I was at Uni, being lucky enough to live in a city (Bristol) but not confident enough aged 19 to travel to a new one. The end of Uni was therefore a lot easier for me than for any classmates.

I wasn’t the average living-at-home “drive in for class then leave, get my grades and use them” student. I couldn’t drive for one thing. I wanted to be involved with everything I possibly could. The Drama Society was a big part of my Uni life and I got involved with external theatre projects from the people I met there. The summer I graduated I was invited to go to Edinburgh with one such troupe, as a Front of House manager. It was the first time I’d been and I had a wonderful time. Not having been cast in a role, I wrote a play during the rehearsal period and received some good comments about it, as well as expressed desires from people to act in it. I realised that this was a good way to keep involved in theatre. I also re-joined the Drama Society as an alumni member, having been elected secretary and carried on with my weekly trips to the Bristol Old Vic Young Company where I took the Writing for Theatre course. All the while, I kept up my 6- year-old part-time job in the Disney Store to earn money. That year was like living in a dream.

It was the year after when I realised I couldn’t carry on like this and needed to do something to move forward. I went back to the Drama Society again, this time starting my own Creative Writing group and taking on the post of Productions Manager and transferred Disney Stores to be closer to town, where the theatres were. Much as I still loved these things, my friends were moving on and the freshers were becoming younger. I needed to find something else to do.

I had spoken with a tutor earlier the previous year about Post-graduate Study, which had motivated me to get a First. Now I had one, I thought I ought to apply. Still not a confident traveller, I shied away from Drama school auditions, opting instead to apply for an MA in Playwriting. I thought little more about it until I was offered a place. I remained apprehensive about it right until I left Bristol. Royal Holloway was a campus University so it was safe for me but it was also near London which would give me a good opportunity to embrace the theatre scene. I have now been here 9 months and the trips to London get easier every time I go. In fact, London expects people to get lost so I am more independent here than I can be in Bristol.

Note: I was surprised at how little the MA cost, it is very good value for money.

What are you doing now and how long do you see yourself doing it for? Are you in your dream job? If not yet, what is this?

My MA finishes in September and for a while I see myself acting and writing freelance and trying to find an agent. I have managed to secure a Front of House job at the Bristol Hippodrome which breaks me beautifully into my desired industry without the worry of paying rent and is the flexible kind of job perfect for budding artists. I think my Disney Store experience has held me in quite good stead. My mum is retiring from teaching this year so my financial contribution to the home will probably increase but hopefully the four of us will manage. I do not plan to live at home forever but it’s quite convenient right now. I plan to stay in Bristol for about a year before hopefully moving to London, perhaps transferring ATG venues.

I’m not sure what my dream job is. Obviously a successful actor, playwright and singer but these are always short-term. If I have an amazing scholarly idea I may try for a PhD in future work in a University, as I found myself to be quite good at teaching people to be creative, but this would require funding. I don’t want to teach in a school, having seen the amount of paperwork my parents bring home, plus I hated school too much to go back to such an environment, even in a different position.

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

I think Uni has made me. I would absolutely not be the same person had I not gone and have tried to take every possible opportunity it has given me. I have learned academically and socially and become confident enough to at least think about doing what I really want to do.

Describe your Uni experience? Did you face any obstacles? The positives, the negatives, reveal all. Terrible lecturers can be anonymous!

I absolutely loved my UWE experience. It was filled with people like me. There is a real community feel to UWE and the staff take a real interest in graduates as well as current students. Obviously, with a 100+ year group there are going to be some students more noticeable than others and it can be difficult if you are not one of those who makes your voice heard initially. You must be confident and actively seek guidance. I was lucky enough to be approached by a lecturer in my final year and asked what I was doing next year but if no-one does this for you, you need to be forward and approach a lecturer with whom you have a rapport and ask for a meeting. Don’t worry if you’ve already graduated- send them an e-mail.

The main obstacle I faced was probably shyness and the realisation that I was learning alongside people as good as me and better for the first time in my life, making me feel quite average. My eyesight also meant that I wasn’t as confident as they were when it came to travelling- I got lost in my own city more often than my friends who didn’t come from there! Living with my parents also gave me a bit of an immaturity complex, though I am eternally grateful to them and am glad that I will not be spending my adult life in debt. I worried that I wouldn’t make friends as easily but I made some lovely friends, one of whom I frequently stayed with after nights out – I tried to get as much out of Uni life as possible while still working as hard as I could.

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

My weeks are pretty unpredictable at the moment. I normally read, try and write my dissertation, then look for the next opportunity to go to London!

Thought: If other people are just as good as you, you are also just as good as other people.

That’s it. Amy, you have been wonderful.

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