Early (by my standards) in the morning – Current Trends lecture
Today, my day starts at 11.30am, with a Current Trends lecture. This is an optional module which incorporates a weekly new topic. Today we are looking at environmentally friendly theatre. We have a guest speaker to tell us all about his zero waste, carbon neutral venue that his company built for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He begins by speaking to us about global warming, but then takes us outside to get us to engage with nature. As he instructs us to get into pairs, I’m reminded of being on a school trip. Although part of me does wonder why we are doing this, I also can’t help but notice that we do have some beautiful nature on our campus (my grandma would be so proud of me).
Early afternoon – Current Trends seminar
After a lunch break where I catch up with friends and eat my bodyweight in noodles, I have a Current Trends seminar. These seminars tend to be more discussion based than practical, but this does vary according to each module. For example, in the Acting or Directing sessions that you have in first year, the seminars contain more practical work alongside discussion.
Similarly, if I hadn’t opted to do the Current Trends module this term, I could have selected Directing for Film and Theatre. As the title suggests, this module focuses on different mediums of directing. It is a more practical choice, with a practical assessment to match. If you are more interested in learning to direct in a hands-on way, this might suit you better. I selected Current Trends as I like learning about theatre’s place and impact in the modern world. Also because our other module this term is extremely practical.
What we do in the seminar
For seminars we are usually set an article – or two – and a play to read beforehand. We discuss these and selected individuals within the group do presentations on the subject we are looking at that week. We also debate about controversial modern issues such as whitewashing in theatre or the ethics of theatre funding. Who doesn’t love a good argument on a Tuesday?
Today our discussion is a continuation on the lecture’s subject of the environment. My group has a nice gentle chat (heated debate) about if it is fundamentally selfish to have children in the current economic climate and whether it is cruel to bring children into the modern world seeing as they produce such a huge carbon footprint. This discussion is inspired by the play ‘Lungs’ which raises these questions and more. So, if someone tells you that all theatre involves is doing your best impression of a tree then feel free to tell them otherwise.
Late afternoon – rehearsals
In my opinion, the most exciting part of first term in third year is the pre-1900 production. You get a production budget, a script and some guidelines and create a full-scale show in the amazing Scenic Stage Theatre. We split the year group in half and each group is responsible for everything about the show; both onstage and off.
My role in this production is an actor. I was cast following a relaxed group audition and an individual script reading. Consequently, I am playing a sixty-something year old grandma who likes to sass everyone around her and then walk off as if nothing happened. I feel as if it may be a glimpse into my future.
The group elects a director, and they or the assistant director will run the rehearsals. There will also be the deputy stage manager and a dramaturg present. In today’s rehearsals, there are a lot of us attending. We are working on a complicated section of Act One which requires a lot of characters to be onstage.
This rehearsal is independent as there is no lecturer supervision. You have a mixture of supervised and unsupervised rehearsals throughout the course. The work you do in first and second year carefully prepares you for what you need to do when it comes to running independent rehearsals. You get used to asking questions about the plays and the characters and mining the text for details. This allows rehearsals to be a productive environment.
The people who run the rehearsal room are your friends and fellow students. It is a very close-knit and intense process. Although at times the time pressure and workload can prove a lot for some people, the course is a hugely supportive environment and the people that I work with are very caring.