Reason 1: Performance opportunities
Studying Theatre at York is a hugely rewarding, busy and challenging experience. Within the three years of studying on the BA course you will have the opportunity to experience working in all of the great performance venues that the department has to offer.
In your second year, you will do your first public performance as part of the Political Theatre Project in the Black Box theatre. This is an opportunity to showcase your abilities to a paying public audience. This is a really exciting opportunity to create work that is current and reflective of what is happening in today’s current political climate. Therefore, the performance should be constantly evolving and an opportunity to take risks as a group to create a piece of theatre that feels really alive and unique.
In third year, you perform a full length production from before 1900 in an even bigger venue. This is in the scenic stage, which is a really fantastic performance space that each group can really make their own. Your group is given a budget from the department with which to build your own set, buy costumes, cover promotional costs and pay for any extras that you might need. This results in performances that all members of the group can be really proud of that look incredibly professional.
If that isn’t enough group performances for you, you can decide to do another performance in your third year as part of a festival of plays. For this you can decide who you want to work with and which play you’d want to work on. The module is designed so that you can take your play on after university to different venues or festivals if you should want to.
Reason 2: Trying different roles
When working on these different performances, you don’t necessarily work as an actor. One of the really unique things about doing a theatre degree at York is that you have the opportunity to try out whichever roles you want to in a theatrical setting. These range from working as a stage manager, designer, producer, writer, director, dramaturg and more. This means you can try out different things and find out what interests you personally. With more than one performance available you have the opportunity to try multiple things out.
The Political Theatre Project is the perfect opportunity to try out something new as there will be plenty of support on hand to help you learn new skills. So even if you’ve never worked with lights before, you could end up having experienced being a lighting designer before you’ve finished second year. However, if you find something you love and know that is what you want to do, there is nothing to stop you sticking with that role either. I have acted in every show I’ve done at university so far and had the best time doing it. You are free to try new things as much (or as little) as you like.
Reason 3: Societies
The University of York has societies for everything you can think of and if they don’t you can make a new one. One of my favourite things about studying at York is the performance societies available. Since coming in first year I have performed in shows with the DramaSoc, PantSoc (The Pantomime society, not a club for those who love underwear as the name and logo might suggest), CHMS (The Musical Theatre Society) and Platform (the Department’s own performance society).
There are usually several shows a week performed at York. DramaSoc usually put on two performances a week in their performance space the Drama Barn – one which is usually student written (a great opportunity for budding writers). You can also apply to help out with these shows in any way you want. So, if you’ve always wanted to try costume design or stage make-up, there will be plenty of shows to help out with.
There are also performance opportunities available for a huge variety of abilities. Shows such as the pantomimes and CHMS’s Showcases take everyone who auditions,. Even if you’re not hugely confident in your acting ability and see yourself as more of a writer or director, you can experience performing in a supportive and no pressure environment.
Being a part of societies at uni has been one of my favorite things I’ve done here. I’ve met all my current housemates through societies. I would highly recommend them, both for the performance experience and for the social life and after parties that come with them.