Advice for first-year theatre students: what I wish I’d known
So, A level results day has just passed! I’d like to welcome everyone who is about to start their first year at Warwick, especially theatre students. I can’t wait to meet some of you in person (fingers crossed!) when the autumn term starts.
This next period can feel a little weird. Between confirming my offer and waiting to move to uni, I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, apart from buying the entirety of IKEA to decorate my uni room. I was also really anxious about starting my degree; given that my A levels had finished in March, I had sort of forgotten how to complete assignments to the best of my ability, and how to get into that “work” headspace.
Here are some things which I would have found useful to know before starting uni. I hope this makes you more confident going into your first year 🙂
Like some other arts degrees, your first year doesn’t count towards your final grade for your degree. Instead, it gives yourself and the lecturers an idea of your abilities, and directs you towards what you might want to focus on in your years which do count. The first year written assessments teach you how to write university standard essays and portfolios, and the practical pieces help you settle into working with new groups of people. This is a great chance to experiment and not be afraid to make mistakes! The first year modules cover a broad range of the theatre and performance studies discipline, from the history of traditional theatre to contemporary performance practices like live art. Keep a look out for my next blog, I’ll do a breakdown of all the first year theatre modules!
During lectures and seminars, you should make notes on anything that interests you, even if it’s not related to the topic. There will be times in the year where you have less to do, and reading extra material or revisiting notes will help keep your head in the game. Some topics are going to interest you more than others, for example I really enjoyed learning about how cultural imperialism impacted global theatre. You can expand these notes in your spare time, and then when it comes to writing essays, you’re all set!
Don’t be afraid to look or act stupid! The best thing about doing a creative degree is that it’s all about thinking out of the box. In no other department could I get a first for writing a script about a train conductor having a bathroom-related accident! It’s always a little awkward to do practical work with new people, so you should do some warm up games or outings with your coursemates. It makes working together so much easier if you form a connection first.
I definitely regret not using the library more in my first year. I found writing essays so much more manageable when using physical books. Also, referencing beyond the reading list in your essays shows you have a real interest in what you’re talking about, and will make your essay stand out against ones which stick to the compulsory reading. In the second term I went to the Rootes learning grid in the evening with my flatmate a few times a week. Because we lived in Westwood, it was a refreshing walk, and it made a nice change to studying in our flat. There are loads of study spaces on campus which I recommend using, especially if you’re studying with friends! Some of them also have cafes, like the Westwood study rooms and The Oculus on central campus.
If you have any other questions about what to expect from the first year of the theatre course, feel free to message me or leave a comment!