First Year Theatre Highlights
This week I wanted to talk about some of the theatre projects I’ve been lucky enough to take part in or watch over the year to give those of you interested in getting involved in drama at Warwick a flavour of the kind of opportunities on offer. Whilst some of these experiences were specifically part of the Theatre course, most of them were open to anyone or were run by the various drama societies, so even if you aren’t studying a Theatre degree there’s plenty for you to get involved in! Living at Warwick, you will have the Warwick Arts Centre and a huge variety of drama societies and student theatre on your doorstep, so whether you’ve loved theatre for years or are completely new to it, getting involved in drama in your first year at uni is a great way to make new friends, have fun and develop new skills. Here are a few of my theatre highlights from the year…
The drama societies on campus are very active and a great variety of student shows are performed each term, from contemporary plays like Enda Walsh’s (performed by WUDS) to new interpretations of Shakespeare’s plays such as Shakesoc’s . There are also lots of devised pieces, performances of student-written plays and projects like WUDS in the Woods which involves a play being performed – you guessed it – in the woods! The drama societies hold auditions for different productions throughout the year so you have a huge choice of projects to get involved in. The dance societies at Warwick also hold showcases; in February I saw at Leamington’s Royal Spa Centre which was a great way to get a sense of each group’s work if you’re considering joining a dance society. The quality of the student theatre I’ve seen this year has been incredible and it’s really special to get to watch the work of people you know and support your fellow students.
The first show I saw as a Warwick student was by Motionhouse at the Warwick Arts Centre. Motionhouse are a renowned physical theatre company who I’d often heard mentioned, so to finally get to see their work for myself was really exciting! I also took part in a workshop led by two members of Motionhouse which was a great opportunity to see how the company work and hear the artists talk about their creative processfirst-hand.
At the start of Term 1, Shakesoc ran a trip to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatre in Stratford upon Avon where we took part in a workshop led by a member of the company. Being able to work with and learn from an artist from a company as prestigious as the RSC was a brilliant opportunity and it was also great to take advantage of the campus being so close to places like Stratford. The trip was also a chance to meet new people at the start of the year, get a feel for the society and do some off-campus exploring!
In Term 2 I took part in FreshFest, Warwick’s new writing festival. I worked as a producer on one of the shows which meant I got to participate in the audition process, work with new people and take on a new challenge – I’d never produced a show before so it was a great sense of achievement to pull it off! The way the festival works is that students submit plays they have written, a selection is chosen and these are then allocated to teams of directors and producers. The coordinators can put you into teams so you can still get involved if you don’t know anyone! There is then a weekend of auditions, the teams choose their cast and the plays are put together and eventually performed in different spaces around campus. This was a great project to get involved in as a first year because it taught me how to produce a play and manage a team, skills that will definitely be useful for the rest of my time at Warwick. It was also exciting to see the other plays being performed and support the writers, actors, directors and producers of tomorrow!
I’d wanted to see for a while before coming to uni so I was so glad to get the chance to see it at the Warwick Arts Centre as part of its tour. Mark Lockyer’s one-man show was unlike anything I’d ever seen – it explored difficult themes like mental health with honesty and humour and was one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever been lucky enough to see. Studying at Warwick, you will have access to a huge variety of professional theatre, from plays to stand-up comedy to orchestra concerts to operas. The Warwick Arts Centre also makes watching theatre more accessible on a student budget – student discounts are available and the cinema screens theatre broadcasts (this year I saw screenings of the RSC’s and the National Theatre’s ) helping you see great plays whilst avoiding expensive trips to London theatres!
The annual Emerge Festival features performances by theatre companies made up of past Warwick students. It was really inspiring to see the success of graduate companies and get a sense of what you could be doing in a few years’ time, especially given the high calibre of the performances. I also attended a panel session which was a great opportunity to ask the artists questions and give feedback to help them develop their pieces further.
At Warwick you really get the opportunity to give your creative input and express yourself creatively, whether that be by working on shows first-hand, writing, or taking part in workshops and panels. Whilst getting involved in drama at Warwick is a great way to have fun and take a break from studying, it also gives you invaluable skills and an insight into the industry. There are so many different ways to get involved no matter what style of theatre you’re interested in or how much experience you’ve had, so why not visit the different drama societies at the Societies Fair in September and find out how you can join Warwick’s unique theatre community!
A selection of tickets from the year!