Preparing for you degree (as an English and Theatre student)
I finished my first year on Friday. It was a strange feeling, and if I am honest, slightly underwhelming. It didn’t finish with celebrations of any kind, but instead by shutting my laptop screen and then waiting in a queue for six hours to get vaccinated. Naturally, we passed the time by thinking of as many musical related vaccine puns as possible. This included ‘I really need this jab’ from A Chorus Line, and also ‘Vaccine’, which was set to the tune of Jolene by Dolly Parton but we replaced the lyric ‘Jolene’ with ‘Vaccine’. Clearly, prolonged boredom can cause certain people to resort to rather strange solutions. And by certain people, I do mean theatre students.
For fear of repeating myself, I am not going to try and go over what I have and haven’t enjoyed about blended learning this year and the advantages and disadvantages of trying to navigate undergraduate study during a pandemic. I have spoken about this in some (most) of my previous blog posts. It has been a strange year, I can’t deny that, but when I look back on all the memories I have made, I know I have enjoyed it. Today’s blog post is dedicated to discussing some of things I did in preparation for starting my degree, and some of things that, with the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done.
Now, when I say read loads, I mean it. Read anything and everything. I spent the majority of lockdown 1 just reading as many modern classics as I could, and although it may not specifically relate to the course, it gets you back into ‘rhythm’ of reading and processing texts quickly. It also helps you discover the kind of literature you are personally interested in. You have so much freedom in first year, so pinpointing the areas of research that interest and then being able to write about them in a low-pressure environment is a definite luxury afforded to you as a Fresher.
Consume as much theatre as possible!
Again, not the most revelatory piece of advice, but looking back I wish I had consumed more theatre before I started my degree. This could be watching live theatre, especially now the industry is (hopefully) opening back up, accessing the abundance of live-streamed or recorded theatre that is still available or even by simply reading more plays. Having a solid foundation of plays that you know about or are even just aware can be really, really useful across all of your first year modules. This is why I found the module ‘British Theatre since 1939’ SO valuable, you learn about and study a large number of canonical British plays and situate them within their social, historical and political context. Also, when looking for theatre to consume, I’d suggest focusing on contemporary British theatre. Become aware of the kind of narratives and stories being told on the British stage in the here and now.
This year, student societies have been a bit of lifeline for keeping first years engaged with extra-curricular opportunities. Follow a few of the main Warwick theatre societies ahead of time (WUDS, MTW, Codpiece) and get to know what kind of things they have planned for when you start. It will help because Fresher’s week can become a bit overwhelming, especially if you have multiple societies that you think you’ll be interested in. Narrowing down your options before you start will help you feel less overwhelmed by all the information you will be inevitably bombarded with.
Those are a few of my suggestions, but if you have any questions or would like some more advice on how to prepare for first year, feel free to send me a message! Make sure to have a great week!
Until next time,