The Theatre Department at Warwick
One of my favourite things about studying theatre at Warwick is the theatre department itself. Ever since I started, the department has felt like a welcoming, friendly place, and has been a great source of support throughout my time at Warwick. Therefore I decided to talk a bit about why I love the department and what makes it such a great atmosphere to be in!
One of the things that I think makes the theatre department at Warwick so great is its size. As the department is relatively small (for example, there are only around 27 single honours students in my cohort) it is very easy to get to know everyone studying theatre, allowing bonds to be formed between the students. This also means that it’s quite hard to get lost in the crowd, and while I found this a bit intimidating at the start of first year, it has become something that I love as the lecturers can notice if you’re struggling with something and are able to help. The size also makes it easier for the seminar leaders to check in with everyone around assessment time, allowing us to talk through our ideas and get a few pointers.
As well as those in our classes, the size of the department makes it easy to make friends with the students in the other years. Most of the people studying theatre and performance are super friendly and welcoming, and the older years are always willing to chat about advice, assessments, and which modules to take (or avoid!). This is helped by the events the department runs every so often, such as a pizza/open mic night that was run at the beginning of both my first and second year. At both of these events I met students in other years who I continued to see and talk to throughout my time at Warwick. By the beginning of my second year, it was rare for me to visit the department building without running into someone I knew there!
All of the staff in the theatre department, from the professors to the theatre technicians to the administrators, are really lovely and approachable. Every member of staff has their own unique personality, which makes lectures and seminars a lot more fun, and they always make an effort to say hello and see how you’re doing at the start of seminars. Again because of the size, it is quite easy to get to know most of the people working in the department, especially as in my first year many of the academics helped teach a section of the core modules. Over the years we’ve grown closer to our lecturers and seminar leaders as they’ve helped us develop our creative and academic skills, making the department feel like a community.
The department has become increasingly good at hearing and responding to the student’s needs, and it is clear that the department wants to know how we’re doing. For example, this year the head of the department, Anna Harpin, has run two department ‘town halls’ over Teams, allowing students from all year groups to come and voice their concerns and worries. This has been a great forum to discuss online learning and the impact lockdown has had on us, and to hear from the staff what they have been trying to do as well. The department also has a student staff liaison committee (SSLC) which meets once or twice a term to discuss anything that needs to be discussed. The SSLC has a few student reps from every year, and is chaired by one of the third-year student reps, focusing on the student voice. This is a great way to get the department to hear the students’ concerns, and often allows change to happen, for example clashing deadlines to be revised to ease stress on the students.
There are many opportunities for students to get involved in the department in some capacity. As mentioned, students from all years can be reps for the SSLC, taking the other students’ concerns to the department. The department also often asks for student ambassadors for applicant days, with students able to sign up to as many or as few as desired. These are also a great way to meet incoming students and get to know the current students in other years. Another benefit to taking these department opportunities is that they have often in the past provided free lunch, sometimes with leftovers to take home for tea! As well as these and more in-department opportunities, theatre students are regularly sent out emails with other upcoming events and opportunities that they might be interested in. This is also a great way to know what the various societies are doing, as many of them send in events to be published on this.
All in all, the theatre department at Warwick is an incredibly friendly and supportive place to be. The size makes it easy to get to know the students and staff in the department, and there are lots of activities and opportunities to take part in. It really is a lovely little community in the University, one which I have appreciated a lot over my time here.