Why study theatre at the University of Warwick?
Why, why study Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Warwick?
I totally appreciate that studying a creative degree at tertiary level education is perceived as of a bit of a gamble. This could be particularly prevalent at Warwick University when you’re set against the majority of students undertaking Engineering, Maths and Economics degrees, all excellently executed courses with places being competitively sought after.
Study UK suggests that the most popular degrees in the UK are, in descending order: ‘Business, Natural Sciences, Engineering and Technology, Medicine, Law, Social Sciences, Sports Science.’ https://www.studying-in-uk.org/most-popular-degrees-uk/. So, deviating from the atypical undergraduate course can certainly be daunting, deemed to be somewhat risky, and plagued with (dare I say it) stigma regarding its ‘authenticity’ of merit as an Honours degree.
For me, choosing theatre studies was a clear gesture indicating just how impassioned I was by creativity and performative work. I had my reservations and worries about committing to such a creative degree and had been advised by family/ career advisers/ friends to pursue Law or English in place of Theatre, as it was the putative belief that I would most likely have more success in obtaining a secure career if I undertook said courses. Of course, I can only speak for my experience so far, and although long-term job-hunting is not on the horizon as of yet, I can detail some pivotal features of the University Theatre department that have placated my anxiety around my future. I can also give testament to fantastic experiences I have had in my home department, most which would not be available to me anywhere else.
I do remember attending my open day and being struck by how warm and connected the Theatre department was, and myself and all my friends agree that Millburn House really does have a special sense of community that is inclusive, friendly and good-humoured. I think being able to pop into a tutor’s or teacher’s office and have discussions, access constructive and valuable guidance or alternatively socialise in the common room, a milieu that is suitable for working or chatting is a marked rarity at university. I have had such wonderful experiences with all my tutors, lecturers and seminar leaders, and the mapping of Millburn accommodates a propensity to bump into old teachers and catch-up, or even again seek their advice about anything from career prospects to your next essay idea.
But the course itself is the real crux of your decision about where and what to study at University. My drama teacher was the first person to tell me about the prospect of blending vocational acting training with an academic degree. She advised me to look at Warwick, one of the top universities in the UK for my theatre, where the balance between these two ideals are executed effectively. I can vouch for this as someone who enjoys learning, reading and writing just as much as devising and performing, I feel both stretched and fulfilled here at Warwick. I have chosen modules that enhance my writing capabilities, my understand of theatre and representation, and my knowledge of making film and performing. Not only this, but I have taken part in plays during my spare time and have found myself a placement with a theatre company in London where I can witness creative decision making first hand.
One of the most special things about this degree is the freedom you have to tailor your own learning and fine-tune your interests and talents. You can also take a module outside of theatre, so you can experience a different department, educational materials, and methodologies. If your more interested in film, you can explore the film department and mix both theatre practices with film. Or, like I did this year, you could try an IATL module which is an interdisciplinary scheme that allows students form all disciplines to come together and investigate subjects such as: laughter, censorship, well-being, and more by drawing upon an array of different academic practices: science, theatre, psychology, language, etc.
In terms of the future and what happens after this theatre degree; what opportunities are available to alumni etc, well, some theatre students continue working in academia, or deviate to different courses, like law. Some students have set up their own theatre companies that tour and successfully put on shows. Other students have become fully-fledged playwrights, actors, teachers, lecturers, technicians, or marketers. Of course there are far more alumni stories but I just wanted to demonstrate that this degree opens possibilities up rather than limits them, which is something of a popular anxiety fueled misconception.
I hope you’re having a wonderful New Year!