People will always tell you that university is about so much more than just your course, and that it is an opportunity to get involved with anything you want, and I have to say, at Durham, this wholly describes my experience.
No experience necessary
Before coming to Durham, I had done very little in the way of theatre; I had been in the nativity at primary school and was a very small role once in a musical at secondary school – definitely not a seasoned performer. I therefore never thought that university level theatre was even an option for me. I assumed you would need loads of experience and skill, which I think is a common misconception about activities like theatre at university. Luckily, I was wrong!
Last year, on a whim, I decided to audition for Collingwood College Woodplayers’ spring musical, ‘Chicago’, and it was one of the best decisions I have made in my university life so far! This is not due to the singing, dancing or acting, but because of the welcoming atmosphere I found myself in. My lack of understanding of how it all worked (and of how to dance) was never criticised, instead everyone took the time to explain it all to me, and I ended up learning a lot about not only performing, but how tech ad backstage crew work. Also, I had never met most of the cast or crew, but now some are my closest friends; theatre at Durham is not so much about the theatre itself, but making friends and learning new skills.
So much variety
It is also worth noting that, although I did a musical in first year, theatre here is so varied. With over twenty-five active theatre companies putting on over seventy productions a year, covering a range of niches, there really is something for everyone. The performances also offer a range of levels of commitment, so you can spend all your time on theatre, or just do it on the side with some other interests! Moreover, you don’t have to be a performer to do theatre, there are important roles as part of the backstage crew, tech crew, and production team that allow you to get involved in whatever capacity you wish. Again, you don’t need experience for these roles – I was the assistant producer on a play this year, having never undertaken any role like this before.
Drawing on my own experience, the best thing about student theatre at Durham is how flexible it is; you can do as little or as much as you want, you can have little to no experience or you can be a professional actor, and you don’t have to perform to be involved. If you are interested in theatre at all, even the tiniest bit, I would definitely recommend having a go at it, as you never know where it could lead you!
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