Hia, hope you’re all ok! If you’ve started your exams or not, keep up the hard work, there’s not long to go now! That’s what I keep telling myself anyway!
As I’m coming to the end of my 3 year rollercoaster of a ride at the Atrium I thought I’d share with you some of my experiences and things to look out for as you enter your first year of studying Drama or are interested in studying the course in the future.
What is first year like as a Drama student at the ATRiuM?
The first year is a very exciting time as everything is new and you don’t know anyone, but it also can be very daunting with increasing deadlines, working independantly and the harvard referencing. These are all things that you will get used to with time. My lecturers were very understanding in the first year as they know that some will settle in to the new academic way of learning quicker than others.
Half of the first year is theory, which consists of about 2-3 lectures a week and then around 2 seminars a week where you split off into smaller groups to discuss the topics that were covered in the lectures. Make sure you take notes and pay attention in the lectures (I know it’s hard) as you will impress your lecturer at seminars when you comment on the topic, showing that you’ve listened and won’t get caught out if the lecturer asks you a question on the lecture.
The other half is practical based. My first year ranged from making my own soundtrack to a horror film, making a short film and creating two short performances as a group. This is where you get to show off your creativity and the lecturers emphasise on this as they rarely give you a theme to go on they just tell you to create a performance based on whatever interests us; so it’s really nice to have that freedom to create whatever we want.
What if I don’t have an A-Level in Drama?
I didn’t study Drama for my A-Levels because my school only offered it at GCSE standard, this did scare me slightly as I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to understand the work. This was soon resolved with my deducation to the work and the fact that a lot of what the lecturers were covering in the lectures, the other students hadn’t studied either. So there wasn’t a lot of catching up to do. Also, this is a tip for August when you get your results; don’t let the grade of your Drama A-Level (if you study it for A-Level) decrease your confidence in studying the subject at University. A lot of my course mates didn’t do very well at their Drama A-Level but have flourished at University of South Wales and are guaranteed to graduate with either a 2:1 or a First this summer.
What if I’m better at the practical side than the theory?
Don’t worry too much on the essays, as the lectrers are really supportive. Anything you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to send them an email to ask. Also, as you go into the second and third year you can choose modules that are slightly less theory and academic and more practical. Especially in the third year, there is a lot more practical based work as you have to create your own company and devise a performance. Of course there will be some dreaded essays to do, so a service that I have used a lot during the three years is the Education Drop-In centre at the Atrium who supports and offers advice with your essays and looks over the grammar and structure. Also if you’re better at coursework than exams, GOOD NEWS! There are no exams on my course! No matter what module you take it the work you produce will either be performances, essays or presentations. Say goodbye to long nights of revision and having a bad wrist during exams.
What type of performances have I been involved in /created over the last three years?
There have been so many but the ones that stand out for me are the sight specific performances. One being in a house where we were re-enacting memories we had of living in our own family home; this was really fun to devise. I also was part of a sight specific performance at Aberystwyth to do with the first protest of the Welsh Language Society. This was a great experience as we were working for a professional company with a cast of 60 all dressed in 60’s wear with an audience of around 500 people. This is the good thing about my course is that you get to be involved with a lot of professional performances and companies during your 3 years, so that you can make contacts before you graduate. If you have an interest in directing, I also took part in a directing module in the second year and had to devise a 20 minute play, I learnt a lot of vital skills during that process, as you had to be organised, creative and show good leadership skills.
I hope this has helped with your choice to study Drama at the ATRiuM this year or the next! Stay tuned to hear more of my Drama experiences in the weeks to come! Sian