End of Autumn Semester

Goodness gracious, it’s almost Christmas!

The last few weeks of term disappeared so quickly that I’ve barely had a chance to breathe; Drama Society has been very busy picking our first show of next semester as well as casting our upcoming musical, ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’.

On top of that I’ve been working on my final essay for The Gothic – I’m very sad to be finishing the module as it’s been one of my favourites at uni. It was also doubly sad because this was the last year the module was going to be running so it wasn’t just the final seminar for us but also for my tutor who has been running the course for the past 8 years.

My final Gothic lecture was also, in all likelihood, my final undergraduate lecture as all of the modules I’m taking next semester are seminar taught only. Graduation suddenly feels a lot more pressing.

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I won this lil book for coming second in the Gothic module pop quiz

Over Christmas I am working on my dissertation which I *think* is coming on well… it’s nice at least to spend so much time working on something that I’m really interested in. I’m also trying to write my first personal statement for one of my post grad applications – like I said, graduation is suddenly a pressing issue.

Coming home from uni I’ve had the chance to chat to my friends and siblings about their time at uni, and I’ve been shocked at some of their stories (and not just the Freshers’ week ones). Quite a few people I’ve spoken to say that they have one or two professors who are unhelpful or won’t make time to explain things when asked. It’s made me realise that the brilliant university experience that I’m having isn’t necessarily the same for everyone. Perhaps I’ve just got lucky with the tutors I’ve had or maybe it’s something about UEA’s outlook, I really can’t say. But I know that whenever I have had problems I’ve always felt that I had someone to turn to, whether that person was my academic advisor, staff at Student Support or a representative at the union.

Maybe I’m just getting nostalgic before I’ve even graduated, but as my final few months at UEA approach I find I’m falling more in love with it than ever.

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Not the post I was hoping to write:

I had hoped to be writing a post today about some of my favourite places in Norwich – it’s been awhile since I did anything like that – but unfortunately it’s been bucketing it down all day and I really don’t fancy standing in the rain taking pictures (especially as I’ve currently got the sniffles).

So, instead I thought I would just do a little update on where I am and what I’m doing.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the election of Donald Trump. I didn’t stay up all night in the student union bar as a lot of people did because I had an essay to write the next day, but UEA TV have done a lot of very good coverage of it.

It is of course a blow to all of us who thought that the US couldn’t possibly look past such racism and bigotry and I think it will make us think of our own politics rather differently. There was a generally muted feeling on campus the following day, everyone seemed to understand that something momentous yet terrible had happened. However, Trump’s election isn’t considered a reasonable excuse for turning in an essay late so life somehow ticks on.

On this greyest of Saturdays I am staying in, drinking tea and planning my MA application. It’s quite complicated and unlike undergrad applications there isn’t anyone holding your hand along the way. But, it’s also very exciting and it inspires me to work harder when I’m feeling that I’d rather stay in bed than go to the library. My modules are still going well and I am utterly in love with the Gothic. It’s really made me realise how lucky I am that I can spend all day reading something I love and call it work!

As for Drama Society, we currently have on a production of ‘King Lear’ in the UEA Drama Studio and as a committee we are busy organising this year’s Winter Ball. Today is the last day to buy tickets and we have already sold nearly 100! It’s very exciting to get to put on events like these but it’s also a massive amount of responsibility – perhaps it’s slightly machiavellian but I often find myself thinking how great this going to look on my CV…

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Hopefully I will soon have a ‘Best of Norwich’ post to share with you – so keep an eye out!

Best wishes to you all and be excellent to one another!

Why you should join a (Drama) Society

[Forgive a President a brief plug of her own society]

Drama Society – we’re one of UEA’s biggest (and best) societies, as well as being one of its most active.

We are an entirely student run group who put on up to six shows a year, including a musical, plus a short plays festival in the spring. On top of this regular programming we also run workshops with some of the industry’s top professionals as well as our own socials – e.g. pub crawls, BBQ’s, and a Winter Ball.

Sound good?

Over the next few days we’ll be running various taster sessions so you can come and see what we’re about. This includes our Big Meet on Friday where your’s truly will be giving a presentation about what we have planned this term, as well as our first Give It A Go session which will consist of drama games (to help break the ice) and a discussion about audition technique.

There will also be a BBQ on Saturday afternoon and a Recovery Breakfast (for those who go to the LCR on Saturday) on the Sunday morning. If any of this sounds interesting to you please go to our Facebook page to find out more.

Auditions are also open for our first show of the year, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’.

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On a slightly more personal note, I can still hardly believe that I’m the Drama Society President 2016/17. Had you asked me a year ago I would have told you absolutely not, I was petrified enough being the Equality and Diversity Officer on the previous committee.

However, I do remember wondering what it would be like to be president, and whether I could do it. I think it’s but one example of how much you grow at uni – I didn’t see myself as a leader or as someone who was qualified enough to run such a big and active society.

I love my degree so much, UEA is an extraordinary place to study and I have learned so much from my tutors – however, my greatest personal development has come from my extracurricular stuff, namely Drama Society. It’s shaped my social life, how I see myself as a person, and even my career goals.

Obviously Drama Society won’t be for everyone, but I would encourage all students to go out and find their Drama Society equivalent. Who knows where it could take you.

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The Drama Society committee 2015-16

Beyond the Seminar: Shakespeare Week

A belated Happy Easter to you all!

The Easter break is slipping past us at a shockingly fast pace, but with so much to look forward to over the next few months that isn’t an entirely bad thing.

Although we have the final mountain of essays to surmount in the next few weeks, English Literature students can look forward to an exam free third semester. This means that we have plenty of time for end of year shenanigans such as the annual ‘Pimp My Barrow’ Day (more on that closer to the time) – although sadly, unlike last year, we don’t have Radio 1’s Big Weekend on our doorstep.

Before we reach the promised land of third semester however, there are a few exciting things on the calendar…

As some of you may know, next month will be the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (and his 452nd birthday). To celebrate this the Drama Society (whose committee I am on) are organising a whole week of activities – including lectures, film screenings, a monologue slam, and a very special production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’.

I’m very much looking forward to the week (18th-24th April), but I have also surprised myself with how much I have enjoyed helping to organise the different events. All of the week’s activities have been dreamed up and organised by students for students. There have been meetings upon meetings and numerous emails, phone calls and brain storming sessions, all of which culminates in something tangible that is enjoyed by hundreds of students. Watching something that was once just an inkling of an idea in your head become a campus wide campaign is so rewarding – it shows how with work and effort you can have a real effect on the world around you.

A shorter way of putting it is simply that it’s amazing to be standing on this bridge between being somebody who things just happen to, and being a ‘proper adult’ who can make things happen. I’m beginning to realise that the things you learn at university aren’t just things you pick up in your seminars and lecture halls, but all of the extra opportunities it provides. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s true.

Anyway, for now I shall leave you with our exciting festival line-up. As always feel free to email me with any questions you may have.

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Always thinking about the next step…

One of the strange quirks of the academic year, especially the university system, is that by February of one year you are already planning for the start of the next.

This Wednesday I’m going to a lecture on picking my third year modules, which seems absurdly early and yet we are less than two week away from the Easter holidays!

I’m only just half way through my degree but already I’m receiving emails from UEA’s careers centre to remind that I need to get thinking about what comes next. Hopefully it’ll be postgraduate study which is quite a comforting thought – there’s a clear structure and a series of targets that have to be met, but if I didn’t go down the postgrad route… well everything seems to drop away into a bit of an abyss. It’s hard to imagine finding a job I love and being able to afford straight away to live somewhere that wasn’t back with my parents. So you know, fingers crossed the MA plan works out.

Currently I’m focusing on which modules I want to be taking next year, whether I want to run to be on the Drama Society committee again, and helping plan a short theatre festival tour with some of my housemates (more updates on that as it develops).

Most of the time I don’t spend studying is currently being taken up with organising the Drama Society’s short plays festival ‘Spotlight’, which is a great opportunity to give as many students as possible the chance to get involved in theatre making. I’m also beginning to realise that I might prefer helping people put on plays than actually doing them myself – information which may prove useful next time I take myself down to a career development meeting…

I love studying and learning about literature, I mean I’m even considering staying an extra year in education I like it so much, but I think that what I’ll be remembering most from uni is the amazing extra-curricular things I’ve done – such as all my work with the Drama Society.

Well, that and Biddy’s Tea Rooms, which is still my favourite place in the whole of Norwich!

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Next weekend I’ll either be dropping by Norwich castle or Cromer, so hopefully I’ll have plenty of things to show and tell you about.

Reading Week, ‘Antigone’, and Accessible Theatre

Reading weeks are usually associated with rest and recuperation, they’re times to reflect on the first half of a term and get a head start on the next couple of week’s reading. Unless of course it’s the show week of the first play you’ve ever directed.

This Thursday (tomorrow night!) ‘Antigone’ opens at the UEA Drama Studio – please forgive the shameless plug.

As one of the directors of the show I am of course very excited, but with my Drama Society Equality and Diversity officer hat on, I am extra excited as we are having our Friday performance interpreted by the UEA BSL (British Sign Language) Society.

This is a great chance for UEA Drama Society to live up to our mission statement of making theatre accessible to everyone, and hopefully it’s only the start.

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Designed by Nancy Netherwood

The rehearsal process itself has been equal parts pleasure and pain. Sam (my co-director) and I have been truly blessed with a fantastic cast who have continuously impressed us with their talent and commitment, and for that we will be eternally grateful. But, what we hadn’t quite appreciated at the outset of this adventure, was just how much of your time directing a show takes up – the answer is, a lot.

Whilst I don’t regret taking on this challenge, I’m very aware of how much catching up awaits me once the show is over. Reading weeks are supposed to be used for reading, not directing.

Ah well, you live and you learn.

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Photo by Sydney Burges