Louise Olley, BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 2010
Louise Olley graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in Drama and Theatre Arts in 2010. She is now a professional actress and is currently touring the UK, playing one of the main roles in Dreamboats and Petticoats. The show has done very well and Louise has been impressing audiences and critics alike at venues as prestigious as the Edinburgh Playhouse.
Louise thoroughly enjoyed studying Drama at Birmingham. She recalls “As part of our course we were able to experience the practical aspects of theatre, not only through performance but also through mediums such as lighting, sound, stage management and costume, working on full scale productions in these roles. This has given me a clear understanding of everything that goes on within the theatrical world and also supplies extra opportunities for those who want to work in theatre as non-performers.
Louise is delighted with how her career is progressing. “As most actors will tell you, there is a certain, indescribable buzz that comes from performing in front of a live audience. I'm having a fantastic time touring the UK with an exciting, young cast.
Looking back on her time at the University, Louise has some great advice for Drama students: “Utilise the prestigious drama societies that are available at the University. I spent a large amount of my free time with the Guild Musical Theatre Society and was involved in all six of their productions during my time in Birmingham. The level of talent is sensational and it also creates other opportunities, for example, I was able to follow another passion and choreographed two of their musical shows. I also made many close friends through this group who are now working as industry professionals.
Chloe Gunning, BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 2007
Chloe graduated in 2007 with a BA in Drama and Theatre Arts and currently works for Heart FM as a Radio Producer.
“My drama degree helped my levels of confidence, and taught me how to work well with others. It also involved audio - which I focused on in the second year. The degree was the sort of all-encompassing course - you had to be really dedicated to do well - the same goes for working in a competitive industry like radio! While at university I gained work experience at BRMB and had my own show on Burn FM. Since leaving I continued to do work experience, landing a great placement at Heart. I was then offered freelance work, and worked there as well as at BBC Radio 1 and Kiss 100.
I now work as a producer on Heart Breakfast and Emma Bunton's shows. I love the variety and creativity of what I do. I have worked with some amazing people and had the opportunity to do some very exciting things - from broadcasting live from Disneyland, watching intimate sessions with Michael Buble and Robbie Williams, to producing fun, creative shows with the best presenters and biggest celebrities!”
Katie Day, BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 2001
Katie graduated with a BA in Drama and Theatre Arts in 2001. She is now the Artistic Director of The Other Way Works, a theatre company that she co-founded in 2001.
“I co-founded my theatre company The Other Way Works with a handful of University of Birmingham graduates in the summer after graduation. I undertook further study in 2002/3 - an MA in Directing for devised theatre at Central School of Speech & Drama, London. Following this I moved back to Birmingham and have lived here ever since, building the theatre company from nothing into a successful small-scale touring operation, presenting experimental theatre performances. Running my own company means that I can make the work that I want to make, in the way that I want to make it. It makes me happy to be able put artistic integrity before profit when coming up with ideas for new performances.”
Rosie Walsh, BA English Literature and Drama and Theatre Arts, 2001
Rosie graduated with a BA (Joint honours) English Literature and Drama and Theatre Arts and she is now a self-employed novelist and TV documentary producer.
“One of the most positive aspects of my drama degree was the atmosphere in the department. It really was like being in a family - a slightly mad, noisy family, admittedly, but a family all the same. Being thrown together to do the kind of work we did in that department created a wonderful sense of camaraderie and I am still very good friends with a lot of my chums both in my academic year and those above and below me. The tutors were very much part of it too; they were the antithesis of the remote academic hiding behind his lectern. They were right in the thick of it with us and I think we all benefitted from that.
After my degree I started working for a major west end theatre producer but after a couple of years felt that I needed to do something a little more creative. That's when I decided to try television. I had to start again from the beginning - which was, briefly, rather galling - but once I'd done my stint running around after people I soon began to progress and got my break as a director after six years of hard work. The writing was added to the equation only recently but I'd always felt that writing was my strongest skill while studying at Birmingham and it's an area where my tutors were particularly encouraging.”