Five simple steps to prepare for your undergraduate Drama degree at the Univeristy of Birmingham:
1. Engage with theatre and performance - watch stuff!
The first year of the course will ask you to think about what’s happening in the contemporary theatrical and performance landscape. We do this by looking at the theatre and performance industry, reviews and journals. The more you can familiarise yourself with the theatre and performance scene, the better. So you might want to start to follow UK and international theatre institutions, venues and practitioners on Twitter and/or Instagram such as The National Theatre, The Royal Court & The RSC.
Some companies/artists that we think are exciting, currently sharing their work online are:
You can also improve your understanding of the contemporary theatre landscape by reading theatre reviews in major newspapers such as The Stage and on social media channels.
Lastly, if you feel you have time, you could think about listening to some industry podcasts:
Dr Joanna Bucknall (Admissions Tutor for Drama and Theatre Arts) produces and hosts a podcast series about immersive and interactive theatre called TAIT
2. Read widely
Reading theatre texts is just as important as watching them in performance. Read broadly and read boldly. Challenge yourself to start reading performance criticism or work that is of a scholarly nature. Don’t worry if the text is tough to get through or a little dense, learning to take what you can and making multiple approaches to challenging scholarship is a great habit to get into. Pick up some plays that you have never heard of, written by playwrights that are unfamiliar. Pick up something old, something new, borrow something and maybe even stumble across something a little blue!
In addition to reading about practice and engaging with scholarship, it would be good to also buff up your knowledge and skillset for things that go on behind the curtains! Here are a few resources that open up the world of theatre crafts:
3. Start to learn from the industry pros
Watching or listening to interviews with celebrated performance makers is a great way to see how experienced and practising makers think and work. You can look for interviews with and talks by your existing favourite playwrights or practitioners or try a few of the below to learn about something new:
Caroline Horton (playwright and solo performance maker)
Felix Barrett (Artistic Director of Punchdrunk)
Tim Etchells (Artistic Director of Forced Entertainment)
4. Begin to cultivate your creative community
Take a little bit of time to start to get to know the staff of DTA and the creative, cultural landscape of Birmingham and the West Midlands. To get the most out of your studies you would benefit from beginning to cultivate your creative community and that can start before you even arrive! Begin to feel the flavour of the lively department by looking at what the staff and students have been up to and start to explore the cultural offerings of the city.
Staff: You can access all staff research profiles on our website, but we have highlighted some performance activities below to get you started:
Gulp! By The Bone Ensemble, directed by Adam Ledger
The Machinery by Caroline Radcliffe and Sarah Angliss
Alumni: take a look at the work of some of our industry based alumni:
Or perhaps look at some of the other avenues our students have taken since studying with us. You can even spot some stars!
Students & DTALiT!:students in DTA have been working to further cultivate the creative and cultural community of DTA. They have been working to build a sense of collaboartiob and comradery between staff, students, alumni and the city. This year DTA has launched DTALiT! It is a student-led community that produces regular podcast series, regular YouTube content, scratch nights, talks, masterclasses and social events and a yearly performance festival of staff, student and alumni work. Why not start getting involved by listening to an episode or two of the podcasts or watching some content on our YouTube channel.
Some Local venues to start to get to know:
5. Extend your own creative and scholarly practice
We will guide you in developing your performance toolkit when you arrive, but, in the meantime, why don’t you try some of these activities to keep your creative muscles flexed and begin to extend your practice. Do something playful or 'unusual' at least once a week and record your experiences in a creative diary with notes and sketches.
Why not try:
playing dress-up to create an alter ego
re-staging your favourite play on a desk, narrating the plot as you move about household objects that represent the characters and scenic elements
invent a new game/language/animal
draw a storyboard for the staging of a classic play
draw up plans for how you would adapt a novel for the stage
write a monologue or spoken word poem about your experience of something or to express your thoughts on a topic/theme
But most of all nurture yourself over the coming weeks and months, so that you can bring with you your curiosity, enthusiasm and willingness to open yourself up to the new!
Drama and English student Olivia recommends: