Delving into theatre broadens students’ minds and talents

Creative instinct and the lure of the stage typically draw students to the Department of Theatre. But it's the historical and critical perspectives they develop, as well as the ability to express their ideas with the benefit of contextual knowledge, that really solidifies their understanding.

Ask any student and they will also likely praise the department's vibrant, inclusive and supportive personality. It's an important feature in a learning environment that pushes students intellectually as well as in terms of their confidence on and off stage.

Charlie Smalley

Before coming to university, Charlie Smalley had her heart set on becoming an actor. The breadth and flexibility of the department's curriculum allowed her to explore a different side of theatre that she hadn't fully considered: “I always knew that I wanted to work in theatre and it was coming to Bristol that really made me find what I wanted to do,” says Charlie, a BA joint honours student.

Her core modules such as 'Performance Forms and Analysis', 'Staging the Text' and 'Performance Histories', in addition to chosen optional units, which include 'Interpreting Plays', 'Performing the Archive' and 'Popular Performance', helped her to develop skills in performance criticism and writing. At the same time, her term as president of the student production company Studiospace gave her the chance to develop vital industry-facing skills. Her university time was complemented by a work experience placement with Bristol's famous Tobacco Factory, a placement she was able to secure thanks in part to the kudos of being a Bristol University student.

Consequently, her newfound understanding of the theatre has set her on course for a career in production management: “I've enhanced my skills, and become part of a department that's more than just about university. That's what's unique and special about the arts – we do it because we passionately believe in it as a lifestyle choice. If you're determined and hard-working enough, there are plenty of unexpected opportunities.”

Paul Geary

For Paul Geary, the interdisciplinary nature of a department with expertise in history, literature, dance and performance practice as well as theatre studies, enabled him to explore theatre in new and insightful ways. The 'Independent Study' unit taken during his final year was one opportunity among many that the department offers to get hands-on practical experience in the creative industries.

“Studying something that's happening in the wider artistic world as well as in academia is fascinating,” says Paul, “I got the chance to direct a Shakespeare play that we took to The Dell, which is the outdoor theatre of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford upon Avon.” Yet his progress as a student was also facilitated by “the openness of the academics and the great support from the production and technical tutors, who provide a valuable alternative perspective on your practical work.”

Tim Bishop

Tim Bishop came to the department as a mature student and chose Bristol because he was keen to find somewhere that would challenge him intellectually as well as fuel his creative side: “There hasn't been a single element of the course where I haven't felt pushed in an extremely productive way. The course has inspired and enabled me to do a lot of things I would never have done otherwise.”

Find out more

You can find more facts and information about studying Theatre at Bristol on our Theatre subject page.

Charlie Smalley
Charlie Smalley

That's what's unique and special about the arts – we do it because we passionately believe in it as a lifestyle choice. If you're determined and hard-working enough, there are plenty of unexpected opportunities.

Charlie Smalley

Did you know?

We offer eight single and joint honours courses in Theatre at undergraduate level

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