Daisy England, BA (Hons) Theatre Arts, talks about how the study environment and access to all aspects of stage production benefits her degree.
What advice would you give to anyone that’s thinking of coming to study at the University of Derby?
I would say go to an Open Day. You get to see the main campus but also a coach trip to the actual theatre. You'll be able to picture yourself up on the stage or behind the scenes as well, if that's what you want to do. Look around the halls of residence too, and don't be afraid to ask questions and talk to the lecturers or current students.
What are the main reasons for taking this course?
I want to be an actress, so hopefully when I graduate I can go on to drama school.
What are the best things about studying your course?
The lecturers are all real actors, so when they’re not working here part time, they’re working on sets or in plays. We get to work in a big live theatre so you get to be around actors and professional technical people, so you not only get to learn from the actors but also how a real theatre works.
What have you enjoyed most about the course so far?
I liked being in the theatre because you don’t really just stay behind, you get to be shown the real stage. You become part of a community, so you get to know people that work in a theatre, the technical people, the box office, and it’s a real sense of family. I enjoyed working with Tim Haywood, a costume designer on Doctor Who and Pirates of the Caribbean - knowing someone that’s worked on such big things is a big opportunity. I’ve also liked working with companies that have come in for workshops and talks, so they give us a sense of what it’s like when you graduate or what you can learn while you’re on the course.
Why did you choose to study the course at University of Derby?
When I came to the Open Day, I thought we'd just see the classrooms but I was shown around the theatre, the studios and dressing rooms, and I thought "I could really really be here for three years, it’s going to be so much fun".
How have you found the tutors in the support that they’re giving you?
Really handy, because on this course it's not just performance, there are essays too, but they'll have elements of something your tutors will have been through. This experience means you can talk to them if you're stuck, and they'll be able to help based on what they've learnt over the years so you can use that in your own performance.
Have you had any interesting guest speakers or lecturers?
We’ve had Frantic Assembly, who came in to do physical theatre last year. We've had speakers about acting for film and TV, stage combat, and actors who'd do Q and A sessions with us. We could ask plenty of questions about drama schools and what to do once we graduate, for example theatre companies or national tours. There's a graduate company, Uncontained Art, who do workshops to give you more help and ideas for what to do once you graduate.
What do you think of the facilities and equipment?
Really good, because after using the studio space in the first year to get used to acting to an audience, in the second year you can actually work on stage at the theatre. We can use the dressing rooms like professional actors, or go into the technical side such as costume design, sound or lighting. You get a real sense of how everyone works together to get the show running.
Are you involved in any clubs or societies?
One of the societies I’m in is the Theatre Society, so last winter we did Jekyll and Hyde and Cinderella. You get to meet people from different courses which is really good, because you wouldn't encounter them normally but they'll all be in this one society. Even though it's all amateur, you get to have fun and put on proper performances.
What would you like to do in your future career, and how do you think university study has helped you towards this?
In the future, I’d like to go on to do professional acting, so working on the stage and maybe being in TV or film if I can, but the majority of the time I’d like to be on the stage because you get the whole live experience with the audience. I think, when I get into my second year, I’ll get a chance to be in front of the public and a taste of what it’s going to be like when I graduate.
What do you like about the city of Derby and Derbyshire?
You’ve got places like the Quad which is like a big cultural arts museum gallery. It’s also got things like bars, it’s got workshops, it’s got a cinema where you can go and see National Theatre Live and you can see Shakespeare or any kind of plays. There’s the Assembly Rooms which is also connected with Derby Theatre, so you can go and do work experience there if you want to. It’s easy to get around too because the train station is only about four minutes away, and if you want to get to Britannia Mill or Markeaton you can even just walk.
How would you sum up the experience of studying this course at the University of Derby?
I got a chance to become part of the whole theatre, so I like how, even though you’re at Derby Theatre, you still feel like you’re connected to the main campus. We use the lecture halls, the library, Britannia Mill, the main campus, Markeaton and all their little libraries. Even though you’re a theatre student and you’re mainly based in the theatre, you’re still able to feel like a University of Derby student.
Is there anything you’d like to say about the friends that you’ve made whilst being at university?
I think the great thing about Theatre Arts is that unlike the other courses, you really have to work together because you’re not just sitting around doing lectures, writing, you’re actually going to put on performances. You’re going to be learning lines, sometimes really having to trust your fellow students because you’re going to be doing quite physical things, and over the three years that trust just gets more and more and more. By the end of the course you’ll have friendships that are going to last forever, friends that you’re going to know for years afterwards.
Did you benefit from having a personal tutor?
Having a personal tutor gives you a chance to improve yourself, because they'll tell you what you need to hear and encourage you to do what you want to do. You'll prove yourself, boost your grade and have more confidence in yourself. The tutorials we have before our essays are due allow us to talk to our tutors, ask questions and get feedback - they always push us to be our very best.