Elly Datson, A Touring Theatre Mtheatre student at the University of Worcester talks us through the common misconceptions about her degree:
So it normally goes something like this:
“What are you studying?”
“Ha, no, Touring Theatre…”
“Ohhh…like a circus?”
“Um, well…not really…”
Most of us will be familiar with Theatre Studies or a Drama Degree, but very few of us have heard of a course in Touring Theatre. The course I’m studying is an Integrated Masters in Touring Theatre and it spends 4 years equipping students with as many skills as possible to prepare them for a career in the arts (specifically a touring theatre company).
Sound and lighting, stage management and marketing, performing and directing are just a few of the subjects that get taught throughout the modules. Both performance and non-performance roles are given equal importance, because there’s no point being a brilliant performer if you don’t know how to market your product! When you’re trying to start up your own touring theatre company on little to nothing, the less you pay to hire someone to do things for you (because you’ve been taught to do it yourself) the better! It means you’ll have more money to invest in the performance!
As a student on this course, I’ve heard pretty much every drama student gag there is…people say that it’s an easy degree, or that we prance around and pretend to be trees and then put on yet another production of Romeo and Juliet. They couldn’t be more wrong.
In fact in most TV shows (even my beloved Friends) or movies, drama lessons are pretty poor representations of the actual hard work it takes to do this degree and how much work it takes to succeed in the theatrical industry.
I’ve heard Uni mates studying other degrees complain about 2-hour lectures… whereas the average lecture for a drama student will be at least 4 hours (and that’s the minimum). We will usually have at least one or two lectures lasting around 7 to 8 hours each and when we’re on tour…well we’ve had to leave University at 7:30am, set up, perform, do an after-performance Q&A, take-down all of our equipment, go to the next location, do it all again and get back at around 11pm… and that’s just one day out of a 2 week tour. But….its worth it, you’re learning skills at each venue and you are immersed in the world of touring theatre which is just where I want to be.
All those hours you spend performing don’t count towards the extra hours you spend in rehearsals (outside of lecture time)…hence why someone studying theatre’s catchphrase will be something along the lines of, ‘I can’t, I have rehearsal’. Theatre is a lifestyle; your free time will be spent researching, rehearsing, writing, rehearsing, devising, rehearsing, designing, rehearsing…you get the idea.
It’s intense, but it is also incredibly rewarding. Earth without art is just ‘eh’ …the arts, in whatever form, bring joy and fulfilment, they challenge, transform and bring communities together. Every piece of research carried out into why, how and if, the arts are important, has come to the resounding conclusion that they are in fact fundamental to us; as individuals, as a society, as a world.
So the next time you think about making a dig at your friend who decided to study drama, theatre studies, touring theatre…etc…well just make sure it’s not tech week…because they’re really busy.
Love Elly xx