February 6, 2020, by UoN School of English
How Seeing Plays Helped My English Degree
Starting my English Degree at the University of Nottingham, a course in which you are thoroughly taken out of your comfort zone if you expect anything resembling a ‘dry degree’, nothing terrified me more than one looming module: Drama, Theatre and Performance. There is something uniquely evil in taking a shy student and forcing them to act out a scene in front of their peers, in which they can freely judge all your mistakes.
With all these nerves bubbling inside of me, and lecturers who near constantly raved about the pleasure of seeing the plays we read on stage, performed rather than simply studied, I decided to make a few trips to the theatre. There’s an endless buffet of choice in Nottingham: from the Playhouse, to the Theatre Royal, to the New Theatre. I even ventured down to the West End, to see Betrayal – which might have had more to do with Tom Hiddleston than my course, but I digress. Not only were the performances brilliant, and definitely within any student’s budget at the New Theatre and the Playhouse, but they really expanded my idea of theatre as a form.
Which is to say, even professional actors make mistakes; that doesn’t stop them from turning the stage into a place of constant flux, one where creativity is happening in that very moment, where a vision is coming to life in front of you. Every stutter and forgotten line served to amplify a performance, to cast something that might be completely extraordinary into the realms of everyday life.
I was still utterly nervous about performing, but the visualisation of a play on stage really helped me take control of my fear.
Danielle Smith is a second year English student at the University of Nottingham.