I joined Newman University in September 2016 to study Drama after leaving Sixth Form, withdrawing from another university after 2 weeks, then working for a year in my Secondary School / Sixth Form in various departments. Now 5 years on since I got offered my place at Newman I want to give you this article to say what studying Drama was like up until when I graduated in 2019, and what it has allowed me to do since then. There are 3 key areas that the Drama course developed in me which I will explain: Knowledge, Connections and Belief.

Knowledge.

The Drama course is one that is not as well-known but has grown in stature. Each of the lecturers have a brilliant array of experiences and skills that inspired me as a student. The course allowed me to experience performing in professional theatre spaces like the Midlands Art Centre (MAC) in Edgbaston. Plus, the course covered Drama from its origins to its immediate impact today.

However, you are not simply expected to absorb knowledge; you are encouraged through the essays, the presentations and performances to create new ideas, new techniques and new paths for Drama. Yet, this is not just on the stage, you experience Drama in health settings and in educational settings to name just a couple of extra ways we can use drama.

Connections.

The second area is the connections I built from doing the course. The group I was in built a great bond over the 3 years and even when tension cropped up, we managed to work through it professionally, which led us to giving a team-effort performance for our last production in third year (every time I think about those performances it makes me smile).

Connections to lecturers also have been long lasting. They treat you like an adult and a dramatist and want you to excel in your areas of interest, plus push you out of your comfort zone. I am grateful every day for their commitment to helping me.

The last connections are with the wider external companies, practitioners and establishments that the Newman Drama team have. I have built up so much work experience because of these connections and it proves that the Drama course is more than the taught sessions.

Belief.

The last area I developed is my belief. I put this last as it shows the long-term impact the course had on me. After building a strong supervisory connection with one of the lecturers on my dissertation project, they believed in me enough to suggest the MRes Humanities at Newman. After lots of thought I made that leap and I graduated last year in August. In doing that MRes course I developed further my belief in Drama as a means to develop how we view ourselves, each other and the world we live in. It has propelled me into my role working for Newman as a mentor and in the marketing and widening participation team with an organisation called Aimhigher West Midlands. In this role I aim to support young people from year 9 to 13 make informed decisions about their futures.

I do not feel I could be in this role or could have done the MRes course without the Drama course at Newman. Yes, there are days that anxiety comes in like a cloud and it stops me from making decisions that will help me. But, the Drama course taught me we are always developing; we never can reach a ‘perfect’ life. The course and the lecturers taught me to keep adapting, bouncing back and striving for what I believe in: which for me is Drama as a means to help us in this challenging time.

– Wesley Rolston –