Don’t be afraid to listen to yourself and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
MA Musical Theatre
I’m not really sure that I made a choice. It’s the only thing that I’ve ever really wanted to do. I’ve had some great jobs in the past, but it was only after I got accepted to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland that I realised just how much it was a part of who I am. There had always been something missing, and being able to take that step into studying the subject I love has most definitely fixed that.
What made you want to study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland?
Growing up in Scotland, I have always held the RCS in high regard. When I was younger the RSAMD, as it was known then, had no courses in Musical Theatre. At that time in my life I really wanted to stay in Scotland, so I threw myself into working in theatre in a behind the scenes capacity, eventually working my way up to Box Office Manager at the Arches in Glasgow and eventually the Macrobert in Stirling.
When I turned 30 I made a list of 30 things to do, one of them was to get back on stage. It was while I was at Macrobert that I joined the local amateur dramatic society and got one of the lead roles, Julie in Carousel. I noticed that the RCS was also doing a production of Carousel just after our run ended, so I came through one night to see it and was mesmerised by the quality of the performances, the beauty of the direction and design and probably most importantly for me, the way that the piece had been reimagined.
I went straight home to apply and was so happy to see that the closing date for auditions had been extended, so I applied straight away.
At the Conservatoire we are encouraged to think about ourselves as individual artists from the outset. This gives us the freedom to explore the genre and not to feel constrained by the more traditional aspects of Musical Theatre. We have some of the most exceptional teachers and visiting professionals coming in that sometimes you just have to take a step back, give yourself a wee minute to appreciate what’s going on and then get back to it as quickly as you can.
My four year old daughter is my constant source of inspiration. She is the funniest, kindest and cleverest little lady I know. She dances and sings her way through life and shows no fear.
I’ve worked in Scottish theatres for over ten years and have been lucky enough to witness some of the most amazing, unique and thought provoking work, not just in its finished form, but during the entire process. Being able to gain an insight into what it takes to create and stage a production, be it a one person show to a full scale panto has been invaluable. So I guess my professional inspiration comes from that, rather than one single person or piece.
Don’t worry about how you will make your studies work logistically. If it’s right for you there will always be a way to make it happen. When I first went for my audition, obviously finances were at the front of my mind, but I couldn’t think at that point, how I am going to afford it, how will I get by without a job etc etc…it was so important to stay positive.
I originally auditioned for the BA programme at the RCS, but at my audition it was advised that a Masters course would be a better option for me. I was over the moon, but again the fear of how would I pay tuition was at the front of my mind. Within 4 weeks of receiving my official unconditional entry, I found out that I had been nominated for ‘The John Mather rising star award’, which would cover most of my fees. I was very fortunate to then go on and receive that award. So that combined with the standard SAAS loan that is available to all Scottish postgraduate students, I was able to pay all of my fees and still have a little left over for living costs. There are many funding options available, granted it can take some time sorting through them all, but there are people who are skilled in helping you source the things that you need. Basically don’t let anything put you off from going for it, you never know what might happen. Another wee piece of advice that I love is, when trying new things, go with your gut instinct. It’s yours, it might not be right for everyone and in the end you might be asked to try something different, but don’t be afraid to listen to yourself and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
I think it’s pretty impossible to really plan for anything in this industry. But if I had a choice, I would love to start to build my professional career by working in Scotland. I’ve been really lucky that during my time at the RCS I’ve been able to see first hand the quality and inventiveness of some of the new musical theatre writing that is coming out of Scotland at the moment. If I could plan anything it would be to continue to workshop new material and develop ideas with bold and brilliant creative teams. It’s a very exciting time to be involved in musical theatre in Scotland just now, and I’m so happy to be able to be a part of it.
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