Course: BA Theatre and Performance
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I came to Leeds as a very mature undergraduate of sixty years. The course description which detailed the diversity of available modules led me to believe that the course would offer me not an opportunity to not only make theatre but also to understand the function of theatre and performance in a much wider context than my previous experience had given me.
What did you enjoy the most about your time at Leeds?
Discovering that some of my skills were valued far more than I ever believed they could be. The course and the School’s staff taught me that performance in its narrow definition of “acting” is a job which is part of a massive industry, and whilst it is enjoyable and gives one the opportunity and freedom to be creative this is no reason to sell yourself short. I have found that the School has a good reputation in the industry and that my qualification carries kudos and is respected by individual professionals and their organisations.
I also valued the constant encouragement of the staff, and the collaboration between the great majority of the students. The course is heavily reliant on interaction and collaboration, so this prepares you for the same ethos in the performance industries.
The course is ideal for those who wish to do more than the standard academic and set rehearsal hours in that it encourages you to spend extra hours devising, writing and rehearsing for performance. Whilst this extra work may not endear the course to some it lays a good foundation for the work expected at MA level or at drama school, and also for those who, like me, go straight into the performance industries.
What are some of your career highlights since you graduated?
Since graduating I have embarked on a new career as a professional actor. I have an agent who represents me and I am also proactive in finding my own work. To date I have been employed in a diverse range of performance environments including theatres, museums, photographic studios, short films, TV adverts and a soap opera.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying your course?
Agents, directors, casting directors, producers and all potential employers are not just interested in your talent and your degree qualification. A large part of your employability factor is your work ethic, so a good place to start developing yours is on this course. Get into good habits. Turn up on time; be prepared; do the work in class and on your own; learn your parts; look after and respect your fellow actors (students) and directors and they will reciprocate. I find that this is how the industry works so get used to doing it now.
Ray goes by the stage name Ray Castleton in his acting career. You can find his impressive stage and screen appearances on the Mandy Network.