Photo of Amy Berman, BA English Literature and Theatre Studies student.

Amy Berman

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Hear from Amy as she discusses her time at Leeds. 
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Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a twenty-year-old English Literature and Theatre student here at Leeds. I am originally from Watford. Growing up, I have always had such a passion for both English and theatre.  

I worked in a hairdresser and a pharmacy before university, which boosted my confidence and social skills, as well as allowing me to save up some money to do what I loved.  

In my spare time I was travelling into London to see productions, whether that be Schonberg’s Les Misérables, Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke, or Harold Pinter’s Betrayal. I loved reading the plays as well as watching them, and my love for the arts ended up becoming a huge part of who I am today. 

I was passionate about performing whilst growing up: I belonged to a theatre group called Theatretrain, which gave me some incredible opportunities, notably performing at the O2 arena, The London Palladium Theatre, and the RAF museum. These opportunities gave me so much confidence and only emphasised how important theatre and the arts was to me – I don’t think I would be as bubbly and confident now without these experiences. 

Alongside this, I have always been an avid reader. I remember reading Alex Garland’s The Beach and realising how much I loved literature. I found it amazing that words could tell such beautiful stories and describe feelings like nothing else.  

Through my love of reading, I realised how much of an art it was too, and how literature and theatre rely so heavily on each other in the way they manifest. 

Without these experiences, I know I wouldn’t be who I am today. Literature and Theatre has always been something I am hugely passionate about, and something I will carry with me forever. 

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds? 

I always knew I wanted to apply for an English and Theatre joint degree as I was just so passionate about both subjects that I couldn’t bear the thought of giving one up. I have always treasured how much Theatre and Literature complement one another, and the thought of this degree was honestly like a dream to me! 

When looking at universities, one of the key things for me was a balance between the two subjects. Leeds University is amazing at offering this – there are a huge number of optional modules to choose, allowing you to pick whatever best appeals to you, whether that be an equal split between English and Theatre, or a heavier weighting towards one half of the degree. The module selection is incredible here and it has helped me thrive at university. 

Another key factor for me was the class size and facilities. University of Leeds have the most incredible facilities for English Literature and Theatre students in The Workshop Theatre. The Workshop Theatre is a space exclusively for English Literature and Theatre Students and consists of three amazing rehearsal/performance spaces for use, all of which are fully rigged with lights and sound systems. No space is better than another – they are all so amazing and I feel so lucky to have access to them!  

The size of my year group is very small compared to others, which is amazing. Not only do you make friends for life and become a close-knit family, but you also get so much attention and assistance from the academic staff, which makes such a difference. 

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study? 

I have always been so passionate about the arts. I am enamoured by performance and the beauty that goes behind it, as well as all the literature that surrounds and inspires people every day.  

English and theatre go hand in hand for me. There cannot be one without the other – the two rely on each other so beautifully and evoke such an array of emotions to those who view and read it. I love this concept, as well as how my degree allows me to further explore and question the meanings and emotions behind performances and literature, considering the social and political influences that seep into the writing too. 

Studying English Literature and Theatre is such a beautiful experience because you constantly find new areas to explore. There is a passion like no other when you find something that really interests and inspires you, and for me, this degree is the embodiment of everything I love. 

What aspects of the course do you enjoy the most?   

I love the workshops that I get to attend throughout my degree. Getting into The Workshop Theatre with my course mates is so exciting and fun – it allows you to explore the theories and technicalities of theatre in a practical way whilst working closely with your friends and your tutors to further understand your studies. 

I also love seminars – the chance to talk in further depth about such interesting texts is really beneficial, and the seminar layout is a great opportunity to hear the views of your tutors and course mates in a smaller and more intimate setting. 

Have you worked closely with a particular tutor or member of the University’s academic staff? Tell us about that experience.  

I have worked closely with numerous tutors! Mark Taylor-Batty, David Wylot and Clare Barker have all made time for me throughout the course of my degree to aid my essay writing and my thought process. It is such a helpful experience. The chance to talk one-to-one with tutors – whether in drop-ins, or in tutorials – aids your studies hugely. 

To have in-depth discussions with such intelligent and inspiring people – all of whom are experts in a specific area – allows for you to further your knowledge and ask for advice from some of the best people in the field. It’s also a great opportunity to verbalise and clarify your ideas. 

Your personal tutor is also so helpful for any pastoral needs. I have had numerous calls and meetings with Lourdez Orozco throughout my academic career, all of which have been hugely beneficial to my mental wellbeing. 

What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself? 

There are so many societies and clubs that you can join. Societies like the Open Theatre Society or the Leeds Theatre Group allow you to extend you talents beyond your degree, using the skills you have learnt throughout the semester to audition and take part in extracurricular shows. 

There are also opportunities to write outside of your degree too, whether for The Leeds Gryphon Newspaper, or The Tab Leeds. I write for The Tab, and through doing this I have developed my skill in writing and breaking news in a formal manner. 

There are also lots of sports societies such as Netball and even Vertical Fitness! I have gone to many GIAG sessions throughout my time at university, which have been great for making friends and having a laugh! 

Alongside sporting societies, there is also The Edge university gym that students can use, which is on campus and offers lots of facilities. 

What do you plan to do when you’ve finished your course, and how do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed so far at Leeds will help with these plans? 

I would love to do a law conversion once I have completed my degree at the University of Leeds. The skills I have picked up throughout my English Literature and Theatre degree will aid this massively. 

I have gained so much confidence and social skills throughout my degree, learning how to captivate a room and become a leader when necessary, as well as being able to step aside and work as part of a larger team too, ensuring to value all my peers’ opinions. 

The analytical and technical elements that I have developed through essay writing will also help me in the future too – I have an eye for detail now, and I love to explore texts and close in on details, which will help massively in my future. 

Beyond this, I have also developed different writing skills, as my degree has allowed for me to write in many styles, whether through writing scripts, opinion-based essays, blueprints, or critical reflections. 

Critical reflections are also hugely beneficial for my future career – learning to explore my mistakes in detail and write about them has allowed me to see them as a means of growth. It is a skill that is invaluable to me. 

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course? 

Do it! I have never felt more at home. I love my course more than I thought I ever would – the facilities and support at Leeds is incredible, and I have flourished at university.  

The tutors for my degree are so inspiring and I cannot fault them at all. They are all so passionate and are so talented at what they do – it’s awe-inspiring! 

The University of Leeds is the most amazing place, and the English Literature and Theatre degree is bound to set you up with invaluable skills, amazing memories, inspiring tutors, and friends for life.