Rochyne Delaney McNulty
- Course: MA Performance Design
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I have a background in fine art. My art never really displayed a performative aspect, however it was always at the root of my intentions. I have an interest in climbing, martial arts and circus, this combination of movement based practices helps inform my art and direction. But also helps bring many skills into a project/collaboration.
My practice has developed greatly and even more since starting studying at the University of Leeds. At the moment it combines a sense of storytelling, community building and a touch of risk. I thoroughly enjoy the collaboration process, and am always seeking new prospects.
Recent opportunities such as volunteering with arts festivals in Leeds, collaborating with artists, travelling, holding workshops and directing performances have let me explore a lot of different avenues and interests, as well as seeing the working process of a variety of projects.
I really enjoy travelling, learning about new cultures and practices and acquiring new skills.
What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?
It was a fluke. I spent a few years after I graduated my BA Fine art, then stumbled upon the performance design course. I believe I sent an email to the course lead, Joslin McKinney, and she invited me to come and have a chat. The course seemed to fit perfectly with where my practice was heading. I had minimal knowledge in theatre practices so the field was new, but overlapping with my own.
What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?
I see that a lot of very different practices can overlap, from art to wellbeing to sport. And they can all bring something really vital to the communities that experience them. Through that we can begin to understand and learn more about ourselves and our environment. I think accessibility to art is important as it can be used as a tool for communication, community building, character developing, it can nurture wellbeing and bridge gaps and help in a way other disciplines cannot.
What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed many aspects of the course. But there’s two notable instances; engaging in the contextual discourse; with both staff and students, this challenging environment helped develop some confidence in my own convictions and theories. And also working alongside the technicians, learning how something is constructed from the very start, seeing how logistics, skill and technology all overlap, and having the support of fairly skilled individuals who are all so keen to teach and share knowledge.
What has been the most surprising thing about coming to Leeds?
I surprised myself with how much I got involved with, and there was still more available to me. I also was pleasantly surprised to find that coming back as an older student, that Leeds wasn’t all about the nightlife as I remember.
What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?
The facilities at the stage@Leeds are fabulous. The staff are always on call to help, and have made the learning materials easy to access. I found that the library sometimes had a limited amount of certain books in our field, but the process of gaining access to online materials is easy and the catalogue is extensive.
In terms of finding a good physical space to work; that was a long winded process of exploring many buildings on and off campus, but there’s probably a space suited for everyone.
The external speakers we had the pleasure of listening to were amazing; academics, researchers, artists, cultural organisers and more I fail to remember. The breadth of knowledge and experience was quite inspiring.
What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself?
I took part in the yoga societies sessions fairly regularly. I also joined the mountaineering and climbing society, even though I only joined them on sessions a few times! I did (and still do) visit a climbing wall when I can and then get out climbing when time and the weather allows. On top of this I found exploring the forests around Leeds to be a lovely day off. I went along on my own, but I know that Go out get active hold some great days out.
The LGBT+ society have a fab coffee hour every day, and this was a bit of a sanctuary on busy days.
I also volunteered a little bit with the roof garden; it’s a pretty good way to get some fresh air and meet some new people.
To get along to some shows (for free) at stage@Leeds I often volunteered for the front of house role.
Leeds for life have a great scheme aimed at helping students pursue projects and attend conferences, in 2018 I was lucky to gain the award and that helped me go to Germany, attend an art residency and run some workshops for the local refugees.
I was also the course rep (alongside a fellow student), and health and wellbeing rep within the AHC. These roles gave me the chance to take on a little more responsibility within the University, and try to make a positive impact.
As I mentioned before; there was so many volunteering and collaborating opportunities, a couple that I helped out with that were pretty amazing were Light Night Leeds and Compass live arts festival.
I also pursued my own creative practice; collaborating with the Open Theatre Society on a production and showing a piece on my own using the stage@leeds main theatre space.
Outside of study there’s so much you can get involved with; it really depends on your focus and passions, but I would say; definitely use the time and facilities when you are there.
What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
Be prepared for it to be challenging. Be prepared to work hard and get a lot in return. Be engaged, make things, and don’t be scared to fail. Ask for help if you need it.
This course doesn’t seem to have a blueprint, a typical student or predefined course of action. You will make of it what you bring to it, so if you have a passion or drive that you want to explore within the realms of performance, art, theatre, society, culture, community or anything that lies in between, this could be a great step to developing and realising that.
What do you plan to do now you’ve finished your course, and how do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed at Leeds will help with these plans?
I have many plans up in the air. But to start; I will go and work and collaborate at the Prague Quadrennial in June, and then visit the Venice Biennale. From there I plan to engage with art residencies and develop my practice. Research will also be a part of my process; I may look to a PhD in the future.
I have just started working with a mental health charity involved with climbing so I hope to develop that relationship and help the charity grow.
Ultimately I would like to combine my desire to travel, willingness to learn and teach, passion to make things and interest in collaboration to help spread a good message and help people see things in a more holistic way.