Portrait of Isobel Algar

Isobel Algar

Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background etc?

I was born and raised in London and came to study at Leeds University straight after college aged 18.

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

I liked the options the course offered me in the world of theatre, and the opportunity to figure out my place in it. If I’m honest, I was really into lots of bands as a teenager and I always saw Leeds on the tour schedules. I wanted a change, I’d lived in London my whole life, and figured Leeds could be the place for me. I felt like in Leeds there were real opportunities to meet people and make an impact by making theatre.

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

I feel like the skills I am cultivating by making theatre give me a way of thinking about the world that can really bring joy to people.

What aspects of the course do you enjoy the most? 

The opportunity to make my own work. In my enterprise project module, I applied for and got some funding through the organisation ‘Grow Wild’ to make a project bringing together my love for immersive theatre and the natural world, which is really exciting!

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

Leeds has something for everyone. Looking past the student bubble to slightly more hidden parts of the city is one of the best things you can do. There is a chance for everyone to find a community, or place to be, and the city is the size that you can find them if you look in the right places. 

What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?

The fact that the School is based in stage@Leeds, the University's working public theatre is such a gift, it makes all the facilities that much more applicable beyond the course and campus. Even within the structure of the course learning in a working theatre is so great. You can see how things work practically, then find a book on some niche part of it in the libraries which are so special too because they have a ridiculous number of books and resources. 

Have you taken part in any activities outside of your studies (e.g. student societies, course rep, student intern, local groups/initiatives)?

In my first year I started creating immersive theatre events with my collective HalliGalli, which was, and still is, just blind-dumb fun and opened lots of doors for me in terms of the kind of theatre I wanted to make. In my third year, I started organising the Leeds group of Extinction Rebellion and joined the Green Action society, which I wish I had done sooner. It is a student run cooperative, with a package free shop in the union. Sometimes as a student it can feel a bit disempowering to look at everything theoretically, so engaging with the planet actively has been really important to me. I’ve also found a beautiful, non-judgemental and supportive community at Rainbow Junktion Food Waste café in All Hallows Church. It is run by the Real Junk Food Project and offers pay as you feel meals to the people of Hyde Park all made from perfectly good food that would have otherwise been thrown away by supermarkets! Meeting all the people I have through these things has really grounded me in Leeds and shown me what I truly value.

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

Don’t let anyone tell you what route to take, or even what routes there are. Try everything and make your own way. Theatre and Performance is what you make it.

Tell us about your accommodation and your experience of living in Leeds.

I found a much happier home when I relaxed! I think you find a better place to live if you really think about what you want from your home and don’t get caught up in the student rent panic that happens every January. And, to new students, consider living somewhere other than Hyde Park, rents are usually cheaper and you get more for your money.

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

Talk to new people every day, that I can do for sure.