Portrait of Cheuk Yan Chan

Cheuk Yan Chan

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I am an international student from Hong Kong. I studied my undergraduate degree in Social Work at the University of Hong Kong, and I have been working as a social worker for two years before I started my MA Applied Theatre and Intervention at the University of Leeds. All these experience developed my interest in using arts and theatre in a community setting to explore the possibility of expressions and ideas from the participants.

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

I gained not only knowledge but also chances of working with people as a social worker from my undergraduate course and my previous work experience, and then I developed my own interests in applied theatre. Therefore, I decided to have undergo further study so that I can obtain better understandings and apply things I learned into practice. I believe that equipping myself with professional knowledge and practices combining my hobby would help in overcoming the difficulties when encountering different people.

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

Working with people has been my life and career goal, I believe that the connection and affection among people make changes. Therefore, I am eager to explore how theatre can build up such linkages among different people, and I know it’s a powerful one as a wide range of participation is ‘workable’ within the applied theatre context.

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most? 

Being a facilitator during Love Arts Festival, Leeds, and the self-directed practices provided me a chance to face and express myself through communicating with colleagues and planning workshops, which inspired me a lot as everyone contributed in different ways leading to productive outcomes. On the other hand, practicing and rehearsing for the workshop was a pleasure and the process always helped me to reflect on herself. Therefore, the collaborations with others would be the most beautiful and memorable moments from my MA that would always encourage me in difficult times.

What has been the most surprising thing about coming to Leeds?

I haven’t been to Leeds before I came here for my postgraduate degree, so everything is new to me. The most surprising thing about Leeds is the accessibility of basically everything in this city, not only the university is only a short walking distance from the city centre, but also a wide range of art and cultural event venues scattered in the city that you can go and see, or even participate.

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

The School of Performance and Cultural Industries provides rooms and facilities as well as equipment for rehearsing, practicing and even some study groups. The campus infrastructures and databases online are constantly developing and improving, which is helpful for us to study both in campus and off campus. Meanwhile, there is a good balance between social and study spaces which is accessible for everyone, so we can decide to have a little break between classes.

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

As a student we regularly receive emails about different opportunities and events coming up in Leeds or some nearby cities. I had the opportunity to work with the Love Arts Festival, an event that is held in the Leeds City Museum, which offers students to have a chance to have a taste in facilitating a workshop. I also got a chance to support an elderly group for their promotion and publicity work, and I went to their rehearsals as well, so I found it very useful to see how the groups work in reality by different facilitators.

In addition to these, the University has some awards and funding available for students to apply during their study. I was successful in applying for the Leeds for Life funding by the Footsteps Funds for a project that I can apply the knowledge I learned from my MA to facilitate workshops, as well as to work as a coordinator to encourage knowledge exchange between the Chinese elderly in Leeds and the artists in Hong Kong.

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

After a year studying the MA, I think the course is indeed thorough and wide-ranging, especially on the theories and concepts, as well as those workshops by guest facilitators (they were superb!), but you would also need to figure out what you would want to work on and explore the opportunities actively if you would like to continue working in the field, because after all networking is the foremost important elements in the field.

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?

After the completion of the course, I am more willing to explore more on the ways on working with different people. At the same time, the MA reminded me mainly on the value and importance of being open and creative while having my practice with care. Therefore, I am eager to be part of some creative projects that are based on specific communities, trying out some new ideas and finding more possibilities on applied theatre and intervention.