- Course: MA Writing for Performance and Publication
- Year of graduation: 2019
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background before studying at Leeds?
I am originally from Canterbury, Kent and come from a working-class background. I have always been creative and constantly filled notepads with stories and poems as a kid. I would often rewrite film plots that lacked female representation and add myself as a character. You could say seven-year-old me was before her time! My love for creative writing continued throughout my childhood and I went on to study BA English and American Literature with Creative Writing at the University of Kent and became the first person in my family to go to university. This was also the first time that I studied creative writing as a serious subject and I absolutely loved it. It opened a whole new world of literature that I did not know even existed.
What made you choose to study at the University?
In my first year at Kent, I had a meeting with my tutor about a short story I had submitted. He told me that my grammar and my spelling was awful, that the story had many plot-holes, but he loved my dialogue. The tutor asked whether I had considered scriptwriting. Before this conversation, I did not even know scriptwriting was a possible career choice! The discussion acted like a catalyst for me as I joined a playwriting group and attended numerous extra-curricular lectures on screenwriting. When I was in my third year, I decided that I wanted to do a master’s and came across the Writing for Performance and Publication course at Leeds. I loved how unique it was and how I had the opportunity to delve into various writing crafts such as radio, theatre, prose writing and screenwriting. I liked how there was an opportunity to evolve my craft as a writer with opportunities to produce practical work in state-of-the-art facilities.
What did you enjoy the most about your course?
I really enjoyed sessions facilitated by guest speakers such as Lisa Holdsworth. It was fascinating to gain an insight into the creative industries and really motivated me to pursue my own work. I loved how well we as a group got on and I made some wonderful friends.
What opportunities/activities were available for students outside of studying and which ones did you take part in?
My play ‘Beneath the Table’ was performed (script in hand) by professional actors at RIFT New Writing Festival which was organised by the school in association with Leeds Playhouse. Being involved in the rehearsals and then seeing my work come to life was an incredible experience and I learnt so much from it. I also made some brilliant contacts that I am still in touch with.
Additionally, I was able to complete a short internship on the ‘Get in!’ project, funded by the university alumnis’ Footstep Fund, when I worked with Bloomin’ Buds which is a Bradford based theatre company. I was involved in creating an outreach performance designed to attract potential applicants from working class and ethnically diverse backgrounds to study Theatre and Performance as undergraduates at Leeds. Successful performance-workshops took place in Leeds, Calderdale and Kirklees. This kickstarted an ongoing working relationship with Bloomin’ Buds which has led to various freelance work opportunities.
What support services were available for students outside of studying?
My tutors and various staff members at the school were often available to provide extra support outside of studying.
What are your fondest memories of your time at Leeds?
I have very fond memories of attending the weekly extra-curricular writing workshops that were led by Sally. Not only were they fun, but I learnt so much from these sessions that I still apply to my writing today.
Moving on to your career, where do you currently work and what is your job title?
I am a freelance writer and theatre-maker. I also work part time in retail.
Can you tell us about your day-to-day role?
Currently, I am developing my first full length play that explores my experiences of having parents in prison. I have recently been awarded a ‘Make Work Grant’ from Bradford Producing Hub and a bursary from Live Theatre Newcastle. I am also working on a play that explores class division and the prison system. So, my role varies each day. Quite often it is spent in front of a computer, replying to emails, zooming with producers, dramaturgs, networking with theatres and companies. If it is a writing day, I will spend the whole day working on my script. I quite often spend my evenings attending online zoom sessions and lectures to improve my craft.
How do you think your degree has helped you to progress in your career? In particular, what skills did you learn and how do you use these in your role/career path?
I would not be where I am today without my degree. It allowed me to network with industry contacts and to kickstart my creative career by giving me invaluable work experience. It also allowed me to develop my craft and motivate me to pursue it further.