Headshot of student

Samantha Willets

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

Something which drew me to the course was the flexibility in modules. I really liked how you were able to explore different avenues within any module and tailor your own experience of the degree. I have found that this is true and have tailored the course to develop skills in technical theatre and directing which are my two biggest passions. 

I was also drawn to Leeds University as it offered the city environment while still being contained on a campus. Especially studying Theatre, Leeds is such a great city as there is so much culture and art which I have found to have had a huge influence on what I have created on the course. Going to watch plays is one of my favourite things and in Leeds it is so affordable to do this regularly as there is so much great work being created within walking distance and most with amazing student offers. 

What aspects of the course do you enjoy the most?  

I have loved the performances projects which occur every year. Each year you get to develop a different skill and I think that is what has benefited me most in terms of exploring the avenues in theatre and also preparing me to work within the industry. I have gained skills in stage management, company management, lighting design, set design and so much more all whilst working with a group of amazing people who share the same passion. 

Please tell us about the AHC Berkofsky award you received.

I received the AHC Berkofsky award this year to make my own short film. I have always loved film and theatre, and I wanted to work to blend these two passions. I am going to be working collaboratively with a group of creatives, taking techniques from devised theatre work and bringing that devising to life through the medium of film. 

What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general? Thinking particularly about your most recent experience and the transition to digital learning and support.

The learning facilities in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries are brilliant, particularly the technical team. They all provide so much support throughout the year and have taught me so much about working in a functioning theatre. With stage@Leeds I have been involved with putting on productions as a part of my course as well as with societies and external companies. I have learnt how to build set and put up lights, and so much more. 

This support has continued within the global pandemic, and although I have not been physically on campus for a semester there has been a smooth transition to online. Giving workshops in video and sound editing which has not only been brilliant for the course assessments but for future developments. The theatre industry has changed so much in the past year and these digital technical skills are now sought after as it is how companies are making their work. 

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

I have loved taking part in societies at Leeds. I have of course been involved in the Theatre societies, putting on multiple shows with Open Theatre both acting, producing and assistant directing. More recently I have produced an online play over Zoom with Theatre Group which has been amazing and exciting to see the possibilities of what these new platforms can bring. Putting on productions with societies has been the best part of my University experience and it is where I have made all my best friends. I have also taken part in dance societies, including Modern Dance, Dance Sport and Ballet which I have really enjoyed. I also am involved with Leeds Student Radio and host a Breakfast show every Thursday morning which has been amazing. 

Through societies I have met the most amazing people which led to me producing two shows externally throughout my time at Leeds which really tested my skills and were such great learning experiences.

Did you take a work placement or study abroad year? If so, how did you find this experience and what have you gained from it?

I did a study abroad in Toronto, Canada. The range of options for study abroad was a big reason for choosing to study at Leeds. While in Canada I studied film and had the best year of my life. I was able to learn about film, which before this point had only been a hobby. I also volunteered at film festivals, worked in a theatre, joined lots of societies while meeting people from all over the world and got to travel in my free time. I gained so much valuable experience from my study abroad, including some great contacts, and made some of my best friends.

What do you plan to do now you’ve/when 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 know that I want to work in the theatre or film industry and cannot wait to start working. I feel I have gained so much from my university experience and have so many great skills which I can apply to a variety of jobs in the future.