Why did you choose to study Drama and Theatre Studies?

Theatre has been the overarching interest of my time in higher education, so I was very happy and grateful to be able to continue my studies here at the University of Birmingham. Experiencing live storytelling alongside a community of other spectators is what continues to draw me towards theatre and theatre studies. On a personal level, this thrilling feeling never seems to expire, and academically speaking it opens a gateway to understanding, engagement, community and empathy. Whichever way you look at it, there always seems to be more you can see in or say about live theatre, and so I felt—and still feel—that it remains a very worthwhile and important field of study.

Why did you choose to undertake research at the University of Birmingham?

A number of factors encouraged me to pursue my research at the University of Birmingham. Generally speaking, the University has some really great facilities: the Main Library, and especially its dedicated Researchers’ suite, is a fantastic place to work, and the Graduate School at Westmere has been indispensable as both a workspace and a social hub. The Drama and Theatre Arts (DTA) department itself has such a wide range of specialisms among its faculty that I knew it would be a great environment for finding my feet as a researcher. One of my favourite workspaces is the Orchard Learning Resource Centre (OLRC), which is directly opposite DTA and conveniently houses the University’s drama and theatre library collection. Beyond the University, Birmingham has an exciting theatre scene and is well connected to other cities, including London, and so it just felt like the perfect fit.

What are the best things about your course?

The support and encouragement I’ve received from my supervisory team has really helped me make the most of my time here, and I’ve been able to develop my interests organically. One of the things I value most about the department is its commitment to both practice-based and traditional routes for postgraduate research, which provides an exciting and varied PGR community. I’ve particularly enjoyed our PG research seminars, which have helped both to maintain a sense of feeling a part of this community (even while working from a distance!), and also to create links with other members of the faculty and with researchers from other institutions.

What support have you received during your PhD?

My supervisory team have been really supportive throughout my course, and their encouragement and advice for keeping a balance between research activity and my own time has been especially important. The University’s wellbeing team have also been helpful in providing support and tips for looking after my mental health, which, after the last year or so, has been pretty invaluable!

Outside of your research, what experience have you gained and how will it help you in the future?

Doubting your own abilities is something we all do, but doing a research degree can easily make this type of thinking the everyday default. One of the skills that I’m most proud of gaining over my time so far is the ability to turn that habitual anxiety into self-trust; I’ve learned to recognise the validity of my own insights and experience, rather than discount them. This has helped massively with my networking and communication skills, which has positive benefits both for my research and beyond!