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Theatre Studies Personal Statement

It was reading Antony Sher's 'Year of the King' that convinced me that my love of theatre was more than a hobby. Learning how Sher immersed himself so fully in a role that he could see Richard III in everything opened my eyes to the potential in every character. It's a lesson that I have been fortunate enough to reinforce with numerous visits to the theatre. Living in London, I've attended plays from a young age: I was only four when I went to see Ian McKellen as Hook in 'Peter Pan', a terrifying performance which I still vividly remember. More recently, I have been booking my own tickets, frequently with the discounts I can access as a Mousetrap Projects Representative. In the last year I have enjoyed, amongst others, 'Merry Wives of Windsor' at The Globe and 'Deathtrap' at the Noel Coward.

As well as being a keen audience member I also relish any opportunity to get personally involved with the theatre. My role as Sybil, in 'Daisy Pulls It Off' taught me the importance of time management with three months' worth of nightly rehearsals. Prior to this I took a backstage role in a production of 'Grease' which gave me a feel for the inner workings of a theatre; sourcing and supplying properties, planning stage layouts and keeping a rowdy chorus quiet. I am eager to study further the development of a play, from devising a play right up to the final bows.

The skills I learnt in stage management helped me when the school Drama Society set up a Year 7 Club. I ran workshops on improvisation, script writing, and performing Shakespeare; the club proved so successful that this year it has not only been continued but extended to include the former members, now in Year 8. While leading the Year 7's was a challenge, my leadership skills were pushed even further this summer, teaching a class of forty-two Kenyan children. They were enthusiastic, but as Swahili speakers knew little English. Working around this language barrier by playing games and using physical theatre left me with the conviction that drama is truly universal. Those three weeks in Kenya gave me an understanding of a world outside my own experience; an invaluable gift for any budding drama-student.

Studying Classical Civilisations at A level has also taken me abroad to Greece, where I spent a day at the Theatre of Dionysus. Seeing where plays like 'Lysistrata' were originally performed was incredible and has been invaluable to my work on the play in my A2 drama course. Classics has fed my interest in tragedy, which I have been able to pursue by going to see both 'Oedipus' and 'Phedre' at the National Theatre. I've also read modernisations of both plays: Sarah Kane's 'Phaedra's Love' and Steven Berkoff's 'Greek'. Kane's startling style has caught my attention so I'm going to see 'Blasted' at the Lyric Hammersmith next week and later attend a workshop with its director, Sean Holmes.

Like Classics, studying English Literature has helped me to appreciate the subtleties of a play. Close textual work on 'Measure for Measure' and 'King Lear' has rendered Shakespeare more accessible than I thought possible; and indeed, after reading 'Much Ado About Nothing' at GCSE, I took part in the Shakespeare Schools Festival with the same play. Fired with enthusiasm, I went on to win the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge for Bromley with my speech on 'Underrating Shakespeare', going on to compete in the grand final as one of the top sixteen contestants across London. Consequently I was invited back the following year to judge the Greenwich final, thus developing my critical and evaluative skills.

I have also learnt first-hand from professionals. My time with Neil Bettles from Frantic Assembly was great fun as well as hugely beneficial to my study at A2 drama and my Masterclass with Willy Russell was equally valuable.
Drama plays a central role in my life and I hope to preserve its position with a career in the theatre and dramatic arts: a drama degree is the first step in this direction.

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This personal statement was written by lilianheller for application in 2010.

lilianheller's Comments

I used this personal statement to apply to Warwick, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and East Anglia and got interviews and conditional offers from all of them.

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