University, Worth It?

Oliver Bray, 5 October 2012

The following conversation is not a verbatim transcript. It is an embellished representation of a discussion written as a flavour of the points raised by an interesting dozen of people.

- worth it?...No.

- all but one of us here went to university

- I went to university but I didn't study theatre, it's really interesting to me that the language that people who have studied theatre use can be quite alienating

- I didn't go at all

- a university is another kind of community, communities have language, within a community the discourse should be enabling rather than alienating

- are we talking about Universities, or Drama Schools

- Universities

- Universities don't train people

- some do

- depends what you mean by training

- if there is training it should definitely be diverse

- really?

- maybe...

- there's a perception that university courses are prescriptive, they aren't

- they can be

- worth it? No.

- of course academics hide behind language, I'm an academic and even I find it frustrating

- graduate......ness

- ridiculous

- should university courses be wide-ranging or specialised

- you're generalising

- I think there is certainly an argument that universities should be shaping the wider cultural landscape

- that discussion is for after lunch

- the university is just another community of practice

- join the club

- I didn't, and I think that's okay

- so do we (do we?)

- after all, university doesn't suit everyone

- people learn in different ways

- but universities should cater for that

- is learning at a university a formula, is it the same everywhere?

- no, and it never should be

- is it going that way though?

- its in danger of it, we are at the start of a new world, the beginning of something.

- there is a danger of imposed regimentation, universities need to have the freedom of flexibility. To do things their way.

- we'll have to see

- worth it? No.

- going to university to study theatre is buying knowledge

- going to university to study theatre facilitates the expansion of useful professional networks

- going to university to study theatre is one way of finding out what you would have found out if you hadn't gone.

- the fees have changed everything

- let's not talk about the fees

- you brought it up

- university applicants have a much greater sense of the ‘market’ than ever before

- perhaps that's a good thing

- university stops you experiencing real life

- yeah, its great

- does it stop you working out who you are?

- its part of you working out who you are...

- it can be part of that

- it can be.

- for most its a piss up

- yeah, its great

- worth it? No.

- you apply at 17 years old, no one knows what they want at that age

- people would benefit from going later in life

- the university need to support students through their inevitably changing interests

- university is about more than knowledge acquisition

- training?

- no.......sometimes

- fees?....sorry

- without any theatre courses at universities, would there be any theatre?

- yes

- yes, but it wouldn't be as diverse

- yes, but it would be on the fringe

- yes, the bohemians would still meet up

- drama schools forge links with the industry, universities don't

- some do

- hmmm, employability, that's a biggie

- is it a university agenda, should it be?

- it is, but there are a great range of courses out there, all offering different things

- but lots of them don't give student the precise skills they need

- how can they, you can't be all things to all people

- perhaps there's a way of designing courses that allow distinct flexibility and change

- like gaming?

- like gaming.

- “Call of Duty: BA (Hons) Theatre Ops”

- worth it?

- worth a shot.


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Comments: 1

Leonie Rae Gasson, 5 March 2014

Having been a student of both Theatre Studies and a more ‘traditional’ course I think it is worth highlighting what is said about different people having different needs. Personally the course I do was very carefully chosen as it gives me a lot of flexibility to study both academically and practically, learning about my craft from many angles and giving me a useful way to discuss what I'm seeing and making. Having started the course naively arrogant about what I thought theatre was and having an undying love for Chekhov I now focus more on performance art and have been exposed to many different styles and theories that I would not have had the privilege of being exposed to otherwise. The course gave me the opportunity to have a drastic change of heart about naturalism and ‘the classics’ and pursue this new avenue whole-heartedly in written and practical work. University has taught me a lot but just as importantly it has revealed how much I don't know and has inspired me to keep learning and challenging myself. It has also put me in contact with people from very different areas and cultural backgrounds that don't necessarily have any interest in theatre or performance but it has made me question how we represent different people on stage and make theatre engaging for completely different groups. I left my first University only a year in and was convinced that University was totally wrong for me and saw several posts like the one above, and I

was discouraged from reapplying. But eventually I found an environment that suited me and helped me articulate what I felt about theatre as well as make better work. For me that environment happened to be a University, for others perhaps not, but ‘Worth it?’ it was still a question I needed to answer for myself seriously, and in more than a word.