16 THINGS DRAMA SCHOOL TAUGHT ME FOR REAL LIFE AND BEYOND

This annoying conversation happens a lot:

Person:

“So where did you go to Uni?”

Me:

“Oh I went to Rose Bruford. It’s a Drama School actually, got a degree in European Theatre. Did lots of stuff from performing, directing, writing etc.”

Person:

 “And now you work in events? Like in a marketing team? That’s weird…”

The reason this conversation really gets my back up, and I dread it in social situations, is because it’s not so weird at all. I learnt a hell of a lot at Rose Bruford that prepared me for the work place/life on a number of levels. I felt like I could conquer the world once I finished there, nothing was too big.

So here’s a list of things that Bruford taught me. And I’m not talking about Lecoq or Grotowski or Kantor. Or even how to take pretty headshots. I’m talking things it generally taught me, about life and work and how to be bad ass.

1. Your energy knows no limits. At Bruford we could put in 14 hour days at a time. So when people moan how tired they are sometimes I’m like, ‘pull yourself together guys, push through it’. Tiredness isn’t a thing until you’re struggling to keep your eyes open.

2. Read everything and anything. Educate yourself as much as you can. There’s a wealth of knowledge that can be acquired by picking up a book. Granted, I don’t have as much time on my hands to read at the moment, but when I do pick up a good book I think of Thomas Wilson and grin.

1_Fotor

3. Look after your body. So yeah okay, I know when I was at Bruford I was pretty much living on a diet of hash browns and I often struggled to get the ‘cat under the gate’ in movement classes. But I understand even more now what they were banging on about when they said to ‘look after your body, listen to it and give it what it needs.’ You only get one. And my diet and exercise has a serious impact on how I function on a daily basis, so it’s important to pay attention to it. I’m not talking about downward dogs on a daily basis, but it’s just something to consider.

4. You snooze, you lose. Basically, don’t half arse things. In the theatre world, if you do a shitty job there will be someone right behind you who will swoop in and do it better. In the words of Eminem ‘You only get one shot..’ Lolz. Give everything 100%, or just don’t bother.

5. No budget? No bother. There was never much budget for any shows/projects we did at Bruford, but this put me in really good stead for the real world. Guess what? There ain’t much money knocking around here either. And when people say to me now ‘Oh we haven’t got the budget for that’, I say ‘So what? Who needs budget?’ Beg, borrow, steal. Do-it-yourself. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. That was the name of the game for ETA, and boy has it paid off.

6. Networking is key. We were constantly being pushed to speak to theatre companies/professionals/directors at Bruford. It used to make me feel a little queasy at times ’cause I’m not the best in social situations, but my gosh I’m grateful for it now. In the real world, life is a networking game. And you only get what you want by communicating with people. Shmooooze them and bat those eyelashes gal.

7. Don’t ever be late. It kinda speaks for itself, but the amount of people that don’t have this basic rule of life installed into them is unreal. At Bruford, if you were late you couldn’t enter the space. I bet if we used that rule in life, people would make much more of an effort to be on time.

8. ‘RIDE THE BEAST’ This beautiful expression was passionately uttered by one of our tutors before a performance in third year. It came out rather unexpectedly as she willed us to give the performance of our lives so far. Bless her. But this wild lady taught me that if you’re passionate about something, then express it. Nothing to be shy about. Passion for something goes a long way.

9. Don’t TALK about it, DO it. Nothing ever comes from talking about stuff. Bruford installed the ‘MAKE IT HAPPEN’ gene into me. Actions speak louder than words.

10_Fotor

10. Take every learning experience as a positive. There were times at Bruford when I would go home and cry and fret and stress because things weren’t going how I wanted them to go. I’m a control freak by nature (and I wonder how I ended up in events?!) But I soon learnt that when things went wrong, THAT was when the learning experience happened. If everything always went as I first expected, gee life would be boring. I learnt to take every outcome as a positive. Heck, I now work in marketing, of course everything has a positive spin.

11. Be curious. Never stop asking questions. It’s the only way you learn.

12. You are the brand. I remember really clearly a lecture we had in our third year of Bruford with Rupert Dannreuther about selling yourself. It all seemed really silly back then – ‘You are the brand. Be clear about who you are and what you do.’ He made us write down our names and three things that summed ourselves up. At the time, I jotted down:

Jade Withrington

Creative Person | Doughnut Eater |Pirate Lover

So I might not have been taking it quite as seriously as some, but it’s something that’s really stuck with me over the past two years. It’s so important to be clear and concise about who you are. And I’ve worked on it since then, and you’ll be pleased to know it’s not quite as silly as that now.

13. Don’t rely on technology. Despite the rise of ipads/tablets/smart phones, we were always encouraged to use good old fashioned pen and paper to make notes. The reason for this? Because technology can fail you, and then what you gonna do? I still live by this at work. Give me hard copies over digital any day.

3_Fotor

14. ‘Just play’. So you ETA’s will know that this phrase haunted us for the full three years, but like seriously, some of the best ideas come when you’re relaxed, mucking about and throwing silly ideas round the table. And this can be applied to the rehearsal space or the office.

15. Speech Please. Before Bruford, there was only one other time I had to get up in front of a large group of people and do something that wasn’t acting. This was a music recital and I literally pooped my pants. At Bruford I had to read out seminar papers in front of large audiences (after performing, sweaty and all that). It was something I truly worked at, because “I didnt wanna look like a twat in front of everyone.” – End quote, Jade Withrington, 2015. (ETA’s, that one’s for you) But on a serious note, public speaking is one of those transferable skills that I now have with me for life, and I’ll continue to work at.

16. Take risks. Be brave. Some of the best things happen when you throw caution to the wind and do something that could go either way. Taking risks can open up new opportunities and potential success. And if it goes wrong, please refer to point number 10.

Basically, what I’m tryna say is, Bruford made me into a multi skilled machine that was ready to take on any kinda job I wanted, whether that was in theatre or not. And yes, some of those skills I use more than others – project management, people skills, public speaking – all the time. Headstands, biomechanics and comic timing – not so much. But I’m seriously grateful for all the awesome things I got out of that place.

And now I’m reminiscing about my three years there WAH.

In the words of Thomas Pickles:

Bruford bosses it

8_Fotor

*The photos of Bruford aren’t my own. Can’t find the original source where I nabbed ’em from I’m afraid.

28 Comments

  1. Lyn Ewers
    9th July 2015 / 3:15 pm

    WOW that is powerful stuff Jade, even at my ripe old age, I’m gonna read that over & over again, well done. Lyn. XX❤️❤️❤️❤️

    • Steven Dykes
      9th July 2015 / 11:34 pm

      Brilliant stuff from the wonderful ETA. Great ethos! And this stuff never stops being true. Thanks for the reminder.
      Steven Dykes

    • min
      11th July 2015 / 12:13 am

      I realized I’ve forgotten so many things. I also quit my acting career. Never thought about appying those wisdoms that I gained from my drama school into my teaching job.
      Wish you all the best. Thank you for inspiration.

  2. Matt Daines
    9th July 2015 / 4:13 pm

    Ditto Ditto Ditto !

    • 9th July 2015 / 4:56 pm

      Good to hear you’re in agreement Matt ??

  3. Samantha
    9th July 2015 / 4:15 pm

    Thank you Jade. Really instilled in my why I’m going back after a year out and given me new fire to “ride the beast” that is ETA

    • 9th July 2015 / 4:55 pm

      Thanks for the lovely comment Samantha, so good that you’re heading back to finish! You won’t regret it ☺️

  4. Jo Rogers nee West. Stage Management 1998 (eek, I'm old!)
    9th July 2015 / 6:12 pm

    Totally agree, I left Rosie B a staggering 17 years ago and put my whole career down to those life lessons learnt in the thick of things while my school friends at other unis were dragging themselves out of bed for three hours of lectures per week. We are made of sterner stuff. Forever Bruford x

    • 9th July 2015 / 6:34 pm

      Yes yes yes to this!! Thank ever so much for the comment Jo. Do you mind me asking how you made your way to this post? I’m intrigued! X

      • Jo Rogers
        9th July 2015 / 6:43 pm

        An awesome alumna from 98 posted it on her FB page 🙂 the only thing you missed out was the training to work in fifth gear when needed, I can’t stand by and watch someone stuff envelopes at a snails pace when we’re in a rush, it drives me mad!

  5. 9th July 2015 / 7:24 pm

    Good work, Jade – in the present climate, something that needs saying. I’ll post a link to the FB drama teachers’ forum for you. They will love it. (Don’t think we met,but I taught there from 1981 – 2011)

    • 9th July 2015 / 7:50 pm

      Thanks for the comment Julian ☺ glad to hear you liked the read. Crazy how many people are viewing this!

    • Anne Robertson
      13th July 2015 / 4:31 pm

      I remember you Julian. I was on TTA 92-94!!
      I reognised a lot of this. We had a slightly different set of skills drummed into us on the tech course but whatever I have done since then has definitely been underpinned by my time there. Especially the ability to keep going through the sleep barrier, to organise the sh*t out of everything and to do it at speed.

  6. Stuart Burgess
    9th July 2015 / 8:07 pm

    Great article. Found myself nodding along to all the points (especially about the budget!). Bruford really helped to install a sense of the outside theatrical world for me, and helped prepare me for it, thanks in large part to it’s emphasis on practical rather than theoretical projects. As you say “Don’t talk about it, Do it!” Thanks Rosie B!

  7. Sarah Bell
    9th July 2015 / 8:29 pm

    I also went to Rose Bruford. I’m now a very successful Drama teacher and Head of Creative Arts Faculty….I am currently trying to get people to sign a petition to stop the government abolishing The Arts. It’s a devastating blow and we need to stand together.

  8. Jo Street
    9th July 2015 / 10:02 pm

    all spot on

  9. 10th July 2015 / 8:53 am

    I went to Bretton Hall – in a job interview on Tuesday I was asked what I thought the link was between the role and my Theatre and Performance degree. I explained a lot like you did, and to my surprise they totally agreed and said some of the best Project Managers and Account Managers they knew had been to Drama School. We’re taking over the world – just like we always knew we would.

  10. 10th July 2015 / 12:04 pm

    Great positive post about arts qualifications and life skills!

  11. Catherine Nash
    10th July 2015 / 5:18 pm

    I completed the ETA course in 2006 as a very mature student! Rose Bruford is the most amazing place and I had very talented classmates. It was the best three years of my life, especially 3 months spent in Barcelona. I want to thank you for reminding me what the course gave me. Now in my fifties, it still feels like all the learnt skills are with me and I need to ‘ride the beast’ again! Many thanks.xx

  12. Nichola MacEvilly
    10th July 2015 / 11:27 pm

    Congrats on the article Jade! I’m BA Acting Class 2002. Over 10 years working as an actress now and I think about that place almost everyday I’m performing. Fantastic training – the sort that stays with you throughout your career, grows with you. Rigorous and timeless. 1, 3, 4, 7 and 8 on your list had me nodding my head off in agreement. It took me a few years to really learn the significance of 12 and 16, but now I’m all over those bad boys. Our careers are lifelong journeys that mature over time … Rosie B really prepared me for this crazy journey. Thanks for reminding us how lucky we were to have gone there.
    Keep up the great work.
    Nichola (Ireland)

  13. 11th July 2015 / 8:22 am

    I was on the stage management course (left in 1988 -eek!). Totally agree with everything you said – the course set me up for life. I now run my own successful event management agency and I use the skills and lessons I was given by Rose Bruford’s every day

  14. 11th July 2015 / 12:04 pm

    Another ex-Rosie B gal here (Theatre Arts degree – left 1992) and I totally agree with you. My own path has eventually led me into writing and editing, but I literally wouldn’t be doing this without everything I learned and experienced at Rose Bruford. Different times and different tutors, perhaps, but the ethos was the same. I spent some of the best years of my life there and the life and career benefits I gained completely outweigh any of the bad days (which probably weren’t really that bad – I was just being overly dramatic – hey, it was my job at the time). .:) Read about your post on FB, by the way.

  15. Jo Cole
    11th July 2015 / 11:39 pm

    Good words. I was in the same year as Claire Wallace and left in 1988. I have worked in theatre, tv, events and ceremonies. Still do. I kicked against Rosie B ways sometimes – Phil W and Julian B may remember my tantrums but it taught me a lot and gave me the best friends anyone could wish for, that still endure. I could have done without Sidcup but Deptford was fun. I always give the Rosie B students who come on various work placements pref treatment. We called it Gloria Bumfords Academy for Gells. And god we loved a march and a strike . Thanks xx

  16. 13th July 2015 / 7:19 am

    Thanks for this Jade. I trained at Rose Bruford and think about those three years a lot. Still acting, still Riding The Beast.

  17. 17th July 2015 / 7:33 am

    Reblogged this on andyjukes and commented:
    I have never reblogged before. So, let’s see what happens. I came across this article and, although aspects of it jar a little with my fluffy world view, I like it. I used to be a drama teacher. My son wants to go to Drama School. I have spent a good deal of my life defending the Arts. Arguing for the value of Drama against more “important”, “practical”, “useful” subjects. Trying to explain to parents why Drama would be a great thing for their child to study. Wish I had had access to this short article ….

  18. Elizabeth
    18th July 2015 / 9:04 am

    Hi,
    This is a brilliant article! I did the theatre design course at Bruford and loved every minute of it! I totally agree that Bruford is a great college and sets you up for life- our course taught us very similar skills and a hardworking approach to everything! I am now an exhibition designer, collaborating with people in marketing- a similar work process to those at Bruford with ETA! It was great reading this!

  19. tina salkeld
    25th July 2015 / 9:15 am

    That’s brilliant advice I know you’re going to go a long way