Before Drama School
In my final year of living in Malaysia, myself and my peers had been frivolously selecting schools, selecting the best ones based on our education and our desires. Most of my year group had decided many years prior that they would study either engineering or medicine and as a result the universities that would visit would mainly consist of representatives that would show off their scientific faculties that were available. Very few I found had anything to do with acting. It was peculiar to the representatives that I spoke to at the fairs whom had prepared talks about science or some other respected disciplines in the academic fields.
I always got weird looks from people when I said I studied acting for a year they would always say things like good for you or just cut straight to how my life is going to be difficult the second I graduate because most of the time I am going to be working as a waiter, waiting for the phone to ring. Though that in mind I only studied for a year. I went on an intensive foundation course at Drama Centre London.
Studying acting is one of those degrees where many snobbish students whom are studying older and perceived more “respected” degrees, seem to bring up the argument: well that’s not a real degree is it. No. No, it’s not a conventional degree where we spend a majority of our time studying history or politics, I don’t even call it a degree because comparing it to more academic degrees is pointless because it is far from it. I must say when I moved to the UK and began studying acting I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I can say it was by far the most difficult thing I have done in my life.
There was none, well there was very little. When we began our course, we were given this schedule where we were required to be in university every day for hours that usually ran into the late evening. In addition to this, multiple units that we had involved learning a huge number of lines for various plays that we would be studying throughout our time there. This would include Shakespeare and contemporary plays. In addition to this once a week we would perform a monologue of our teachers choosing in front of the entire class. This left our weekends to be full of study as we were not only expected to know about the monologues but also the plays. It became very clear very quickly that this wasn’t a degree where you would mess around a lot, those who did, didn’t last.
This was not the typical University lifestyle most students expect when they begin their course. Where most degrees begin their time at university getting completely blathered over fresher’s week us few at the drama school would be locked away in our dorm rooms every evening memorising lines and studying plays. We would only emerge from our dark rooms with bloodshot eyes from lack of sleep to demand silence from the hordes of other fresher’s partying late into the night. This didn’t so much help my social life at University but what it did give me was a drive for focus and structure in my time.
Partying, its not always with it.
Occasionally I did let loose and enjoy the company of my housemates at a club or a pub but any thoughts of continuing this lifestyle were quickly erased. Trying to perform Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights Dream hungover in front of a chorus of fairies is perhaps one of the my more painful memories of Drama School. Russell Brand talks about it being so easy but I suppose my liver is not as tuned as his. Though the lessons in repetition help me maintain my composure and remember some of my lines even today.
“What hast thou done? Thou hast mistaken quite, And laid the love juice on some true love’s sight.”
Take note that Shakespeare is not a hangover cure.
I learned anything from this experience is that I will do my best to never drink heavily before anything important. I have carried this discipline though my current degree as I refuse to drink before waking up early to go rowing the next day.
Some of the main lessons that drama school teaches you about discipline and focus on what you can achieve. I pushed my limits whilst studying there and learned what I could achieve if I put my mind to it.