To DST, or not to DST: that is the question?

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If you have come to university in the hope of getting involved in some great student theatre, you have certainly come to the right place. With one of the biggest and most active student theatre scenes in the country, consisting of 27 theatre companies that stage over 90 shows per year, Durham will provide plenty of opportunities for you to get stuck in. “Whether you’re interested in acting, directing, writing, producing, conducting, tech directing, or set designing, DST welcomes all”, says current president Kim Rana. You do not need to have acting experience in order to audition for plays, neither do you have to have any knowledge of stage lighting and sound to become a tech director. DST is a safe space to develop skills and talents that you did not necessarily have before coming to Durham. With so much going on within DST, it can sometimes seem slightly overwhelming. Here are a few quick tips on how to get involved – it’s very simple!

Go to the Freshers’ Fair. This is probably the best place to really understand what kind of opportunities DST has to offer. All the theatre companies will be represented there so it’s a great place to see what different types of theatre is produced in Durham. It’s also the best place to ask questions, either about the upcoming productions that they may be promoting, or about DST in general.

Attend DST’s Spotlight Information Night on Sunday 7th October at 7pm in CG60 (Chemistry). This is a great opportunity for anyone who is curious about DST to ask questions and meet current members. This is also followed by a Welcome Social at the Library Bar so it’s a great way of meeting new people.

Auditions are advertised on the DST weekly email and on Facebook and are often held in Elvet Riverside. Do not be shy about auditioning – audition for anything and everything you want, rejection is bound to happen but take it in your stride! “Relax and know that the people on the panel have also gone through the same process you’re going through” says Euan Walker, a second year student and member of DST “they understand the stress of it all and just want to bring out the best in you, so instead of putting them on pedestal just see them as your peers with your best interests at heart.”

Directing: Being a director is one of the biggest roles to take on in a production and as a first year student it is easy to think that this is not an accessible role. However, this is not true. Theatre companies holding production team interviews always welcome freshers to apply for directorial roles, and even if you do not feel up to the role of director yet, you can always apply to be assistant director to build up some experience. As a fresher student last year, Isobel Jacob took on the role of assistant director in DULOG’s production of ‘Rent’, producer in DUCT’s production of ‘An Ideal Husband’, and director in DULOG’s production of ‘I Love You Because’. “Get stuck in from the get go!”, she says, “use the freshers’ fair to your advantage and find the opportunities you’re interested in, and then go for it! It can feel like as a fresher you’re at a disadvantage, but that really isn’t true. As long as you get involved with enthusiasm, you’ll fit into DST just fine.”

Producing: The producer’s role is also one which makes up the core of the production. Tasked with booking rehearsal spaces, sourcing props, and overseeing the production process, the role of producer is a demanding but rewarding one. As with directorial roles, there is also the opportunity to become assistant producer if you want to take smaller steps to start with.

Writing: DST not only puts on great productions of well-known plays and musicals, but also heavily encourages new writing. The Durham Drama Festival which takes place every year is the perfect place to get your work out there with a whole week of purely student written theatre performed throughout Durham.

Tech: No play would be complete without tech. It is fundamental to the success of a show and is a great way to get involved in DST. There is also no need to have prior experience or knowledge as DST provides termly training sessions.

All in all, the opportunities to get involved are endless. Be brave and give it a go! You never know where it might lead you.


Photography: Durham Student Theatre

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