Drama and English Studies

June 2012

Where did you Study?

The University of the West of England, Bristol. It may have been an old polytechnic but it’s not just an old Andersen shelter where illiterate people try and recite poems and get drunk on cider and black (which was the view of some). Come to think of it, that actually might have happened on the Gloucestershire campus – they were a little more primitive up there.

What did you Study?

Drama and English BA (Hons) – and loved every minute of it.

What year did you Graduate?

2009

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Oh God…erm…how to appear modest…haha! No,to be honest, I’d say: Short, dark, unconventional.

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

It was a mixture of a lot of things, really. I remember crying quite a lot, actually. Well, it was such a range of different emotions – I was elated to have finished, but sad to leave it all behind. In a way, I was lucky because I went straight into a number of projects: I was directing and acting in a number of productions at the Edinburgh Fringe and also rehearsing a main supporting role for a play which toured the UK and abroad for a year so that kept me busy…and my mind off life outside Uni!! But there were times in between where I did feel a bit lonely, scared, and at a loss. I had a few odd jobs (one working in a book shop so at least it used my degree in a minor capacity) and continued to act, but for little money.

What are you doing now and how long do you see yourself doing it for? Are you in your dream job? If not yet, what is this?

I’ve taken a terrifying leap and turned self-employed…and let me tell you, it’s hard! For starters, you never know if it will work from week to week, if you’ll have enough to live on, and people do judge you, unfortunately. One of the main reasons for this choice is that I have an agent in London and could get work at any time so finding a ridiculously flexible job is difficult! Still in Bristol but hoping to move to London for more opportunities and to be closer to my agent and contacts. I am also a writer and as well as contributing to cultural/theatre websites and blogs, I have recently been creating scripts for theatre companies, the BBC, Sky Arts, Radio 4, and London theatres – but it’s hard to find those people who have the money to commission me. Still, in a way, I am doing what I love – I would call it my dream job – and wouldn’t want to do anything else so hope I can grow and grow within my chosen profession. I haven’t really had ‘the break’ I need yet though so perseverance, ambition, energy, and passion will hopefully get me through…

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

I think Uni helped me to be the person I am now – or at least, improved certain characteristics and skills. It did teach me a lot and gave me a huge amount of confidence and many opportunities along the way so for that, I am very grateful. In many ways, Uni did help me to get to where I am now as I still use contacts I made there and often collaborate with friends/contemporaries on various projects. It helps to develop you as a person and individual and is invaluable in teaching you how to be independent, sociable, creative, and well-rounded.

Saying that, it doesn’t seem to prepare you for the real world, not really. After you graduate, it seems they push you out of a plane and forget to attach the parachute. So, then it is sort of up to you – there’s lots of support out there but ultimately, you are calling the shots. It can be terrifying.

Any advice for graduates who aren’t yet in their dream jobs or still battling against this rubbish economy for just an interview?

Firstly, remember, we’re all in the same boat. I know it’s still depressing but you’re not alone in this. It is a particularly stressful and tense time in this country at present and the jobs aren’t there, they just aren’t. Build up and write a decent CV, go for jobs that either: you like, can tolerate, pay enough to foot the bills and your food allowance, or (if you’re lucky enough) you are skilled in or fall within the type of job you want to do full time.

Don’t be scared to ask for help or support, there are many places and people that you can turn to. Interviews are very hard to get hold of so apply everywhere and keep doing so every week; be prepared, punctual, talk passionately, look smart, make your mark. These may seem simple things, but you’d be surprised how many people overlook them. Watch out when working for free too – it’s OK sometimes but don’t get exploited.

You must have the enthusiasm, the work ethic, and the ambition to succeed, especially if it’s a dream job – do everything you can to get it! From internships and apprenticeships to specialist courses and training, try and make yourself as impressive a candidate you can. Beware: it may take a very long time – make sure you can support yourself financially but if you want it enough and have the skills and right attitude, it will come to you.

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

I have a very interesting week ahead, actually – a mixture of reviewing theatre in Bristol and Bath, finishing a script based on the UK 2011 riots for the Royal Court in London, and starting rehearsals for the Greek tragedy ‘Trojan Women’, which I’m doing at the Edinburgh Festival for an entire month in August…so time to begin channeling my inner warrior…

That’s it. Adam Elms, you have been wonderful.

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