My name is Em Barrett and I am just about to graduate with a BA (Hons) degree in Writing, Directing and Performance from the University of York. Whilst at York, I have performed in over 20 shows ranging from the all-singing-all-dancing show 'A Chorus Line' to the darker and more intricate 'Pomona' by Alistair McDowall. It is safe to say, I have had THE BEST experiences at University, playing parts I would never usually get the chance to perform and pushing myself trying to hit the high notes in shows like 'Heathers' and the iconic 'Anything Goes'! In my second year, I took on the role of Internal Vice-Chair for the University's Musical Theatre Society (CHMS), encouraging people with little experience to perform with confidence and excitement; this was something I found to be an incredibly rewarding process.
I still so much left to learn to prepare me for the Musical Theatre industry. I applied to Drama School to really hone my skills, take my sheer passion and construct it into something marketable that I can build into a career.
The MA Musical Theatre course at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama only takes twelve people per year. The school is hugely successful and has produced an incredible list of Alumni who continue to work successfully in the industry today such as Anthony Hopkins and Eve Myles. The course holds modules in Acting, Singing, Vocal skills and Movement and Dance – all areas of the industry that I am extremely keen to learn more about. At the end of this one year course, I will undertake a professional production that agents will be invited to and will be an opportunity to exhibit my newly acquired skills with the hope of getting industry representation.
Why I need this course
I have found that theatre and singing specifically is the only way I find I can fully express myself, nothing else allows me to let loose like playing someone else and telling a story on stage.
At Royal Welsh, I will not only undertake classes in vocal skills that will help develop my voice both musically and expressively, but I will also get the opportunity to attend dance classes every day. I feel dancing is the area that I need to work on most so taking intense classes in Jazz, Ballet and Movement each day will ensure I get the individual attention on technique that I need to attend auditions for shows after graduating. Auditions after graduation after difficult to be put forward for unless you have agent representation. Open auditions come up very rarely, so I would be relying on my agent to suggest me to different companies.
At the heart of all Musical Theatre is storytelling. The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama is well known for their vital emphasis on acting in Musical Theatre so taking acting classes led by some of the country’s best tutors will be absolutely vital in the progression of my career.
Not only will Royal Welsh help develop my skills as a performer but it will also give me the tools and confidence to move into the industry as a theatre practitioner. I want to be able to create my own work as well as perform in new and classic musicals. Becoming an accomplished practitioner will allow me to work in all aspects of the industry, giving me a rounded experience of theatre.
At the end of the course, Royal Welsh provides a platform for students to perform in front of agents with a final showcase in both Cardiff and London. This will be a crucially important start to my career as agents will be able to put me forward for auditions and castings etc. Without the credit of having studied at Royal Welsh, this will be extremely difficult. Productioncompanies favour performers for auditions that have the backing of an institution like Royal Welsh on their CV.
Money Money Money is so funny (In a rich man’s world)
Drama schools are notorious for their high tuition fees, however with that comes incredible tuition. Here is a small break down of how much going to Royal Welsh will cost:
Tuition Fees: £14,195
Rent (Including Bills): £122.50 p/w = £5,145
Unfortunately, my parents are unable to help cover the whole cost of those fees. I currently work 18 – 26 hours per week in between working on my dissertation and working on other shows to be able to live at university now and will get myself a part-time job in Cardiff to help cover extra costs such as books, dance gear and sheet music.
Luckily, the government have just introduced funding for Masters Programmes which I am eligible for. I can also apply for a Career Development Loan which I am not guaranteed but will hopefully get. The problem with a Career Development Loan is that as a bank loan, I will need to begin paying it back with interest as soon as I graduate; this is not viable for me. On top of my debt from my BA degree (see below) I will already be paying back a huge sum of money every month. I am aiming to get a small amount of Career Development Loan so the repayments are not as crippling as the full whack. It is just not realistic to think I could take out all this loan and then go straight into the industry that this course will prepare me for. Hence why I am aiming to fundraise as much as possible. Below is my estimated income for the course:
Student Loan: £10,000
Career Development Loan: £4000
Total Income: £14,000 (Just about covers tuition fees)
Although I have looked at many options from different funding bodies, I am still left £11,500 short of my projection. And that added onto my current debt from my BA degree…
Student Loan BA: £27,000
Maintenance Loan BA: £7,000
Student Loan MA: £10,000
Career Development Loan: £4000
After waiting since the age of 18 to be accepted into a drama school, I am sure you can imagine the excitement when I opened the letter from Royal Welsh. These opportunities do not present themselves very often. Sondheim once said ‘opportunity is not a lengthy visitor’ so I intend to grab this one before it passes by. But I can’t do that without your help.
No matter how small or large the donation, I will be forever thankful. I will ensure I keep you up to date with everything that is going on, invite you to all my shows at Royal Welsh and when possible meet up for a coffee and a chin wag!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. It’s been a long read but as you can see, I feel incredibly passionate about this career path and would be eternally grateful for your help with achieving this.
Thank you again,