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Blog: How I Found Drama St Mary's

Everyone finds their own path through life and when facing the big decisions it can often be a daunting task. To find out more about choosing a University, recent alumnus of the BA Physical Theatre programme at St Mary’s University, Twickenham Christian Anderson has written this blog about finding the right University for him and the path it has set him on. In some ways it has been a battle to find my way into the arts world in the sense that there have been lots of unfriendly challenges along the way. A working class lad from Liverpool who loves nothing more than making theatre; without going into so much detail it is important for me to mention that my interest in the arts was not easy growing up. Don’t get me wrong I have the best and most supportive family, but my ambition, focus and determination was never looked upon kindly. I left school barely able to structure an essay, fortunately for me I discovered the Yellow House Arts charity, a safe haven that immersed me into the world of art and culture, allowing me to thrive through travelling and performance experiences. The Yellow House gave me the concrete foundation and level of experience I needed to get into a highly regarded College, especially for the arts and now a Centre of Excellence. My teacher urged me to come to St Mary's and never really explained why; he just said ‘you will love it there’. He knew me pretty well and I trusted him, so I took his advice and ventured down to London to attend my first audition. I guess visiting University can be daunting at the best of times and then with the added pressure of having to sell yourself in front of a group of strangers really doesn’t help. There is something about St Mary's that you don’t get in many other places, as soon as I walked through the door my fears and scary expectations soon disappeared. My audition went well, but what really sold me was the detailed chat I had with Kasia Zaremba-Byrne, Physical Theatre Programme Director, and really getting to know what the course was all about. Three years later and I left fully equipped with the tools I needed to make a career in theatre. I graduated summer 2015 and three weeks later I was travelling to Germany with my company to perform at the International Physical Theatre festival, shortly after we collaborated with other alumni and put together a Cabaret Extraordinaire as part of the Richmond Arts Festival. I have been involved with the Yellow House Arts Charity for 10 years and over the past 3 years whilst studying at St Mary’s I started to take more responsibility. I became the International representative and as a result managed to travel around the world attending networking events and training programmes. One of the main problems in society today is youth unemployment, not only nationally, but internationally as well. So in November 2015 I attended a training program in Lithuania, we discussed Non- Formal Education and how this can dramatically benefit young people finding employment. The subject matter within projects has always been important to me, but you find even just exploring another country and immersing yourself within a group of diverse people from different countries can be the best education. I remember one time in Poland when I was around 15 years old; I took part in a project called ‘Brothers of United Europe’, along with other young people from Lithuania, Spain, Greece, and Poland. Every night we would sit around a camp fire telling stories, singing songs and playing silly games. It was so simple but yet so memorable. I am currently doing a Marketing internship at St Mary’s; initially I applied for this job role to stay within the University community, I wasn’t ready to leave and wanted very much to stay involved. You notice how it is the same for other students, you see how they stay on to do a Masters or apply for a job like me, and others just stay involved with the social events. University was the best time of my life so why would I want to leave in a hurry and not to mention Twickenham is such a beautiful area, you can see why students decide to stay and live here afterwards. I am so glad I decided to do the internship, not only have I gained so many more skills, but I will gain such a strong platform for further employment. With my marketing skills and theatre degree I plan to move back to Liverpool next July and work full time at The Yellow House, I think there is nothing more rewarding than giving young people the support and skills they need to get an education, job, or just the confidence to make friends. I also plan to go with a group of artists from St Mary’s and take a show on tour to Canada and South Korea, I am extremely excited for the future and none of this would be possible without St Mary’s.    

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