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From Year Out Drama to Drama School

'Beckett Unplugged'. Directed by Adam Fotheringham.

A BLOG BY MAISY FUGGLE 

As I sit down to write this, I have returned home for the summer having just completed my first year on the BA Acting Course at Rose Bruford College. When I left school in 2020, I never would have guessed I would be in the position I am now and it is thanks to finding my 18 year old self in Stratford-Upon-Avon as a member of Year Out Drama, that I am training for the career I have always dreamed of.

During my final year at school I was undergoing the traditional academic pressure to have a plan, know where I was going and have a place confirmed. Of course, the nature of drama school auditions very rarely allow one to soar through their final exams knowing they have the security of a place on their dream course waiting for them at the other end. This certainly was not my first experience of auditions, I had no idea what I was going into and quite frankly no idea if this was the career I wanted to pursue. Having always had a passion for acting as well as a musical interest, I assumed a career in Musical Theatre was the way for me and so I was applying to all the top schools that offered MT degrees. It was only when I received my final rejection email during the summer months that I found myself crying into a bowl of cereal in front of the TV with no plan, no security and all my friends leaving to go to Uni. What do I do now.

After coming to the conclusion that cereal is an excellent fix, it unfortunately was only temporary and wasn’t going to give me any guidance, so I grabbed my laptop and sat down to do some research. I found myself looking at short summer courses and applications for Foundation Years until suddenly a purple notification popped up on my laptop, it read – ‘Applications still being accepted for Year Out Drama, APPLY NOW!’. Little did I know that this was the first step to the biggest adventure I’ve ever had.

'Agamemnon'. Directed by Deborah Moody.

A week later, I had my zoom audition with course leaders Deborah Moody and Alastair McPhail due to the COVID restrictions at the time. However, it was an amazing experience – being required to perform the prologue from Romeo and Juliet, a speech of my choosing and a song, the audition had a very similar feel to those at Drama Schools except these ‘panellists’ were utterly invested in what I had to offer and enthused to discover who I was as a person. A short while after my audition, I received a ‘good news’ email that said I had been offered a place on the course and would be moving to Stratford Upon Avon for the Year in September. I could not wait and had no idea about the incredible journey I had ahead of me.

My first day in Stratford consisted of moving into one of the student houses alongside 7 other course members, all of whom where incredible people and just as enthusiastic about the arts as I was. I knew then, that this was going to be a fun year and any concerns I had about living away from home for the first time, soon vanished. We headed over to HQ that evening where Year Out Drama is based and met the other course members whilst being greeted with pizza and the Directors as well as Alumni. I instantly felt that I had just become part of a big community.

Weeks passed and we had already been thrown into Greek Mythology projects, writing workshops, movement, dance and singing lessons – the year was progressing fast and I was beginning to think about drama school auditions again. I remember coming out of rehearsals one day and having an epiphany – with the intensity of the course, I didn’t want to jeopardise my experience with the pressure of juggling auditions at the same time. This was when I made the big decision to not apply that year, it turned out to be the best decision I could have made. While other members of the course proceeded with auditions and had successful outcomes that year, I felt I needed some extra training and wanted to give myself a break before throwing myself into that drama school whirl wind again and so I focused on the projects at Year Out Drama and proceeded to have the best year of my life with no added pressure or stress. It was also during this year that I discovered I no longer wanted to try and pursue Musical Theatre training, but rather Acting whilst keeping up my musical interests on the side.

'Being Alive'. Directed by Simon Green.

As the year came to an end, I decided my time at The Year Out Drama Company was not over and so I took on full time hours at the restaurant I had been working at and moved into a flat with another friend from the course close to HQ. I successfully auditioned to be a part of the ‘Come Back Company’, a part time extension to Year Out Drama which consists of alumni from the course that want to continue training. This company also allows students the opportunity to direct or write some of their own projects and maintain weekly dance lessons with Associate Dance Choreographer – Kath Waters. I used this year to focus on drama school auditions whilst being a part of three major projects spread over the course of the ‘Come Back’ year. This was my first time auditioning for any BA Acting course so when I wasn’t working, Debs and Alastair allowed me space at HQ to rehearse with their guidance and create my self tapes.

To my surprise, I was quite successful throughout the audition process – gaining a place on the BA Acting course at Leeds Conservatoire and being a finalist to schools such as GSA, Oxford School of Drama and RADA before finally being offered a place at Rose Bruford. I was ending my time at Year Out Drama with utter nostalgia and excitement for the next chapter.

Having now completed my first year on a BA Acting course I can confidently say YOD fully prepared me for what was to come. Learning the importance of ensemble has only aided my movement classes at Drama school, being thrown into waky improvisations as a warm up every morning at YOD has given me the confidence to take ‘risks’ during my Acting classes, something that is highly encouraged when working creatively. Additionally, the disciplined schedule of YOD and how intense the course is, I feel has only benefited my sense of professionalism at Rose Bruford.

'Antigone'. Directed by Greg Banks.

I will forever be grateful for my first drama school rejections and self-pity evenings spent eating cereal because I never would have found the glorious Year Out Drama that got me to the place I am today. I also never would have made the life-long friendships I still carry with me and the incredible memories that have come with them. Stratford-Upon-Avon will forever be a second home and I will continue to venture back to HQ to see what excellent projects they are up to next.

Thank you Year Out Drama!

'From Morning To Midnight'. Directed by Alastair McPhail.