Hollie Aston-Baugh

A Serpent's Gaze

For Hollie's final project, she  formed a company and created a 30-minute performance called "A Serpent's Gaze" for The Applied Theatre Festival.

Applied Theatre - BA (Hons)

Tell us about your journey studying at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and Birmingham City University

My 3 years at RBC have absolutely flown by. It really has been quite the journey, especially since I started my first year during a global pandemic. Although this did impact some opportunities, I have learnt so much about myself and the world during my time at university. I’ve had some fantastic tutors, who have always been willing to go out of their way to help and provide feedback. I have also made the most amazing friends, who I’ll really miss getting to see every day. Over the course of my degree, I’ve made use of facilities like Curzon Library and The Conservatoire. I even got the opportunity to collaborate with a Music Tech student and record my vocals in a studio in Millennium Point. My course provides incredible opportunities, so much of it being focused around gaining work experience in the field i.e.. Work placement at the end of second year.

Give us an overview of your project

My final project involved forming a ‘company’ and creating a 30-minute piece which would be performed as part of The Applied Theatre Festival, at The Old Printworks in Moseley. My company’s performance was called A Serpents Gaze and it put a modern feminist twist on the Greek myth of Medusa. ‘Comic, theatrical and featuring original music this captivating play smashes boundaries as it explores injustice and discrimination against women’. I had the pleasure of composing the music for the show and I had an incredible time creating and performing it with my company, I am so proud of every one of us. We received amazing feedback from tutors, family, friends and industry professionals. The whole festival was a great success and if you ever get the chance to go to one, I highly recommend it!

How has your course helped you to prepare for your final project?

The Applied Theatre course is built strategically in that everything you do in 1st and 2nd year prepares you for the final year. Therefore, by this point we were extremely familiar with working in groups to devise and perform a piece of original theatre. Our Personal Project module also gave us a good idea of how much goes into the organisation of an event like The Applied Theatre Festival. We had a lot of support during our process, for example we were paired with a mentor who had vast experience in the style of theatre we were interested in, as well as support from our voice and movement tutors. The advice we received was invaluable, they really helped to shape our piece in different ways and supplied us with various resources to allow us to achieve what we were aiming for. As well as this, we were provided with a £100 budget which allowed us to acquire the props and costume that we needed.

What are your future aspirations?

After graduation, I am looking to be a freelance artist and/or work for a local theatre-in-education company. I am particularly passionate about working with young people, facilitating education through drama and creating a healthy environment for various topics to be explored. So many children and young people benefit from getting involved in the arts, it encourages creativity and can allow for a development in confidence. We cannot let the arts be driven out of education. I will also continue with music; I am currently a part-time singer and I often upload original songs to social media platforms like Tiktok.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

My main advice would be to take every opportunity possible and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Especially in 1st year, you’re allowed to create things that might make you cringe in a few years, it’s all part of the learning experience. You’re not necessarily going to nail everything first time but that’s completely okay. Also, if anyone offers you free tickets to anything, take them! That probably won’t happen again when you’re no longer a student. But most of all, enjoy it, it goes by far too quickly.