Henry Kingdon

Applied Theatre - BA

Henry went from studying highly academic courses at a grammar school, applying to universities with high entry requirements, to not meeting his grades and changing his career path completely. Clearing gave Henry the opportunity to start a degree that was actually right for him without the pressure of his past and his mental health influencing his studies.

‘When I was going into my A-levels, I had this vision in mind that I was going to do a completely different degree to what I'm doing now, I was planning to do a degree in classics. About halfway through my A-levels, where I was doing Latin, French and History, I realised that I didn’t entirely enjoy it. I am not very good at longform writing or analysis-based writing which is something you need to do in French and some of the Latin literature. But I had it in my mind that I was going to do this classics degree, so I'd chosen that. When it came to applying for university, I applied to a lot of highly academic universities and I think the pressure of not being able to perform in my A-Levels as well as doing a subject I wasn’t happy doing, contributed to me having poor mental health.

For my A-Levels I went to a school which was similar to a grammar school. It was expected that I would go to university, get a degree and start moving forward into an academic career. I come from a second-generation university family, so that also put a lot of pressure on me as they favour university and had an expectation that I would go. If I hadn’t have gone to university, there would have needed to be a very good reason not to go. As this was the case, I looked into doing a PGCE which is obviously only possible by going to university.

Results day came and I didn't get the grades needed to get into any of the universities I had applied for. Theatre was always one of my passions and I had done a lot of extracurricular work in theatre too. I'd achieved up to level seven with distinction in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Monolog and Videolog. I also achieved level five in Music Theatre, so I had a good amount of knowledge to get by. My grades for this counted as UCAS points, which meant that technically I had achieved what I needed to get onto the course I am on now at BCU.

Before I got to the stage of knowing I was going to fail, I investigated other subjects that were related to theatre. Applied Theatre came up and I wasn't really sure what it was, but once I started to look into it, it sounded really interesting. On results day I wasn’t sure what to do but knew that my grades were nearly there for what I needed to get onto Applied Theatre at BCU. Initially, I sent an email to the programme lead who gave me a call and asked if I could go for an interview. That evening, I got on a coach up to Birmingham from Plymouth and stayed overnight ahead of the interview. I met a few of the course leads who were all brilliant at what they do and really helped me. We had a conversation about me, not what I did or didn’t know about theatre or what my academic background was, they wanted to know if I was passionate enough to learn. That afternoon, I received an email to say that I had got a place.

Coming to BCU has led me to some amazing things and I have changed in all the best ways. I mean, I grew a beard! I am a very, very different person to who I was when I was doing my A-Levels. When I finished my A-levels, I was a Latin, French and History student and most of the stereotypes applied. Now I am very much wrapped up in a theatre world. I have allowed myself to come out more. Being involved in theatre was always something that happened in my spare time growing up, but now it is a dream and is something I actually do. I am now a Director of the local community theatre company which is supported by B Festival. I was the school rep for Birmingham School of Acting which then led me to winning a Rory!

I have come to BCU to do my best, and will leave here happy doing what I love doing.’