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Meet the Course Director of BA Applied Theatre, Peter Wynne Willson

Peter Wynne Willson is the Course Director of our BA (Hons) Applied Theatre course. Find out what makes Peter love his job and read about his top tips for students joining the School of Acting.

What did you study at University?

I studied Drama at the University of Manchester.

What are your hobbies and interests?

I love cycling, films, cooking, and sport of all kinds. I only took the job at Birmingham City University because it is named after the best football team in the world!

What is the philosophy of your course?

It is all built around learning by doing. Students gain all of the skills and understanding to become Applied Theatre makers, and they do that largely by experiencing applied theatre work, engaging with current practitioners, working in the community, and making their own work.

What’s your favourite thing about working at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire?

The people I work with. We have a really lovely, passionate talented team of tutors here, and they are great fun to spend the days with – as are our students, of course.

How would you describe the School of Acting?

Busy, buzzing, bizarre – you never quite know what you might find happening in the corridors, with students working on creating drama at all times, everywhere.

Why might students want to study your course?

Our course is literally unique – there isn’t another course in the country which is so focused on inspiring the next generation of applied theatre makers. Everyone who you will encounter as a teacher or mentor is a practitioner first and foremost, they know all about the work and they care about it deeply.

What can students look forward to most when starting their course in September?

Meeting a whole motley bunch of new creative, passionate fellow students, who even though they don’t know it yet, will be the most important people in your life for the next three years.

How can students prepare for university now?

The biggest single thing would be watching as much work as you can find – there is more available out there online than usual, with companies responding to lockdown, but if you can get involved in making theatre in any way too, that would be perfect.

Where will students mainly be based in their study time and what will their learning environment look like?

Even in the first year, our course mixes up sessions in classrooms, drama studios and the community, with visits to companies and real-life projects. Across the three years an increasing proportion of the course takes place in the community, and students have a lot of say in exactly where, because it will depend often on their area of interest.

Can you give us five top tips for students joining the School of Acting in September?

  1. Clear the space in your life. Our degree can be very ‘full-on’ if you commit fully to all of the possibilities, and it is really hard to combine it with lots of other activities.
  2. Embrace difference. We always get a wide range of students from different backgrounds on our course, with different skills and passions, and that is a real joy, and a huge bonus when it comes to theatre-making.
  3. Explore the city – make connections. Birmingham is a great place to be a student, and there is a lot going on, so get involved.
  4. Look after yourself. Get fit, stay healthy, and be kind to yourself. You will enjoy your time here much more if you are fit and well and wide awake in the mornings!
  5. Make the most of everything. You only have this time once, and the students we see thriving most here are those who grab every opportunity going.

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