A Retrospective Look Back


The assignment’s been sent down the portal and now I have a few weeks until it returns with the notes and grade.

Looking back, what have I learnt, liked, loathed?

The last academic year has been one of changes for me. I moved house, started a new job and the first three months or so of the course suffered due to it. This is also due to having to study Stanislavski and his “nonsense” (as David Mamet calls it)  in the first few units too – I’m going to do a blog on Stanislavski in the near future, where I’ll formulate my views into more depth than just “nonsense”, but that’ll do for now. I got rather bogged down and got really behind in the work, as I just couldn’t get motivated.

After Xmas I was extremely close to throwing in the towel and quitting. I had a long chat with the college who were really helpful and supportive as ever. I then had a long sit down and actually took some time off from work and had a long hard look at my life and where I want to go, what  I want to do and what I enjoy. Theatre is my passion, and the college course is certainly the reason my knowledge and passion has increased these last five years. Following this reflection I took some drastic measures and simply said “NO” to all my other commitments and interests and immersed myself in my studies and all things theatrical. My long-term aim is to work in the theatrical industry and so I realised I needed to focus on it 100% if that’s to become a reality in the near future.

I attended the study weekend and that certainly continued to fire me up, I found the more I got into the course, the more I enjoyed, I suppose it’s the cliché, you only get out what you put in. For the last few years the course has been a nice addition to my life, whereas actually if I really want to get the most from it (and the best grade) it needs to be the focus point. Anyone on the course knows how hard it can be, especially fitting all the reading in, but it is possible, as I said you just have to be ruthless, and again another cliché comes to mind, if it was easy then it wouldn’t count for much and if it was easy there’d be no point doing it.

As mentioned in previous posts I chose to look at Bertolt Brecht and Augusto Boal for my assignment, which I really enjoyed, both these practitioners have profoundly effected the way I see and do theatre. So much so that I was several thousand words over my word count for my assignment and so had to cut lots out for the final draft, this is something that has never happened before as for most assignments I’ve been under the word count even at the final draft stage! Doing in-depth research for the assignment certainly paid off and is a lesson I’ll take through for the next modules.

I now have a few months gap before the next modules kick off (what I’ve chosen will be on my blog soon), I have the bibliographies and have got some books from them already, now onto the background reading for these modules. 🙂


10 thoughts on “A Retrospective Look Back

  1. I wonder why there is a limit on the word count. I went over by some 25% once, and my tutor, Chris Baldwin, declined to mark me down for it. He explained that it had been the right length for what I had to say. I have become less neurotic over it in consequence. Why should it be relevant to the final markb- is it just another box for the examiner to tick?

  2. I imagine it’s because the examiners only have a limited amount of time so can’t go through 30, 10,000 word essays. I find it a useful guide but that’s all, I was well over this time, but honestly couldn’t have cut much more, I feel. In fact I know my conclusion was not as strong as I’d have liked, but I just didn’t want the assignment to go on any longer. I suppose when I get my grade, I’ll know if what I said was valid or unnecessary.

  3. Great blog. I think you’re right about limiting the length of these due to the marking commitment. From experience I know that ‘good’ and ‘thoughtful’ marking is time consuming, and we get so much feedback on these. I am a researchaholic and frequently have so much I want to say and end up going well over the limit before edit. Certainly this makes my final version sound stilted and less well presented but there is a challenge in breaking it down to the (as Brook would say) ‘essence’. I’ve tried to tell myself that limitations have purposes and that if the processes have given me more to mull over then that’s a good thing… It makes me less of an assignment completer and more of a learner with the extra detail and information that will make me a ‘fuller’ theatrical practitioner.
    As for problems completing the course, work commitments and one illness last year made me think of giving it up but RB gave me an extension and great support. This year with the Facebook page I managed to see that I wasn’t the only one who struggled at times and our words of support and geeing up created a ‘community of care’ which is so beneficial.
    Keep up the good work with the blog!

  4. I’ve never had to mark papers, so maybe I’m less sympathetic. I’ve always sent my tutor my comments on his/her assessment, and, when they get over the surprise, they are content to enter a dialogue. This was how Chris Baldwin got to make the comment I quoted above.
    It would be interesting to know the weighting given to the various subheads to the assignment summary. How does excessive length weigh against poor spelling? I was incandescent with rage when one tutor (no longer on the strength) ‘corrected’ my punctuation.

    • Jolyon, I had a large negative comment about a paragraph that made no sense and a word within it that didn’t exist. I was down graded due to this. I had used the word ‘outwith’, still in regular usage in Scotland (even in Scottish Government publications)but not so in London Central. With the word being used and understood correctly the paragraph made perfect sense. It was too late to alter my result as the papers had been submitted to Manchester and accepted by the time I had made my point.

      What was the assignment about…multi-culturalism in theatre, accepting other cultures as valuable: except Scottish obviously.

      • I must say about my comment above that RB were excellent in their responses and acknowledgement that something had gone wrong and action was taken to make sure it didn’t happen again. That response meant a lot.

  5. Sorry to hear that Calum, but I’m glad RB took it onboard, that’s the great thing with the college, they listen and then respond and make the necessary changes.

    Fingers crossed while they’re marking mine over the next week or so!

    • Dominick, its one of the reasons why I really love RB… you can approach and you feel that they listen and take action. Mistakes happen everywhere and the it is the response take that is most important. Jayne and her team are excellent and really care about us all. That builds greater respect and loyalty.

      • Just noticed my mistake in typing/editing above…
        ‘Mistakes happen everywhere and it is the response taken that is most important.’

        I think my own mistake backs up that point. lol

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