BLOG: Rhiannon, HNC Acting and Performance student

Performing Arts student, Rhiannon, was able to take the first step in her acting career right on her doorstep and has discovered a new level of confidence through her studies.

Hi! Can you start by introducing yourself?

Hey, my name’s Rhiannon and I have recently completed the HNC in Acting and Performance course at Moray College UHI which was delivered in partnership with Out of the Darkness Theatre Company, and I’m coming back to study in September!

Why did you decide to study this course?

I have wanted to pursue a career in the theatre industry for as long as I can remember. Once I found a course that gave me the tools and knowledge needed to follow this career path it was a no-brainer. Studying with the Out of the Darkness Theatre Company was also an easy decision as I had studied with them previously on a Creative Industries schools programme course back in 2017, and I had also completed a four-week internship with them through the Career Ready programme run through my high school from 2017-18. Both were memorable experiences and I gained valuable insight into the industry I wanted to spend the rest of my life in, and the company I would be doing the majority of my training with.

What made you decide to #ChooseMoray?

I chose to study at Moray College UHI because it is local to me, and there are a wide variety of courses on offer that I wouldn’t have expected to be offered in such a small place. Before I started studying at Moray College UHI, I was fully expecting to have to go to a larger city like Inverness, Aberdeen, or even Glasgow or Edinburgh to pursue training for the career I wanted, so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that these courses were available to me on my doorstep at such a high standard of teaching.

Was there anything you wish you knew before starting the course?

I feel I was prepared to start studying, but if I were to advise someone else, I would remind them that although the course is practical-based, it’s not entirely practical and there are written elements, but I feel these aided the learning and were often necessary for me to retain the information given.

What is it like studying at Out of the Darkness Theatre Company (ODTC)?

I loved the way the course was taught. I feel the process of kinaesthetic learning followed by written assessment was a good way for me to retain and use the information, skills, knowledge, and techniques needed for a career in theatre. The lecturers are always available and happy to help with anything you may have questions about and having that support there is the difference between a passing and failing grade.

What skills do you feel you have gained from the course?

I feel I have developed skills in all areas of acting, from voice work to movement. Before starting the course, I only had a basic knowledge of vocal projection and diction but now I am well equipped with the knowledge of how sound is made and how to use it to its full potential. For a career in theatre, you need to be able to cooperate with others and have good diplomacy skills. I feel I have worked on these skills a great deal since joining Moray College UHI, both in class and with HISA, through the Student Voice Rep system, which gives opportunities for diplomatic discussion and interpersonal teamwork. I have learned speeches and skills I can use in future for auditions, as well as developing skills in diplomacy and problem solving through my work with HISA. These will help me greatly with my career as I will be working with people for the vast majority of the time.

Have you had any work experience opportunities throughout the course?

I took part in the Out of the Darkness Theatre Company’s annual pantomime and the Elf Academy experience in partnership with Brodie Castle. I found the work placement with the ODTC pantomime to be a great experience working with a varied and talented cast, as well as being so much fun and such a memorable time. Working in partnership with Brodie Castle for the Elf Academy Tour was a great insight into site-specific theatre performances. It was a terrific weekend working with people I enjoyed working with, and gaining experience in working in a professional environment with paying visitors accompanied by small children was equally as rewarding. I feel both of these projects have equipped me with professional experience to bring forward into a career.

Where would you like to go with your career in the future?

I have always seen myself in a career in theatre for as long as I can remember, and I honestly can’t see myself following any other career – this is only the first step in my journey. I am planning to move to a larger city like Aberdeen, Glasgow or London to look for other opportunities in theatre. I will aim to pursue jobs in larger theatre companies and start auditioning for roles.

How has this course helped you with your future plans?

I don’t feel I have a definitive plan for my career as I feel it would be naïve to make one for this particular industry; however, I will feel I have ‘made it’ once I perform on a West End or Broadway stage.

What has been the highlights of the course?

During my time at Moray College, I have made friends with people from across Moray that I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and I feel we have really bonded as a class over the years to the point that I can’t really imagine studying without them.

I have learned a great deal about the industry and gained knowledge I wouldn’t have gained elsewhere thanks to the extreme talent, skill, and experience of the teaching staff. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time studying with the Out of the Darkness Theatre Company and feel it has well equipped me for a career in the performing arts in a way that is fun, engaging, and especially enjoyable. I am especially looking forward to studying with ODTC next year on the new UAL: Performing and Production Arts course!

Aside from studying, I have enjoyed the overall experience of being part of Moray College UHI as a whole; I always look forward to coming into class and spending a whole day learning.

If you could invite any 3 people to dinner, who would it be and why?

I would invite David Attenborough because he would tell the best stories through the sheer amount of travelling he has done, and really give an insight into the world around us and the impact of our place in it.

I would love to talk to Mary Shelley about her experience as the first female science fiction writer, and how she was able to be so defiant and strong willed, and how she defended her place as a writer in the face of opposition and oppression from the male-dominated industry she was a part of.

Lastly, I would invite Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. She leads the country in such an efficient way and doesn’t seem to bow to pressure and does what is right for the country, especially during the pandemic. I feel like I can learn leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills from her, as well as how to lead diplomatically with minimal conflict whilst respecting all communities in the country.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I was very shy in school; I wouldn’t talk to many people and would combust if asked to speak in front of the class! However, since discovering theatre and taking up acting I have completely changed as a person; I am far more confident and would take any opportunity to speak in front of people to the point where I have been told I am unrecognisable on stage!

Favourite way to spend a day off?

I love going on walks around my local woods, playing with my cat, or working on my newest sewing project! I also enjoy working on an extravagant new Minecraft build with my friends online.

What are the top things you have learned over the past year?

Something I have learnt this year is that not everyone will like you and there isn’t anything you can do about it. You just have to always stay true to yourself and never try to change for other people. I also learnt through studying this year that it’s okay to not know the answer to everything, it is okay to ask questions, you’re there to learn.

What would you say to anyone thinking of studying at Moray College UHI?

Studying at Moray College UHI has been such a worthwhile experience, I have made many great friends and learned so much to help me in my career, all at a local campus. As well as my course, I have learned so many life skills through being a Student Voice Rep so I would highly recommend becoming one if you get the chance!

Our courses can be a great stepping stone for prospective performers, writers or directors and will prepare you with transferrable skills to work in the creative industries, arts management, teaching or a range of other professions.