Leeds School of Arts

Infusing the challenges of COVID 19 into creating powerful performances

First year Theatre and Performance student Bethany started her university studies during the COVID 19 pandemic. She tells us how she adapted to a new way of learning, and even learnt to infuse the challenges she faced into creating performance work.

Performing arts students on stage with masks on

My name is Bethany Long, I’m a first-year student studying BA (Hons) in Theatre and Performance and I started my university studies at Leeds Beckett during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I chose to study theatre and performance as I have always had a great passion for theatre and wanted to continue to expand my knowledge for it whilst also gaining a degree that will help me get a career in later life. I was apprehensive around starting university and wondered how my course would work if we couldn’t go on campus, as it is heavily practical based. It made me anxious that we would have to complete a lot of the modules online with no face-to-face contact time at all. I was also nervous that as a first-year student, I wouldn’t get the full university experience like freshers week.

Since starting at Leeds Beckett in September, I have found that my tutors have been amazing.  Our safety genuinely is their top priority and they ensure we all follow the correct guidelines. My peers have also been great in keeping in touch if anything changes regarding them feeling unwell etc. As for the university, I’ve received informative leaflets from the university on a regular basis, and there’s always been the offer of someone to talk to if I needed some extra support. Leeds Beckett have really kept us students in the loop about the changing situation.

My tutors adapted our practical lessons so we could continue to create work. They introduced a gridded floor with one metre areas marked out for each student to work in their own personal space. Understanding how to create powerful work whilst remaining separated was a new challenge that the pandemic created. I was online for lectures however I found this very easy as the tutors were always prepared and ready for the lesson to ensure smooth running classes which are always full of useful information. I also received a lot of online mental health support from the university.

My tutors helped me to continue learning as they inspired me to look at the situation in a new light. Where I was apprehensive about how the government guidelines would affect classes, they said to see it as a new experience which spurred me to adapt and overcome these feelings and infuse the situation into my work.

My tips for other students would be to always keep an open mind and to have trust that your tutors and peers are doing the right thing for you. I would also advise to be open to try new things as this year has presented something new to us all. Don’t be afraid to get some of it wrong, the year of 2020 has no handbook therefore we ran with that, something I encourage you to do as well. Enjoy every moment of it! Before I knew it, I have already pretty much completed a third of my first year - you won’t get this time back so embrace every challenge and have fun whilst doing so. 

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