There a lot of women doing great things in Wellington theatre, but what about within the Victoria theatre program? Adeline and Ophelia sat down with three women, each at a different stage in their undergraduate theatre major, to see what kinds of opportunities there are for women studying at Victoria. Thanks to Nellie Panina (first year), Madeleine Warren (second year), and Ailise Beales (third year).
Describe in a nutshell how your theatre major has been going this year:
Nellie: It hasn’t been too riveting because of the THEA 101 theory paper. I don’t think it’s a great introduction to theatre, but the next course THEA 113 looks really interactive and will bring people out of their shell.
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Madeleine: THEA 204 hits you with a whole bunch of old school theatre (think Shakespeare and Aristophanes) straight away. You get a taste for lots of different aspects of theatre—not just acting or theory. You can also sign up to do the lighting and all those interesting backstage jobs.
Ailise: Incredible. Unbelievable. Best experience I have ever had at university. THEA 302 was such an authentic experience of the process of producing a show. You get all of these opportunities to take on technical roles and acting roles, and it is all under the guidance of a director who is so incredibly experienced.
What opportunities have you been given during this year?
Nellie: We have been notified about auditioning for the Young and Hungry Festival, and VUWTSS (Victoria University of Wellington Theatre Students Society) offers acting workshops.
Madeleine: I am currently in the theatre spiral of Wellington. There’s a Facebook group called the “Wellington Actors Group” which I joined and then that got me in contact with theatre companies and now I work for PlayShop (improvised theatre company). Opportunities come from talking to people around you at university. Everybody is so willing to give you the opportunities, you only need to look for them.
Ailise: The biggest one would probably be VUWTSS. I was just in the right place at the right time and managed to get involved with the executive group and am now Co-President alongside Adam Hart. We’ve finally created a website which we are so proud of: www.vuwtss.com. This trimester we are working on publicity so that we can include all year levels in our workshops and meetings.
What has been your biggest success in theatre this year?
Nellie: Meeting other people who are just as interested in theatre as I am. People actually take theatre seriously at university and are passionate about it.
Madeleine: Finding how I fit in with with the group of people taking second year papers was a really nice moment in trimester one. And actually feeling like a show went well because we all worked together.
Ailise: Being apart of the THEA 302 production of Much Ado About Nothing—everything from the collaboration, the learning process, and the performance itself. It was all so home-grown.
How do you feel as a woman taking a theatre degree?
Ailise: I remember auditioning for Young and Hungry in first year and there was a guy sitting next to me in the waiting room and we got chatting. He said something along the lines of: “I’m not too nervous [about the audition] because I’m a guy and I’ll probably get a role anyway.” I sat there and looked at all of the women in the room and there were a lot in comparison to men. I remember thinking: “Wow, we really have to be mindful that the competition between women in theatre is so much fiercer because of the sheer number of us. The reality should be that we are much more supportive of each other and helping each other to succeed in this kind of a field.”
A word that comes to mind when you think about theatre:
Madeleine: Blended family.