Jonathan Witchell

 What were your feelings about starting university before you got here?

I was always very keen to go to university after finishing my A levels, and I knew I wanted to study theatre. After completing my BA (Hons) Theatre and Performance I really wanted to undertake my own research project, and make discoveries along the way.

Why did you choose Plymouth University?

I chose Plymouth because I like the city, and I felt the University has much to offer. When I started my BA, the Roland Levinsky building had just been built, and it was clear that the University was expanding. I also wanted to be able to be in easy travelling distance to my home in Torbay. 

Why did you choose the course and what did you want to gain from it?

I originally chose Plymouth because the BA incorporated both theory and practice. I decided to remain at Plymouth for my MRes because I liked the fact that the programme offers students a chance to undertake their own research project. I was fortunate enough to have a tutor well versed in the area I wanted to study. Over the course of the BA I began to find that my strength lay in writing more than performance, and the MRes invites both written and practice-led theses. 

What projects have you most enjoyed so far?

I enjoyed devising and performing a script during the first year of my MRes, and particularly enjoyed the fact that I was able to perform an almost entirely self-written script. Some of the issues I brought up relating to sexuality were very personal to me. The projects I enjoyed most throughout both my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, would perhaps be the writing of my theses.   

What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far?

I think the achievement I feel most proud of is presenting a paper at a conference. I did this at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, and felt really pleased I was able to present some of my work. Although I was a little nervous, everyone was very warm and inviting. I particularly liked the fact that other academics were able to ask questions and offer feedback on my area of research, and enjoyed listening to other researchers’ talks. The conference made me feel I had earned respect and value from those who took the time to listen to what I had to say.  

How has the course help you in the development of your skills and prepare you for your career?

The course helped develop my research skills; for example I have started to appreciate that when researching, it can take some thorough investigating to find resources that are really attuned to what you are studying! I have also learnt that you can’t write about everything you research, and that one small thread or argument may spur much thought! Should I choose to continue on an academic path, the experience of presenting a paper at a conference was an important step for me. Through my research and writing about queer issues, the course has helped me move forward in my understanding of sexuality and gender studies.

What would your advice be to anyone joining the course?

My advice to anyone joining the course would be to make sure that the area you decide to study is something that interests you and that you are keen to learn more about. 

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

If I successfully complete my MRes, I am hoping to apply for a studentship award to undertake a PhD. If I manage to undertake a PhD, I hope to continue my research in queer studies. One of my dreams would be to get some form of writing (be it an article or book) published one day.