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Graduate profiles

Where could a Drama or Dance degree take you?

Drama and Theatre Studies is a springboard for a variety of careers across events, performance and training, as our alumni career profiles show.

Name: Loretta Chen
Subject: Drama and Theatre Studies
Graduated: 1999
Place of work: Theatre Events, Singapore
Position: Creative Director

Loretta cuts a prominent figure in both academia and in the entertainment arena. She is a multi-talented scholar-turned-creative director and pioneered the Creative Communications, Drama and Creativity, Innovation & Enterprise (CIE) programmes in Singapore Polytechnic.

She is an Associate Lecturer in NUS, LASALLE, NAFA and NTU. Academia aside, Loretta directs various high-profile theatrical and large scale commissioned events.

What first attracted you to Royal Holloway?

I knew I wanted to study at Royal Holloway as it had the best drama department, a great campus and a wonderful faculty.

What did Royal Holloway teach you?

That I had everything it takes to be a good academic and an even better director. I had the most nurturing and supportive professors. Royal Holloway was seminal in giving me the confidence to become a working director.

I was always very intrigued by and had a natural aptitude for dense theory, so it was thoroughly enjoyable. Demanding, challenging, time-consuming but I lapped up every minute of it.

What’s happened in your career?

I direct, lecture, host (I am a professional master of ceremony), write and act – in that order.  

The biggest project was the Asian Premiere of Victor/Victoria starring international jazz legend Laura Fygi and Grammy-nominated trumpeter Ron King. It cost over £1 million and I helmed a team of about 100 people.

I have worked with the National Theatre of Japan, toured in Australia, collaborated with Shaolin monks from China and directed The Vagina Monologues in Toronto, Canada.

I teamed up with J Phillips Creative Management (US) and we are now an internationally recognised company that provides artistic expertise to major Hollywood studios, production houses and independent film companies.

Name: James Pidgeon
Subject: English & Drama
Graduated: 2009
Place of work: Shoreditch Town Hall
Position: Artistic Director

After working in Southwark Community Projects at Shakespeare’s Globe throughout his degree and then completing a year as President of the Students’ Union, James worked as Assistant to the Director’s Office at Battersea Arts Centre and then worked at the National Theatre before taking up his current post.

What first attracted you to Royal Holloway?

I chose English and Drama at Royal Holloway because of the integration of both disciplines into one course. I was also drawn to the fact that all of the staff in both departments are practicing researchers, professionals and pioneers in their field.

What did Royal Holloway teach you?

Not only did Royal Holloway offer me a huge breadth of academic knowledge, it also taught me the importance of being organised, working efficiently in a team, being tactful and always communicating effectively in order to succeed.

It is these elements combined with a concrete knowledge of my subject area that have really helped my career to develop. Performance-based activities strengthened my skills, and I always valued how they directly or indirectly complemented my academic study.

What’s happened in your career?

I was the Watch This Space Festival and Platforms Assistant for the National Theatre, acting as the first point of contact, assisting with programming, day-to-day management of artists and stewards and co-ordinating all FEU and Certificate of Sponsorship applications.

I also work on the Platforms programme, which is a constantly running programme of main house talks, debates and pre-show discussions that complement the National’s repertoire and educates and entertains our audiences. I recently took up the post of Artistic Director at Shoreditch Town Hall. I'll let you know how it goes.

Name: Gareth Davies
Subject: Music & Drama
Graduated: 1995
Place of work: The Presenter Studio
Position: Co-Director

Gareth’s career started at the BBC where he worked for nearly 10 years before going freelance, making shows for ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the founder and co-director of The Presenter Studio, a talent development agency that trains, creates and breaks TV presenting talent.

What first attracted you to Royal Holloway?

I was very aware of Royal Holloway’s reputation and I knew that would help me find work when I finished. I wanted to combine my love of music and drama and Royal Holloway seemed the perfect place.

 When I was applying I knew that in the Music Department I was going to be with the crème de la crème of music students in the UK.

What did Royal Holloway teach you?

There were lots of opportunities for me to develop my skills. The course was also very academic and pushed you to hone your writing skills.

Coming to Royal Holloway gives you a certain sense of confidence because you are mixing with such talented people as well as some truly brilliant lecturers.

What’s happened in your career?

My first job in television was as a runner for a post production house in Soho. Then I applied for a job at the BBC as an Assistant Floor Manager and got it. It was my experience as a runner and my degree that got me the job.  

I think it reflects best what I learnt at Royal Holloway – which was how to look at things creatively and put shows together. I worked my way up from researcher to producer in quite a short amount of time.

At The Presenter Studio we help create TV personalities not presenters. We work hard with individuals to find out what their brand is, then we embrace and create three key points through various filming scenarios in order for them to be packaged.

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