Natasha Dowd

"Leeds Conservatoire is the only place in the North offering this type of degree - it's fresh faced and full of energy"

What made you choose Leeds Conservatoire?

I chose Leeds Conservatoire because it is the only place in the North offering this type of degree - it's fresh faced, full of energy and lead by our brilliant course leader who sold me on what I would learn here from day one. I chose Leeds because of the opportunities, the facilities I've been offered, as well getting to interact with other creators in and around the city - London isn't the only place for theatre, and Leeds Conservatoire is helping to show that!

Has anything been totally different to what you expected when you started at Leeds Conservatoire?

It's been better than what I expected, and I had high hopes going in! I'm forever being pushed, challenged and stretched! I've been able to take up instrumental lessons with industry professionals for the first time ever, which I never thought I'd be in a position to do, I even have classes in Screen Acting! My experience here has been incredible, and it's thanks to my course leader Erin Carter that it was never really hindered by the pandemic.

What is the most mind blowing thing you've learned so far at Leeds Conservatoire?

I think the most mind blowing thing I have learned is what my cohort and I are capable of in the middle of this pandemic. Whilst we were stuck with online classes, we created multiple shows, songs, animations, set designs, adaptations, and much more! We're already making original work and that wasn't something I'd expected to come from this pandemic. It's only made me more excited for what we'll be capable of once we're in 2nd year making even more work together!

Is there anything that has really made you push yourself as a musician or performer?

Our current Acting assessment includes looking at scenes from Chekov's Three Sisters, and I'm playing Masha. She's really outside the realms of what I'm usually cast to play, so getting to break her personality and experiences down has been really new for me. I haven't played a character like her before so this assessment is really pushing me to find where I can relate to her and experimenting with ways I can portray her and her experiences in the play.

What was the best piece of advice you've had since starting at Leeds Conservatoire?

The best piece of advice is giving myself permission to make mistakes and fail. I'm quite a perfectionist with myself and what I create, so coming here and allowing myself to make those mistakes and experiment and risk doing something badly, it's really helped me discover more things I enjoy and want to explore, and opened me up as an artist in general.

What do you get up to outside of studying?

I'm a student ambassador, so I help with auditions and open days and other great opportunities for prospective students to learn more about the course. As well as that, I work part time as a bartender in the city centre (when I'm not stuck on furlough), which has been great for me to interact with people outside of the Conservatoire whilst also getting me extra income.

What is the best thing about living and studying in Leeds?

Leeds reminds me a lot of my home city, which is really nice. It's even better that it's less expensive than living down south and I'm a ten minute walk from the nearest theatre, and 20 mins away from my workplace! Everywhere I go is in walking distance, which makes life a lot easier. You also get to see a lot of busking in the city centre, which is great, and you'll even see people from the Conservatoire busking from time to time!

What advice would you give to a prospective student thinking of applying to your course?

The most important thing to remember is to put yourself out there: take up an instrument you wouldn't initially choose, take the risk of failure and go with it. Making mistakes on this course is going to help you a lot and your teachers will be right there supporting that! Nobody expects you to be perfect from day one, they want you to build on the potential they saw in you from your audition.

What are your plans for after you've finished your course?

My plan is to possibly set up my own theatre company, or perhaps focus on freelance work! I'd love to write and stage original shows, but also band work for theatre shows and musicals, stage and tv work - whatever I can get my hands on. I want to experience and experiment with everything I can when I go into the industry. I definitely plan on having fun with what I do!

How would you describe your experience at Leeds Conservatoire so far in three words?

Exciting, Intense, Engaging.

Read more about our BA (Hons) Actor Musician Programme

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