It’s the middle of that curious summer spell, far enough away from next term that doing work seems slightly over-hasty (although I guess it couldn’t hurt to check out some modules in advance!), but long enough since the end of exams that doing something productive feels necessary, and I’m writing at what has been the end of an almightily surreal, but wonderfully enjoyable, day.
As I wrote about recently, this time of year sees many of my friends, fellow Performing Arts members, and housemates departing for pastures new, having completed their degrees in the past couple of months – it’s going to be strange living in Southampton next year without them! So with many of their graduation ceremonies taking place today, I went along to catch up with many of them one final time on campus – well, for this summer at least (I’ve made as many as I can promise to visit!) – and just to check out what the graduation ceremonies are all about. After all, give it a year and, all being well, I’ll be attending my own next July (ahhh)!
Thankfully the weather couldn’t have been any better for the occasion; glorious sunshine throughout made for a fantastic, if at times sweltering (particularly for those graduating, all underneath robes and mortar boards!), backdrop for a day of celebration with families, friends and academic colleagues, all coming together to see off many a time at the University of Southampton in style. Highfield campus was awash with the colours of multitudes of smartly-dressed individuals and their loved ones, surrounded by packed marquees, eye-catching decorations and salient displays which all just added to the grandeur of the occasion. And that’s not even mentioning the free champagne on offer!
The reception venues looked magnificent, and were great locations for everyone to mingle!
Of course, my main reason for being there was to celebrate the magnificent achievements of some of the most inspirational, amicable and downright clever people I’ve met, so it was great to see many of them again, swap stories (with the hot topic being what conversations people had with their respective academics while claiming their degrees!), and share in their joy on what was hopefully a never-to-be-forgotten day for them. If the ceremonies I was able to catch on the video wall inside the main Students’ Union building were anything to go by, along with the huge amounts of photographs being taken and fun everyone was having basking in the sunshine, I’m sure the day certainly was! I hope to see everybody again as soon as possible!
I managed to watch many of my friends’ ceremonies inside the Union building, which was awesome!
If you’ve ever read any of my posts before, it probably won’t surprise you to know that, when not attending graduation ceremonies, most of the rest of my time recently has gone into rehearsing for – you guessed it – a theatrical show, even in the middle of the summer! After all, preparations have been well and truly in full swing for the two shows that Gone Rogue Productions (the touring name we use for Performing Arts groups from the University of Southampton) are taking to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August for a two and a half week run, hopefully to entertain international audiences on the most famous stage of all. These are Stephen Belber’s dark thriller Tape, and a cross-gendered twist on the Oscar Wilde farcical classic, The Importance of Being Earnest – two pretty contrasting shows, but both potential crowd-pleasers!
Being cast in the latter production as Gwendolen, one of the female love interests, has been an absolute blast so far, if slightly different to the usual rehearsal process! Many an hour has been spent recently learning how to act as a typically feminine character, for example in terms of changing my voice, mannerisms and physicality – as well as practising how to walk in heels (ouch!) while wearing a dress (luckily behind closed doors in rehearsal rooms, at the moment at least)! As my director Jed put it, it’s not something I really envisaged when I joined the Students’ Union Theatre Group in first year! But it’s been a lot of fun preparing for the Fringe again with another brilliantly talented and convivial cast and crew, and the show’s coming together nicely to hopefully form a rollicking farce for audiences to enjoy, just in time for our preview showings on campus at the end of the week. It’ll then travel to Scotland at the beginning of August and start showing on the 10th – so there’s not much time at all to go now! For more information, feel free to check out our crowd-funding pitch below:
So as ever, life at Southampton, even in supposed “downtime”, remains busy and challenging, but wholly fulfilling – and with only a year left until I’ll hopefully be graduating too, that’s certainly the way I’d like it to continue to be!