Bobby Bates

MA Performance Design

I practically live at stage@leeds, I do so many shows. It has two performance theatres, rehearsal spaces and studios, there’s so much to get involved in. My course is very academic, and I knew from completing my undergraduate course at Leeds that the tutors encourage and support you to get hands-on experience whilst studying. 

Leeds University Union has a number of performance and theatre societies that regularly use stage@leeds for shows. This has given me the opportunity to design a variety of sets and build up my portfolio. I work as a Duty Manager at stage@leeds in my spare time as well. It fits around my studies and gives me practical experience of working for a performance space. 

On campus I usually study in the Edward Boyle library as it has the biggest selection of books for my course, but what I find really useful is the online library. You have access to so many journals and resources that you can download at home. 

There’s lots of support available for postgraduate students. Leeds for Life is a great resource for finding volunteering and work experience opportunities. I found an advert there for an Assistant Designer role with Punchdrunk, a theatre design company in London. I did a two-week placement with them that involved shadowing other designers and helping make props.

Leeds for Life also helps you create a living CV – every time you do something you can add to it. It recommends opportunities based on your experience and new ones you might want to try in the industries you’re interested in. 

I’m currently working with the BBC on a project and have set up my own theatre company with two friends I met at Leeds – our company is under stage@leeds’ Professional Artist Development programme. 

More information 

The Professional Artist Development Programme at stage@leeds provides professional theatre-makers and dance-makers with rehearsal space, technical support, mentoring and management advice. Bobby and Leeds alumni Phil Jones and Callum Douglas have set up their own theatre company, The Toasted Peacocks, under the programme. They debuted their first show Miscellaneous at stage@leeds.