A week in the life of ...

Emma Bessent

BA English (Streatham)


At 10.30, I have a 50 minute lecture for my module Desire and Power, taken by Dr. Felicity Henderson. Although I’m a second year, I’ve not met her before; one of the most exciting parts of the English department is that its size and continuous expansion means you’re constantly coming across new academics with new perspectives, helping to expand and sophisticate your own readings. Straight after this lecture, I have another for Theatrical Cultures taken by Pascale Aebischer, the module convenor and my seminar tutor whose enthusiasm and knowledge continuously amazes me. In the evening, friends of mine have a costumed house party and we go to Timepiece, one of the local clubs, after.


Today is my most day of the week. On top of two two hour seminars (one at 8.30!) I have an extra fifty minute context lecture, a two hour meeting with the crew of ShakeSoc’s 48 hour production of The Tempest and a meeting with the SSLC. I’m flat out from 8.30-4.30, but thankfully there’s coffee and doughnuts at the SSLC meeting for me to refuel.


Every other Wednesday, I have my press day for Exeposé; as one of the Arts and Lit editors for the print section, I start work putting together my section at 10am. This is interrupted at 11 with a committee meeting for English Society, laying out our plan of action for our trip to Ottery St Mary on Saturday night and organising publicity for our Christmas ball with the Engineering Society at Reed Hall. I then continue editing, with a break for lunch at the Ram, until half past six. Before I get home, I visit one of the other Tempest crew members to check up on the scenery materials she has sourced.


Intended to be my “quiet”, I manage to pack an awful lot in again today. Before going up to campus at 1.30, I clean my house top to bottom and bake a chocolate cake to fuel me through The Tempest at the weekend. I then have stash sales for English Society, and stay on campus to study until English Society’s event “Behind the Screen with Michael Lesslie”, in which I form part of a panel asking Michael various questions about his career in the film industry.


With The Tempest starting at 8am tomorrow, today is all about sourcing props and checking costumes in preparation in my role as stage manager. I spend a good chunk of the day in town searching high and low for a wooden toy dagger, and the director visits me in the evening to deliver a cache of costumes borrowed from her old school’s drama department.


Today is a long, long day. Rehearsals start at 8am sharp, and I’m there until 5.30, when I then move across campus to the pickup spot for the English Society’s coach to Ottery St Mary’s infamous tar barrel event. This crazy night has to be my favourite of the year so far, despite the stress of ensuring that 53 other people made it back to the coach in time. I get back home just after midnight.


I’m back on campus for 9am. Rehearsals continue, very intensively, until performance time at 7pm. In the day, I fit costumes, build set, string up fairy lights and do some close character work with a few members of the cast. The performance is spine-chillingly brilliant, and after we all head to the Old Firehouse to support the student musical societies that sing there every Sunday (and for some well-deserved cider and pizza). I get home before 1am, and set my alarm for 7 so that I’m up in time for a 9am careers appointment. The madness never ends, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.