Changing the platform of societies to an online format is a challenging task. Anna Blackburn sat down with the Auditor and Events Manager of DramSoc to hear their thoughts.
All returning societies have faced the dramatic challenge of dissecting how their previously regular activities, events and ethos can be translated into an online format. When I first gauged interest in speaking with society-heads on how they managed this transition, the Drama Society (DramSoc) came to mind immediately. How can the connective power of performance be translated in such a way so that new members feel at ease to include themselves? To answer this, I sat down with DramSoc Auditor Niamh Scully and Events Manager Colin Smyth to learn more.
Beginning with the onset of Trimester one, Freshers week, and the challenges its online adaptation may bring in appealing to incoming students, Smyth spoke about the importance of their Public Relations Officer Ryan Haran, in ensuring their social media posts attracted the largest audience possible. Smyth assured us that “All of our events went up on the University’s website to reach the widest audience possible”.
On the planning of events within this online format, Scully spoke about a recent ‘Theatre Makeup Workshop’ that was held online, and an upcoming collaborative event between themselves and the Musical Society (MusicalSoc), which will take the form of a ‘Virtual Pub Quiz’. Scully stressed the importance of “collaborating with other creative societies” due to their shared demographic of Freshers Students. Smyth spoke about their excitement surrounding upcoming virtual coffee mornings as well as Creative Weekly Workshops for those interested in either stage writing or the art of improvisational theatre.
They have not shied away from bringing their creative projects to an online format, as they hosted the ‘DramSoc Diaries’ on Instagram over the summer, in which students were encouraged to submit monologues to then be performed by UCD students with a penchant for drama. These monologues were paired with any UCD student who expressed interest in the performance of them, allowing for both writers and performers of all stages of their study to enjoy the fruits of creative collaboration. The many varieties of engagement that DramSoc employs are, in Smyth’s opinion, what makes it such a “supportive society” for incoming freshers.
This past week DramSoc has put together their own version of Freshers’ Week in order to virtually introduce incoming members to their society. Their events included the aforementioned Makeup Workshop and Coffee Morning, but Smyth told us that their events change weekly to keep up members’ interest. Smyth also mentioned that DramSoc plans to put together a Writers Workshop and an Improv team. However, they expressed their struggles with this. These types of workshops are better suited in person, but Smyth told us that they are working to “make sure we have as many practical workshops and social events as we can on a weekly basis.”
This is good news for everyone hoping to join DramSoc! Over the past two years, Scully and Smyth have been on the committee as Freshers Representatives and they agreed that is easiest to get involved early on. Joining societies early in the year can make it easier to make friends and learn about events because everyone in the society is new and, even if they are returning members, societies come up with new events every year.
Sully made a point to say how lucky they were in being able to use the DramSoc theatre in the Students’ Union to “go in with small working groups, and record workshops with our tech managers and process managers so that it is easier for people to get involved at home and so that when we are allowed back in the theatre, we are able to put shows on that people have a bit of interest in already.”
Shows are the biggest and most exciting part of DramSoc. For those of you who have been lucky enough to see a show performed by the members of DramSoc, the society plans to do their Freshers Projects online this trimester. Scully explains the Freshers Projects as “a new cast of Freshers every single day for a twenty-minute show where older society members basically crash the play and make them improv with them and like throw them into these weird circumstances, which is really good fun”.
It’s clear that Scully and Smyth have the society’s best interests at heart, with loads of workshops and social events planned for the rest of the trimester. While online events are a blessing, especially for those who have chosen not to come back to Dublin, there’s so much missing from societies this year. I asked Scully and Smyth what they missed most, now that DramSoc is online. Scully said that she missed Karaoke which the society puts on during Freshers Week. It’s usually a B.Y.O.B. event in a full theatre and she said “It’s iconic, really. It’s just so fun to end up laughing and singing along with a stranger next to you.” Smyth agreed that there’s nothing like Karaoke night, but he would enjoy a collaborative workshop with MusicalSoc done in the theatre. He says that “there’s nothing like being in a full theatre. The amount of people that are there with the same energy and feeling the same sort of excitement is just the best way to get to know people. That’s what’s really missing.”
In Scully’s words “[DramSoc] has something for everyone”. She expands on this statement by ensuring all incoming students that it is passion, not experience, that they look for as a society. She states: “the people who love DramSoc most are people who perhaps have never done anything theatre-related before and just happened to have a friend who brought them down to the theatre and they then ended up falling in love with tech, or building sets.”
For their parting words, Smyth describes the DramSoc as self-sufficient. “What holds our society together is the people that love connecting with people who love the theatre, we just want it to be a welcome and happy place for everyone”.
You heard it here folks - get joining!
Keep up with DramSoc on their Facebook page UCD DramSoc and on Instagram @ucddramsoc