Roya Gharbi

Performing on stages such as Her Majesty’s Theatre and The Globe were such awe-inspiring and humbling experiences; it felt surreal to be performing as just a teenager where professionals stood and performed.

Roya Gharbi is studying BSc (Hons) Psychology at the University of Bath and has been selected as an Arts Scholar for 2018-19. Roya shares her theatre experiences and how studying psychology and the complexities of the human mind helps her to perform.

What is your background in your chosen art form?

My interest in the theatre began outside of school at a very young age; I began by taking part in drama summer camps, which is where I first fell in love with performing. However, the bulk of my theatre experience has been through the opportunities I have received within school, being involved in 15 productions over my seven years there – the most recent role I had taken on being LV from The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. Most of these were extra curricular projects, but I also received an A* grade in GCSE Drama, and distinctions in LAMDA musical theatre grades. I also received an award for my performance in Richard III, performed at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. I have since taken the initiative to do more advanced courses and workshops outside of school, including a week long course at the Roundhouse and working twice with the West End Stage musical theatre company to perform at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Performing on stages such as Her Majesty’s Theatre and The Globe were such awe-inspiring and humbling experiences; it felt surreal to be performing as just a teenager where professionals stood and performed.

So far my time at university has been no different to my time at school: within a month of starting here at Bath I got involved in BUST’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, having been cast as Helena. I was also recently cast as Pilar in BUSMS’s production of Legally Blonde, and regularly attend both societies’ workshops.

In singing, I achieved grades 1-7, sang in the school’s Chapel Choir and Jazz Band, with regular live performances, and was also head of our school’s student run gospel choir. In Dance, I achieved ballet grades 1-5, and took jazz and hip-hop classes. I was also cast as the lead role in a new professional musical called “Iridescence”. At university, I was a finalist in Music Soc’s Big Band Idol, and am currently resuming singing lessons – I am very excited and grateful to be able to undertake coaching again.

What are you working on ahead of Platform?

We have been preparing three jazz songs for our Platform performance, and rehearsing each week to prepare.

If you are collaborating with other students tell us a bit about the process and how it’s going?

I am currently working with Maria Carnarius, Damon Protopapa, Dominic Macias and Demetris Ioakim; two musicians, another singer, and a ballroom dancer. It’s been really helpful being able to collaborate with other musicians and I’m really enjoying the process, and adding a dancer in will make our performance much more interesting to watch visually, which I’m really excited about.

Do you find any links between your creativity and your course? 

I definitely find that there’s a link between Psychology and the characterisation side of musical theatre: being able to understand the complexities of the human mind and what drives decision making is imperative in performing realistically as a character. It also helps with writing and directing productions, another passion of mine.

What/Who inspires, influences or drives you?

Many different productions and composers have inspired me: I enjoy listening to musicals by Jason Robert Brown and Andrew Lippa; their soundtracks are so interesting and contemporary with rock-inspired elements that are a lot of fun to listen to. My current favourite musical lyrically is “Matilda” – it’s incredibly witty, charming, and thought-provoking, and it was wonderful seeing something so different from Tim Minchin. Something a lot of the plays and productions I love have in common is that they’re visually appealing – the shadow puppetry when Matilda is telling the escapologist’s story, the more modern lighting effects in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, the iconic moment in “Wicked” where Elphaba is lifted high into the air in Defying Gravity – it takes you out of reality for a moment and brings something more abstract, which inspires so much of my acting and directing.

Puppetry in particular is a real inspiration of mine, and something I’ve worked on in depth through various workshops and in productions of my own: The ability to make an audience believe that any inanimate object can come to life, purely through focusing all of one’s concentration on that object, was so inspiring. We had to self-fund our projects at school, so being able to take an old coat from the costume cupboard and create life and movement completely changed the way I saw theatre – I was completely enamoured by its effects.

Do you have any other creative pursuits?

As well as performing, I began taking a real interest in writing and directing: I’ve written and directed three plays so far and would like to continue working on this skill.

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