Starting Theatre Studies was a daunting decision for Janis Cheng. She had always loved theatre, but as an international student she was worried her proficiency in English might be an issue. The response she was given from the Theatre Studies programme: “Don't worry, theatre is for everyone”.
“The reason I can speak confidently or write an essay overnight is purely because of Theatre Studies at Otago. I strongly recommend studying theatre to international students – it really helps you to build your self-confidence, your communication skills, and it teaches you how to read and understand people.”
“The staff were really helpful and very knowledgeable. I didn't realise until I came to Wellington just how well respected the Otago lecturers are in the industry.”
“The great thing is the lecturers really care about you – I was lucky enough to be supported by Martyn Roberts to pursue my passion. He was the one who said “these are the things you need to do and this is what the industry needs - if you want a job these are the skills they are looking for.”
Janis's involvement in Allen Hall and the wider Dunedin theatre scene not only taught her a lot, it allowed her to make some great connections that she still continues to benefit from.
“So many well-known theatre practitioners in Wellington and Auckland are actually from Allen Hall. It's like a home base for New Zealand theatre – there are so many actors and directors who started in Allen Hall.”
After her time at Otago, Janis was accepted into Toi Whakaari for a two-year diploma in entertainment technology. Following that, an internship with Multimedia System Wellington lead to full-time employment as a technician. “I've worked as a house tech for TSB arena and events such as WOW, Ellie Goulding and Lorde.”
“Theatre Studies is not just good for people who love theatre but people who have an interest in communication or reading and understanding people. It's so cross-discipline. If you want to learn how to communicate and how to work in a team then study theatre.”