After leaving school, Diane knew that she wanted to study drama but wasn’t sure about what career path she would go down after graduation. She was attracted to the BA (Hons) Drama and Performance course at Queen Margaret University (QMU) because of the mix of practical and theoretical modules on offer, which she felt would give her a good grounding in whichever direction she chose.

Since graduating from the course in 2014, Diane has undertaken postgraduate study in York and Stockholm and is currently working as a playwright. Most recently, she returned to Edinburgh where her new play Work-Life was performed at the Traverse Theatre.


The course

What did you enjoy most about your course? What were the highlights?

I liked the variety that the course offered - no module felt the same. It was flexible, so I was also able to pick up a couple of film and media modules to complement the drama and theatre ones I was taking.

Were there any particular course activities you found especially interesting?

Working on site-specific performances was both really interesting and challenging, and incredibly useful to have taken part in.

Although it wasn’t specifically linked to my course, I loved working with the Costume Design and Construction students and taking part in their costume showcase.

How did your lecturers support your learning?

The lecturers at QMU were very supportive and helped me to find the element of theatre that I wanted to turn into my career. If I hadn’t taken the third year Playwriting module with Dr Ksenija Horvat, I don’t think I would be doing what I am now.

Do you have any advice for students who might be interested in this course?

Read everything on the reading lists, and then read some more! Access to a university library is something I miss more than I thought I would.

Life as a student at QMU

What's your 'top tip' for making the most of being a student?

Get your work done early, then if you need more time, you have it available to you. When I was a student, I felt like I didn’t have a lot of spare time, but compared to now I had loads! I wish I’d been a little more productive with it.

Join a society or club; I was Vice-Chair of the Drama Society for two years, and that was an invaluable learning curve.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned at university?

If someone suggests you read something, just read it and don’t worry about what other people are doing. Always focus on yourself.

"The lecturers at QMU were very supportive and helped me to find the element of theatre that I wanted to turn into my career."
Diane Stewart, BA (Hons) Drama and Performance
After graduation

Can you tell us about your life post-graduation?

After graduating from QMU, I went to the University of York to study an MA in Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance, before further study at Stockholm University. I also worked for the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland for a couple of years; they fund students and research at Scottish universities. I have also been working as a playwright and have had my work performed at the Theatre Royal York, the Outwith Festival, and by Lyceum Youth Theatre and Strange Town Youth Theatre. I also wrote one of the Breakfast Plays for the Traverse Theatre in 2019. In 2018, I had a play shortlisted for the Young Pleasance Playwriting competition, and in 2019 I became a mentored playwright with Playwrights’ Studio Scotland.

Read Diane's interview in The List.

Photo credit: Richard Campbell