While studying the BA Acting for Stage and Screen (now Acting and Performance) course at QMU, Sarah Dingwall and her five best friends created their own theatre company, Pretty Knickers Productions. Six years after graduating, Sarah tells us all about her experience at QMU and how the course helped her career.
Why did you choose to study at QMU and what attracted you to the course?
This may sound silly, but I had a gut feeling about the course at Queen Margaret. I had already been accepted at a drama school in London, before finding out about QMU and was preparing to accept my offer. However, when I found out I had been accepted onto the Acting for Stage and Screen course I felt excited, and I knew that there was a great opportunity in front of me. As soon as I found out I had been offered a place I knew immediately that I was going to accept, and it was the best decision I have ever made.
Were there any particular course activities you found especially interesting?
The best part about this course was creating my own theatre company, Pretty Knickers Productions. Not only did I meet 5 of my best friends but we created a company that would still be producing work 6 years on (and counting!).
As part of the one of the modules on our course, we had to create a theatre company that we would eventually take to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This allowed us to be creative with very few limitations and to create work without worrying about funding. The ideas were endless.
"The course also taught us an unforgettable lesson; that when you are in the acting industry and not getting work, you can create your own."
With the support from our lectures and mentors, this course set Pretty Knickers up to continue on after we graduated, creating our own work and allowing us to carry on our passion for acting. That is exactly what we have done.
We performed 'SOB STORY' written by Cal Ferguson and Lewis Lauder in 2018 with the Space on the mile, through the course. It was a thrilling experience and a great success.
Pretty Knickers has gone on to perform in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival every year, performed at Vault Festival in London, performed a Panto, toured around Scotland, achieved 5-star reviews and sold-out performances. We hope to continue with our work until we are old and grey.
The course taught us how to produce, budget, market, sell and enjoy being an actor in a challenging and competitive industry. I can honestly say that the course changed my life, and I am forever grateful.
Do you have any advice for students who might be interested in studying Acting at QMU?
Go for it! By attending QMU you are in one of the best cities in the world (in my humble opinion). With the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on your doorstep, as an actor the possibilities are endless. It is a supportive and creative university with courses that collaborate with all department allowing you to learn and explore other crafts and how they all interlink with one another. The facilities are incredible, and the lectures and staff are friendly and welcoming. I only have fond memories of my time at QMU, I could not recommend this university enough.
What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student? What was the most valuable lesson that you learned at university?
Being a student at QMU was amazing. I felt supported by the lecturers, and I made so many friends who I still speak with on a daily basis. My ‘top tip’ would be to enjoy every second because once it's over you realise it truly was the best days of your life! My most valuable lesson I learnt at university is if you work hard, you can get a first-class degree!
Can you tell us about your life post-graduation?
Pretty Knickers started at the Free Fringe in 2017 in a small room on Market Street to Assembly Roxy in 2023 with sell out shows. We received a great reception at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival with our play ‘Salamander’ written by Calum Ferguson and Mhairi McCall (one of the Knickers) and we hope to tour in the near future.
Our main goal is to champion untold female stories, in a playful and poignant manner. Thanks to QMU we now have the platform to do just that.