Freshers’ Features: Drama Society

Ahead of term, REGINA CO interviews society president, LILY POUYDEBASQUE (she/her) on expanding the scope of Drama Soc for this year.


This year, Era Journal’s Theatre section is featuring the societies that make up UCL’s bustling theatre scene. For the third of these features, we turn to Drama Society. One of the busiest societies at UCL, Drama Soc runs a range of events: from two shows at the Bloomsbury Theatre this year, to regular showcases and play watches. It’s no wonder that it is one of the leading drama societies in the UK.


Lily Pouydebasque. Image courtesy of the interviewee.


How would you sum up Drama Soc in three words?


Ridiculous. Hectic. Dramatic.


As we all know, the performing arts scene at UCL is a little bit out of this world. There are so many people with so much potential, it’s often difficult to believe. Can you tell me what Drama Soc is planning on doing with this incredible environment?


I’m looking forward to reaching out, whether that’s to theatres in London, to other Drama Societies in universities around the city, or societies within UCL.


Our committee is a really amazing, enthusiastic group of people. One of our aims this year is to connect with organisations outside of Drama Society. Hopefully we can liaise on talks, workshops, performances and collaborate in general.


We all want to see its reputation increase outside of the realm of UCL. We have this incredible theatre with an almost 550-seat capacity, as well as hundreds of incredibly talented actors and writers who I feel come up with scripts faster than professionals. We also have creative directors and producers who make productions possible while working on their degrees. Not to mention the costume designers, set designers, makeup artists… the list goes on!


Drama is about connecting and I hope we will achieve this to the best of our abilities.


A Drama Soc workshop. Image courtesy of the interviewee.



Fantastic! Your passion for the community is very evident and very commendable. On a more personal note, how has Drama Soc made an impact on you?


Drama Society has completely shaped my UCL experience. Before coming to uni, I spent most of my time between drama rehearsals and within the comforting walls of theatres; those were my happy places. However, enrolling at UCL meant moving countries, being a stranger to everyone, and living in a big city for the first time (not to mention in the midst of the pandemic). Thus, I immediately followed everything Drama Society was doing. I eventually got cast in the two Bloomsbury shows, but lo and behold: they got cancelled.


So, what was it like to go back into it when things were opening up again?


In my second year, I tried the process again and luckily got cast again for Electra and Machinal. I immediately felt comfortable with the casts and got into fits of laughter each rehearsal. I felt part of a community again.


This may be a personal feeling, but I sense that, in any theatre troupe, you discover a common energy of stupidness, enthusiasm and open mindedness (an atmosphere I love!). I felt at home and happy again after a long period of loneliness which comes with being hauled into the hectic world wind  of being a student in a big city. I think the ultimate proof of how much the society has impacted me is running for President, so that I’m constantly at the heart of Drama Soc.


Behind the scenes at Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal. Image courtesy of the interviewee.


Thank you for sharing that with us. You’ve spoken about feeling a sense of community in the performing arts. Do you have a funniest memory from your time in the theatre societies?


This was actually during the performance week for the Bloomsbury show “Electra”. In one scene, Clytemnestra’s body (played by one of the actors) had to be covered by a custom blood-stained blanket, which the actor’s body then had to try to break through.


However every single performance night, the blanket ripped a little while we were performing the scene. The last night, the blanket was absolutely shredded and what was left was a measly parcel of cloth covering the actor’s body who wasn’t dressed (or looked) at all like Clytemnestra. It looked ridiculous and hilarious on stage, and as if that wasn’t enough, the actor next to me was having a stream of inside burbs. It was so hard to control myself laughing I had to pretend I was crying. Our daily “my big fat pony” dance was also magical.


Backstage at Electra. Image courtesy of the interviewee.


What would you say to people who think that your society is not for them?


That drama soc is for everybody!


First – drama is not only for actors but also for producers, directors, costume designers… there are so many areas where anybody can try out a potential interest or a new skill.  You don’t even have to love theatre to get involved – maybe you simply enjoy starting a project and working with people to see your vision come to fruition.


Second, Drama Society doesn’t necessarily mean learning lines, going up on stage and performing. We have so many workshops lined up this year where students can explore, learn and play with numerous acting techniques, even if you don’t think you’re a particularly “skilled” actor or you may be confronted with stage fright. Not to mention, Drama Society has a large, diverse, and outgoing community to get acquainted with!


Mentally Ill Gaysians at Drama Society’s New Writing Festival in 2022. Image courtesy of Victoria Lee.


So what events do you have lined up for this year?


This year Drama Society will be running its usual events as well as introducing new exciting projects. One of them is the BAME showcase scheduled near the end of October, led by our Diversity and Inclusion Rep, Germaine, in collaboration with other POC cultural societies and the BME student officer.


Moreover, we hope to strengthen our relationships with other universities in London and societies at UCL. In October we will be advertising the role of External Relations Officer, who will be liaising with the latter to organise talks, socials, and workshops.


Near the beginning of October, auditions will commence for our first Blooms show, King Charles III, and not long after, students can audition for our second Bloomsbury show, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Around the same period, bids will open for the Term 1 shows and the Pride Showcase.


In Term 2, we will of course be renewing our New Writing Festival. For now, members can look out for our freshers events advertised on our social media including a picnic social, presentations, play-watches, our fair scheduled on the 2nd of October and two performances on campus on the 29th of September. On the first week of October, we also have our freshers’ plays, organised around the structure of “a play in a day”!  We will soon equally be advertising a Drama Society masquerade ball!


Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal at the Bloomsbury Theatre. Image courtesy of Hasha Dar.


For more information, visit the Drama Society Instagram account (@ucldrama). The society also has a Whatsapp group chat which can be found on the Instagram page.