You’re in your living room trying to act out a group routine as your laptop is lagging behind and you haven’t seen any friends in weeks. Not ideal.

Lockdown was tough for everyone – particularly for Priestley College students in the performing arts sector.

And as they approach the latter stage of the year, we got to chat to some of them who went through lockdown disheartened and came out the other side relishing the chance to do what they love again.

Meet Jake Burke, a former Bridgewater High School pupil. He studies drama, English and philosophy at Priestley.

“Drama is one of the hardest subjects,” said Jake. You can try your best to replicate what it would be like in the room but drama is all about interacting with people and without that it was really difficult. It was horrible and not the same.

“I lost faith in my skills as well because you feel you haven’t practised it for ages.

“If a rehearsal room becomes awkward, it catches on and everyone feels it. On Zoom that mentality just breeds.

“Then you’re worried about your Wi-Fi or your parents hearing you. It just doesn’t work as well as in a room with like-minded people, all those barriers are gone.

“It’s really nice to be back and getting to act again because it all suddenly comes back to you again.”


Jake Burke in action

Jake Burke in action


And Ocean Nelson feels the same way.

The 18-year-old musical theatre student added: “Because what we study is quite practical when we were online you lose your passion for it. Trying to dance in your living your – you get fed up and it doesn’t work.

“I wasn’t into it and wasn’t engaged in the lesson so I feel like coming back there is more of a connection between the teachers and the students.

“Coming back and being in a room with everyone else – you realise it is what you want to do after doubting yourself.

“It’s completely different in a studio.

“Because everything has been so up in the air, we weren’t sure that we were going to get any end of year show so the fact that we are now getting one and it’s like ‘oh my god, it’s actually happening’.

“I feel like there was a point where you don’t think it’s achievable anymore because of Covid taking over. Now, it’s surreal it’s here.”

Imogen Cowell, a former pupil at St Gregory's who balances dance, drama, maths A-Levels is relishing being back with people who share her passion – and one that she wants to take beyond college.

“Being back with other like-minded people who want to dance and know they want to dance is so fun,” said Imogen.


Imogen Cowell spoke to us about her experience of the last two years too

Imogen Cowell spoke to us about her experience of the last two years too

A shot from the winter showcase performance

A shot from the winter showcase performance

Action from the A- Level show

Action from the A- Level show


“I don’t think the excitement can be put into words.

“This is what we all love doing and it’s our passion so to not be able to do it for so long and getting to do it again is so exciting. You feel you need to prove yourself as well.”

And Bhaskar Roy, who moved from London a few years ago and studies drama, film and media, has had the challenge of adapting to everything.

The 19-year-old, part of an all-male theatre group called chaos, said: “In performing arts, everyone has to be connected and know each other and over Zoom that is impossible.

“During lockdown, it was pretty hard and at that point, I wasn’t making many friends.

“It’s so enjoyable to be back and performing with others.”

Bhaskar, who has applied for a number of acting courses, added: “I enjoy being back, being able to see facial expressions and feel an audience reaction because you can’t online.”