Zoe Finegan O’Toole – BA in Performing Arts (Acting)

Name: Zoe Finegan O’Toole 

From: Drogheda

School: Sacred Heart School, Louth.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to choosing your course: 

My love for Drama began at the age of five when I first attended weekly acting, singing and dancing classes at the ‘Little Duke Theatre’, Drogheda. I did all grades up to grade eight in Drama with the ‘Royal Irish Academy of Music’, RIAM.  I was fortunate to have had lead roles in many productions at the Little Duke Theatre’ to include; ‘Into the Woods’, ‘The Departed’, ‘Cage Birds’ and ‘The Wizard of Oz’.  From these positive, nurturing experiences I decided I wanted to continue with acting studies and complete a Degree in Performing Arts (Acting).   

What specifically about the course do you particularly enjoy: 

I actually enjoyed every aspect of this course as each term brought new areas of interest, new challenges and new learning.   I enjoyed the theoretical work as much as the practical.  While some complex concepts took time to grasp, they were taught in a way that inspired you to grapple with them.  I particularly enjoyed the work of Chekhov and Stanislavski and the application of their techniques into practice in class.  Studying Shakespeare was great fun.  Of course, I thoroughly loved working on performance projects with my classmates.   The friendships I made through working together will always be treasured.  Our lecturers were inspirational as their passion and energy for their subject was infectious.  I hope that one day I can inspire that kind of love in a subject.  I am very thankful to each of them.  

What is the best thing about your course that you think new applicants should know: 

Our course has as many practical elements as it has theoretical.  I loved this aspect and I believe it gives a huge overall grounding because of that.  I enjoyed doing research and learned many skills from the experience.  I gained insight into historical context and found reading the literature broadened my perspective of the world of acting.  If I was to tell new applicants something that might encourage them, it is this:  Be open to new ways of learning; Get into the ring and get embarrassed, it gets easier; Never expect not to be nervous; Take constructive criticism, it will save you so much time; There is learning in every challenge; There is fun in every term; Appreciate the opportunity; See your lecturers as friends and your classmates forever. 

What are your favourite modules on the course? 

My favourite modules on course have been Acting, Movement, Devising Theatre, Acting to Camera and the Dissertation module. 

If you were speaking with a first year student about to start your course, what advice/information would you give them: 

Attendance is super important within this course. When you miss a day you are affecting your entire class. Always show up.  Make friendships and create relationships with your lecturers they will constantly give you support.  

If you are involved in Sport, volunteering, working or have other passions you pursue outside of your academic life, can you tell us about that.  Especially mention any Teams, Clubs or Awards. 

I currently teach acting to young adults with Down syndrome every Saturday via zoom. This inspired my thesis as I decided to write on ‘Teaching acting to young adults with disability through Chekhov technique’.  

What are your plans after ATU Sligo and any long term goals you are aiming for? 

I am heading to St Marys University Twickenham, London to study a PGCE in Primary Education. I plan to gain this extra qualification while I continue to look for screen acting study and work opportunities in the UK and Ireland.  Long term I plan to open my own acting school for both mainstream students and students with disabilities.  

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