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Ben Hewis

Ben Hewis - BA Drama and Theatre Studies

Ben Hewis - BA Drama and Theatre StudiesContent and Features Editor, WhatsOnStage

BA Drama and Theatre Studies, 2007

What made you choose Middlesex University?

I chose Middlesex for several reasons. Firstly and probably most importantly, it offered one of the best Drama degrees in the country.

Secondly, the proximity to central London.

Thirdly, the daffodils! Seriously, arriving at the Trent Park campus in the spring was breath-taking!

What attracted you to your course and made you apply?

The backgrounds of the tutors and the facilities were what attracted me to the course. Also, being so close to London was a major factor and meant that I could easily get in to see the latest theatre.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

The practical work and the ability to choose modules to develop the degree that I wanted to do was what I enjoyed the most. This allowed me to develop diverse skills from puppetry to playwrighting.

What were the facilities like at your institution?

The facilities were very good. There was lots of studio space and a state of the art lighting rig. The technicians that they employed were really great too.

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

General student life at the Trent Park campus was great because you had the best of both worlds. Being so close to the hustle and bustle of city life while also being in the beautiful setting that was Trent Park.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?

Make sure you can afford living in London, it's not cheap!

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you get to where you are professionally today?

The theatre knowledge and contacts that I developed at Middlesex helped me get my job in Arts Journalism. I'm now the Content and Features Editor for WhatsOnStage.com

Can you give an example of a time when you put the things you learned at Middlesex to practical use?

The degree taught us about theatre criticism, not just in terms of reviewing shows but also about being critical about the work we produced ourselves. I've used this in both instances, reviewing West End shows for online publications and in improving the quality of my own work that I produce locally.

What made you choose the industry you work in and what are its pros and cons?

I've always loved theatre, since before I can even remember! It's a wonderful industry, so creative and everyone who works in it is so passionate about what they do. In terms of cons, I suppose it's not the best paid industry to work in… Unless you are Cameron Mackintosh or Lord Lloyd Webber.

How did you get your first foot on the career ladder?

After spending several years working in Sales and Recruitment roles to pay off some of my student debt, I decided it was about time to put my skills and knowledge to use. So I set up my own theatre blog, reviewing shows, interviewing stars of theatreland etc.

After a year running my own website, a job came up at WhatsOnStage and I applied for it. They liked the experience that I had built up on my own, and coupled with my degree they deemed me the right candidate for the role.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

I'd have to say some of the interviews I've done. I've only been here four months so far and already I've interviewed the likes of Daniel Radcliffe, David Walliams and James McAvoy.

What are the top three tips you would give to current students and recent graduates who are looking for a similar career to yourself?

Do your own thing – The internet has made it very easy to self-publish. Not everyone can afford to do endless internships, but a personal blog allows you to work around your other responsibilities.

Network – The old adage of "it's not what you know, it's who you know" is so true. Of course you need to know your industry, but getting out there and talking to the movers and shakers in your field is so important.

Have fun – There is absolutely no point in doing something if it doesn't make you happy. Find out what makes you tick, that thing that whenever you think about it, you can feel it in your gut. Then go out there and make it happen.

What one piece of advice would you give to the 17/18 year old you?

Just keep doing what you're doing. But maybe give up smoking and don't take out pay day loans!

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