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Lecturer Donna Soto-Morettini: ‘Stay curious, open and adaptable – happiness comes in many forms’

Donna Soto-Morettini is senior lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University

How did you start in dance/performance?

I began as a singer aged 15. There were many live music venues in Orange County, southern California where I grew up. From playing in small clubs along the coast I moved into working with bands including folk, rock, jazz and musical theatre. After many years as both a live and recording artist I went back into higher education, training as an actor and director before moving to the UK.

What is your advice for students?

Don’t narrow your goals. Between all other uncertainties, the job market will evolve rapidly and profoundly over the next few decades, and students who study acting/performance (and understand the importance of communication, imagination, and collaborative/creative problem-solving) are well placed to make a contribution to a fast-changing economy. Stay curious, open and adaptable – and remember that happiness comes in many forms.

What would you change about training in the UK?

I would make it less narrow and make sure students leave with a greater understanding of the breadth of transferable skills they have.

What is the best part of your job?

Being paid to teach someone about Shakespeare or Sondheim.

And your least favourite?

The ever-increasing admin and bureaucracy of higher education in the UK.

Who are the practitioners you admire the most/who should students look up to?

Some of my ex-students, who write, produce, direct their own material, form viable companies and create work for themselves rather than waiting for it to come to them.

What is the one skill that every successful theatre/dance professional should have?

Muscular imagination.

Donna Soto-Morettini was talking to John Byrne

Is drama school really the only route to a career in the performing arts? [1]