DULOG President and History Finalist: Jen Bullock

This week I sat down with History finalist and DULOG president, Jennifer Bullock, to talk about running the society, musical theatre and the scary prospect of graduation.

For those of you who don’t know, DULOG stands for Durham University Light Opera Group but the society is essentially the musical theatre group in Durham. Jen has been President throughout her final year but has been involved in the society since she arrived in Durham 3 years ago.

“In a really cringey way I had my eye on DULOG before I got to uni. I knew it was something I always wanted to do”. She certainly jumped in head first, making her DULOG debut in the Gala show, Guys and Dolls (when the company moves to the Gala Theatre in Durham for what is the biggest of the 5 shows they put on each year).

Before long Jen was more than just performing, tackling every aspect of the society from working in publicity in her second year to choreographing Kiss Me Kate, the 2016 Gala show. “It was good to just be on the other side. I feel like I learned loads from it and it was good fun.” However, Jen still prefers being on the stage than behind the scenes.

This summer Jen will be taking her final bow for DULOG in her 10th show for the society, with a leading role as Kate Monster in a production of Avenue Q. Poignantly, this is a role that Jen has always wanted to play - although she also tells me that she would really like to tackle the part of Fiona in Shrek the Musical: its “totally random but it’s a great part.”

Musical theatre has always been a big part of Jen’s life, dancing since she was just three years old. “I think that’s how I got into musical theatre in the first place,” she says, “then I went to a theatre school from when I was about 14 and then started doing musicals from there.”

Despite her extensive experience, however, Jen says auditioning is still really scary. Luckily she hasn’t had a disastrous one yet - although during her Spring Awakening audition last year she got her accents a bit confused: “usually all musicals have an American accent to them so for Spring Awakening they said speak in your normal voice and it sounds so stupid but I couldn’t do it. I am never used to acting in my own voice so … I put on a really weird southern British accent.”

Last Michaelmas term she had her biggest audition so far, for the Guildford School of Acting. “It was so scary because they made us sing and do our monologues in front of the entire group.” Whilst writing her dissertation in Epiphany term Jen got the good news and will be taking a place on the musical theatre programme later this year, after which she dreams of getting an agent and auditioning professionally. “I don’t even care if I am just in the corner of the stage having a dance - just put me on a show and I’ll be fine; West End, touring productions - I would go on a cruise ship for 6 months if they want me to.”

As President of DULOG, Jen has worked hard to try and make the society bigger and more inclusive. “Professionalism and inclusivity” is what she calls it. “I think this year we just kind of pushed the limits a bit and thought a little bigger.” DULOG was involved in the National Student Drama Festival this year and has also worked to encourage wider involvement, introducing a workshop on how to audition for musical theatre to the calendar.

As exams end DULOG is now in rehearsal for their big summer production, Avenue Q, which will be running for 5 shows this June after just two weeks of rehearsal! It’s an unusual musical, involving puppets. Jen also warns that it’s definitely quite rude, featuring songs like ‘The Internet Is for Porn’, ‘You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You’re Makin’ Love)’ and ‘Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist’.

“Everyone at some point will be offended by it”, Jen predicts, but they will also definitely relate to the show: “it’s about a guy who has just got an English degree, leaves college and he is trying to find his purpose in life. … It’s so relevant for this time of year.”

It certainly seems the perfect show to leave on. “I feel like people should take bets on when I am going to start crying. It’s going to be such an end of an era,” says Jen. It certainly will, but the musical theatre career of Jen Bullock is clearly just beginning.