The Foot In The Door training fortnight was a wonderful experience: for the first couple of days, meeting in the fire station in Withington, it felt like an unusual thing to be doing, to come in the morning, sit round together and check in – to tell each other how we were all feeling, and what we had been up to the day before, and how we were getting on with what we were learning. I often found myself giggling a bit or saying something silly and immediately regretting it, because it was quite unfamiliar to me, being so open with people I had only met a few times. Then I realised that it was a very supportive space and everyone was great, and that I didn’t need to be worried about anything like that.
I really enjoyed getting to know the other footies on the course: the exercises we were doing meant that we were learning a lot about each other as artists and as people, about what we all prioritised and what had led us to this point in our lives. Everyone on Foot In The Door 2015 is a smart, talented individual with a sense of co-operation and sharing and I’ve really enjoyed spending time with them. Being on Foot In The Door has given me a great network of young creatives and artists of various disciplines and I’m certain we’ll stay in touch.
We had workshops from a variety of leaders and it was fantastic to learn so much, intensely, over a fairly short period. Our very first workshops were led by Anne-Marie Crowther and they combined teaching us skills we’d find specifically useful for working in the arts, and skills for our own individual lives: understandably there was a lot of crossover. One exercise I found extremely helpful was when we all wrote down a self-limiting belief we hold and then through a series of rephrasings discover exactly what it is we find difficult, why, and see how it is actually easier to overcome than we may have thought. I found these periods of reflection really helpful, I’ve not examined my own progress in such a considered way before and it made me feel very encouraged.
I also found Aliki Chapple’s work with us really great: around the time that we were gearing up to give our pitches of ourselves for the Foot In The Door scheme at the Lowry, she helped us write a tight draft to present, gave us some techniques to make us feel calmer while pitching, and went through some really interesting exercises with us about confidence and energy. There was a quite frightening exercise in which we practiced taking turns sitting in a chair about 10 feet away from where everyone else sat: we sat in complete silence for a full minute, feeling everyone’s eyes on us. As a performer I’m used to being watched but I wasn’t prepared for how difficult I would find remaining composed in a fully lit busy room, trying to move and fidget as little as possible. It was tremendously useful for giving the pitch at the Lowry: knowing what the time in which I wasn’t speaking would feel like with everyone watching.
Giving the pitch was a great day too – I was very nervous that I wouldn’t be able to convey my personality and passion for the arts, but everyone was so welcoming, and I especially enjoyed the period at the end of the afternoon, after everyone had pitched, in which we walked around speaking to the arts industry people who’d come to watch us, getting feedback on what we’d done well in our public speaking and what we could do better. It was my first time meeting some of the people I would meet again later in my involvement in 24:7.
Training fortnight was a vital part of Foot In The Door and I had a fab time.