As part of the Foot In the Door scheme, we have had the opportunity to attend some great workshops on all sorts of different aspects of working within theatre, and the arts in general.
For me a personal favourite was a talk by Sharon Stoneham on stage management, an area that I am particularly keen to get into. In a short amount of time, she gave us a lot of practical advice, taking us through the roles and duties of a stage manager before going through some ‘does and don’ts’ as well as offering anecdotes from her own experiences. Whilst I had come across some of the points in my own past experiences, some of her advice, particularly on writing rehearsal notes, was entirely new to me and it was good in general to be able to write down such a thorough list of what to remember for next time that I take on a stage management role.
Similarly the producing workshop proved a lot more useful to me than I had previously thought it would, not being sure exactly what a producer was. As we were quite quickly made aware of, the role of a theatre producer is not a concrete one, and in small theatre companies it often falls to several people to take up the various aspects of the jobs: from organising funding to setting dates and venues for touring. As I am sure at some point I will have to deal with at least some of these tasks, it was great to get honest advice from people with experience not only of when things go right, but also when they might go slightly awry. Our final task of plotting out a production timeline from initial idea to first night proved particularly enlightening in showing exactly how much has to be done in what is a relatively small amount of time.
The design workshop which followed this also gave us a lot of practical advice, not only on what the job entails, but also on a more day to day scale; where to rent/buy props from, how to make certain texturised effects on the set, what to consider whilst touring etc. We were able to have a good look at the examples of their work that they had brought with them, and were even able to make our own to scale ‘mini-mes’ at the end!
Whilst these were the three workshops which I enjoyed the most, we had plenty more besides on everything from health and safety to setting up our own theatre companies. The Foot In the Door scheme has definitely given us a good overall idea of what sort of careers we might consider within the arts. It also great to hear from professionals about their own experiences and always useful to be given some friendly, honest advice!