The arts world, as many will tell you, can be a notoriously difficult world to get into. Since its inception in 2004, 24:7 has been about finding, nurturing and developing creative talent. Experience, skills and ability are all important, but who and what you know can be just as vital, as well as having the ability – and the confidence – to network with other artists and creative practitioners. Combine all these things and you have a real opportunity to make positive and practical steps towards a career.
Foot In The Door 2015 – run by 24:7 Theatre Arts is a professional development programme designed specifically to offer young people hands on experience and training within the creative industries, funded by Arts Council England and Awards for All.
Participants in the scheme develop key skills and qualities appropriate to working as a freelancer in arts marketing, event promotion, theatre production and project management. They will receive a tailor-made placement in line with their personal aspirations and the support to develop the strengths they will need for the future.
We are delighted to have worked with Colour the Clouds Theatre, Box of Tricks Theatre, Monkeywood Theatre and Dreamscope TV as placement companies in 2015, as well as collaborating with PANDA, The Lowry, The Producers’ Network and somewhere_to on the 2015 workshop programme.
Furthermore, 24:7 is a registered Arts Award Centre and Arts Award Supporter. We offer nationally recognised qualifications to support anyone aged up to 25 to grow as an artist or arts leader.
In 2014 15 trainees were either: attached to one of the ten 24:7 productions to get hands-on experience of developing a Festival show; assisted the Festival Manager in the delivery of specific projects; a videographer with Dreamscope TV, 24:7’s official film production partner; with PANDA; or at Manchester’s Craft and Design Centre.
The FITD scheme has a proven track record in supporting trainees, allowing them to help shape their future careers whilst learning all the way.
MORE INFORMATION ON OUR LATEST EMPLOYABILITY TRAINING WEEK AND HOW TO APPLY: http://www.247theatrefestival.co.uk/blog/2016/03/12/forging-your-career/
Matt is a director and writer with a background in performance. He has been either side of the stage on many shows and his favorite directing duties include Singing In The Rain and ‘Allo ‘Allo. His last project was working on The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (Assembled Junk Prod.) as Assistant Stage Manager and Assistant to the Director . He is thrilled to be on FITD as part of the 24:7 Festival and is looking forward to developing as a Manchester emerging theatre-maker.
Shaun studied Law and Environmental Science at the Australian National University where he also directed, acted and designed theatre productions. He has since directed a production of The Sound of Music and is currently is involved with the Contact Young Company. Having established himself on developed scripts, he is currently interested in collaborating with others to create new work exploring pressing social justice issues.
Jenny graduated from the University of Huddersfield in 2012. As well as continuing to train and perform, she has gained experience as Workshop Facilitator, Front of House Manager and Administrator. Jenny is enthusiastic and committed to reaching and working with people from across the community as a theatre practitioner. Through her FITD placement, she aims to hone her current skills, and develop those she needs to build a career in Theatre and Community Outreach.
Lenni is a recent graduate of English Literature and Creative Writing at Lancaster University. She is a writer and performer with a strong interest in organising and facilitating arts events. With a background in poetry, recently her work has diversified into working on theatre orientated pieces and sound-editing spoken word EPs. She is very excited to be involved in Foot In The Door, gaining practical experience in her early career.
After graduating from Cardiff University, I’ve been trying to get as much experience working backstage as possible. I’ve stage-managed at the Edin-burgh Fringe and crewed at Cardiff’s New Theatre, as well as completing placements with the Thalia Theatre, Hamburg, Sell A Door Touring Company, the Welsh Millennium Centre & the ATG West End group. I’m very excited to be working with Monkeywood at the Lowry.
Tabitha is about to graduate from Salford University with a degree in Drama and Theatre. Alongside this, she has trained in the Royal Exchange Theatre’s Young Company for the past two years. Tabitha has taken on the role of actor, director, writer and publicity in her past productions. Now, she is looking to set up her own children’s theatre company and gain more experience within the industry.
I’m Paul and about to graduate from Salford University. During my time in Salford I’ve written, directed, stage managed and performed, as well as acted in over a dozen outside of University. I see myself as Playwright/ Performer and hope to set up my own Theatre Company, as well as being a freelance writer. 24:7 has been a turning point in my career – I’m fully enjoying being immersed in the arts.
Chloe is about to graduate from The University of Salford with a degree in Performance: Drama and Theatre. She has been involved in a variety of projects whilst at University including a murder mystery set in 2014 Salford and a verbatim one woman show about hate crime. Chloe is an actress and a writer, but is looking forward to learning about how everything works back stage and meeting new people.
Christopher trained as an Actor in Edinburgh and graduated in 2013. Since then he has performed in Theatre, TIE, Street Performance, Pantomime and Film and has recently moved to Manchester. Christopher hopes to gain new skills in the back stage areas, build contacts, experience and hopes to create productions in both film and theatre alongside his acting career.
Will is a recent performance graduate from the University of Salford, where he performed in a variety of shows, including Contact Theatre’s To Russia With Love in 2014 and Doormat and Hallway present ‘Something Partially Funny’. Alongside acting Will has experience in PR and events management. Will is keen to take advantage of the thriving theatre scene in Manchester.
I graduated from the University of Salford with a Degree in performance and Theatre. Since then I has been involved in a number of projects for both Theatre and TV. In July my play The Madcap Laughs was performed at the Nowt Part Festival and I’m involved in the production of The Fey (Bewilderest Productions). I’m enjoying my time with FITD; working alongside professional mentors and speakers.
The Foot in the Door process started with a bunch of young people sitting in a room in Withington, silently waiting to see what would happen, no one saying a word. Flash forward six days later and you couldn’t get them to be quiet! We walked through Piccadilly Gardens envisioning a major goal of our own, we wrote timelines of our lives and we learnt a breathing exercise that has been proven to lower the heart rate!
After the intensive week we had a series of workshops held in various locations across Manchester and covering a variety of topics. This gave us a chance to learn more about areas we were interested in but also to dip our toes into areas that may become our new interest!
My favourite workshop was the Directing in the Round workshop at the Royal Exchange. We started with a background and history of the Royal Exchange which included some fascinating insights including (my favourite) that the theatre is held up by beams which are secured into the marble poles because if the stage was placed on the floor the weight of it would make it fall through the floor! We then went back into the main space and learnt some of the basics about directing in the round, including that all energy should be directed towards the centre. Then we had a chance to work in groups to write and stage our own piece in the round (in about 20 minutes!). Our piece was about a couple who both saw their relationship very differently. We were progressively given instructions to not only build the piece so it would perform better in the round but also instructions that helped us develop the actual content. Not only was it a fantastic experience to be acting on stage at the Royal Exchange but also to get an insight into how pieces in this context are created.
We also learnt from Sharon Stoneham what a massive job a stage manager has, and people often don’t even know the half of it! Sharon generously went into great depth with us as to what a stage manager needs to do and keep on top of. She showed us her toolkit (which included, amongst other things, needle and thread, a hammer and tape). We saw what a stage manager’s script looks like after a production and how the stage manager needs to have an idea of what is happening in all the different departments. If an actor forgets if they move upstage or downstage at any point, then it is the stage manager who should be able to answer their question. The first in, and the last out, and no production would be possible without them!
Finally, a workshop that answered many of the questions I’d long been curious about was the Producing workshop with representatives from Art with Heart and The Octagon. How do you approach a venue with a show? How do you get producers to see your show? What does it take to apply for arts funding? And what exactly is a producer? That answer was never, and possibly never can be, answered. It varies so much depending upon the context of the show, the budget and the different skills and interests of the people involved. They went through what to include in the email you send to venues – photos, reviews, the synopsis – and how to grab their attention. But also to be understanding that you may send a hundred emails and get one reply and not to be discouraged. Everyone is going through this, especially at the beginning of their careers. We also looked at a hypothetical timeline of a production and when different tasks would need to be completed by. Although I’ve directed productions before it was interesting to see how other people space things out and when they see certain tasks should be completed by.
All these workshops shared valuable ideas, developed new skills and provided a deeper insight into a different area of theatre!
Probably the area in which my knowledge has increased the most as a result of being part of the Foot In the Door programme is that of the Manchester theatre scene. Living in Liverpool, and rarely visiting, I had no idea how much was on offer both in large well-known theatres and in the fringe. I have certainly learnt a lot about the type of companies that are starting to develop in Manchester, the many schemes there are for young theatre makers and even about the geography of it- the many small drama spaces there are dotted around the city. This is certainly a knowledge I hope to use in the future, and has definitely encouraged me to make that train journey through more often!
My education has not just stalled there though; I have also picked many practical skills along the way. Whilst they might not all be entirely relevant to my future goal of being a stage manager, they will certainly make me a better person to work with, for I can now better appreciate the demands a producer has to deal with or why designers are so exacting when it comes to the use of their creations. Having the confidence to speak in front of a group of people, or at least the knowledge that I have done so before without falling apart, will certainly come in handy and is not necessarily something I would have had much opportunity to practice otherwise.
On a more personal level, I have been very lucky in that during my time on the programme I was accepted onto a MA course and so now have a definite idea of what I will be doing for the next year. Even without this though, the initial training week made me really reflect on everything I had done up to this point and what I still hoped to achieve, and most importantly how those two things could be linked. Taking the time to do this helped make my aspirations a lot clearer. I may now be on a training course for the career I want to go into, but, as this experience has taught me, I won’t just rely upon that and will make an effort to keep gaining more experience on the side.
One of the nicest things I have learnt from Foot In the Door is that I am not alone in being new in this field. After many placements shadowing professionals with many years of experience, it was very reassuring to meet a whole group of people who, like me, are just starting off in their careers and maybe are still a bit unsure of the next step.
Well, I hope they work it out and wish them all the very best of luck for the future!
We are the Multitude smashed the 24:7 Big Festival Weekend and then went on tour to Liverpool’s Lantern Theatre!
I’ve never helped a show go on tour before and therefore didn’t know what exactly to expect. Just the weekend before the show had seen four wonderful performances playing to great crowds and to great acclaim so going on tour should be seamless, right? It a lot of ways yes, the cast did a fantastic job and Katie Scott’s set looked just as beautiful but some adjustments had to be made because the space wasn’t exactly the same. How inconvenient!
We arrived at the theatre for a lunchtime get-in and tech to find, as Katie already knew, that the space was smaller than the Martin Harris Centre in length, depth and breadth. This meant that the space for the onstage action was more limited and the space within which the set had to fit was going to be more of a squeeze. The window had to be lowered down on its stand as when in its original position it hit the ceiling. The width of the desk dividers also had to be reduced. And there was another challenge – the wings that were downstage left and right in Martin Harris were now just walls. So with some cable ties and spare wing material Katie made some wings, but they were however now upstage. So when Lisa and Simon blockade the entrance with the chairs and tables it would now be in a different part of the room.
Not big changes (and ones that the actors adapted to seamlessly) but it did make me think about how plays that tour must need to adjust to each space they enter. Lighting rigs may differ, dimensions of the stage may change, entrances and exits may move slightly from show to show. What other challenges (or equally opportunities) may each new venue unveil? May performing in one venue, where changes need to be made, present different ways of presenting the material?
But back in Liverpool, once the set had been rejigged, the lighting reprogrammed and after the actors had a run through, then it was ready for the show! The actors put on a great performance on the Wednesday night and the audience loved it. Hopefully this won’t be the end of We are the Multitude touring and adapting to new spaces. The hard work of Amy, Andy, Laura, Liz, Flora and Katie deserves to be shared more with the wider theatre community!
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!
Find Luke’s blog here: http://247theatreon24mm.weebly.com
Over the past year I have been very lucky in getting placements on all sorts of different productions. But whilst I may have sat through tech and dress rehearsals and actual runs, I had not yet been able to see a professional production at its very start in the rehearsal room. That was until I was put on a placement with Monkeywood Theatre’s ‘Uprising’; a one-night script-in-hand show which was to be the culmination of a more long term project to help four playwrights develop new pieces of work.
Given that the focus of the project was on the texts themselves, rather than creating a finished piece, I had ample opportunity to see how the writers, directors and actors approached the script from the initial read through to more detailed discussions about particular scenes, characters and plot details. As there were actually four writers, two directors and ten actors involved overall I was also able to see different ways of going about this, whether that was to read through the script in its entirety a couple of times and then discuss it or to stop and start as they were reading through.
I was encouraged to take part in the discussions and it was interesting to see how the writers were taking on board all the suggestions and were keen to change elements of the script which didn’t work as well when read aloud. I also noticed that although the director was clearly in charge of the rehearsal space and deciding the plan of action, everybody was still very much a team giving useful criticism and working together on any queries that were thrown up. The actors had also obviously thought through the type of person their characters were and were keen to discuss background and motivation with the writers. For me it felt as though from that initial read through, the script became somehow jointly owned by all the members of the company, with everyone helping to develop it and keen to make it successful, which was fascinating to see.
Although only twenty minutes of each play was to be used, with only a table and some chairs for a set, the company added some movement into each piece. Whilst not every stage direction was acted upon, and many were simply read out, it was still possible to see how the script went from being a text read aloud to a piece of theatre simply by the addition of movement and expression. For the actual ‘show’ the actors sat along the side of the stage and simply moved into the centre for the particular plays that they were involved with. The simplicity of this set up, with lines being read from the script, basic lighting and only entrance and exit music to distinguish between the different plays, allowed the focus to continue being on the content of the texts themselves. This lead to a Q and A session at the end with the writers, which again showed to me how differently people interpret plays.
And with that my time with Monkeywood Theatre came to an end! However I will definitely an eye out for those four scripts to be turned into polished productions, and look forward to seeing how much more they have changed by then!
What a weekend!
“The Butterfly’s Adventure” went down a treat. It was great to see so many people engaging with Martin and the other characters; even those who didn’t sign up tagged along with the promenade, and were more than welcome! As expected, there were a few site-specific staging challenges on the day, but nothing the Scallywags couldn’t handle. Three shows later, we were tired out, but very pleased with what we’d accomplished. The feedback received from children of all ages and sizes(!) was very encouraging; it was great to hear that they enjoyed the production as much as we did!
It was a delight to watch the other productions, too. The variety and quality achieved by a relatively down-sized festival was inspiring. I was very pleased to see the other Footies and their achievements. I especially enjoyed catching up with everyone at the Evaluation meeting, and sharing in the successes and challenges faced since we embarked on our placements. People had clearly incorporated the skills they picked up through workshops, and gained further understanding throughout the course of their placements.
Now the dust has settled (or rather, glitter!), it’s good to take time to reflect on the placement, as we learned to do during training. I had a great time working with Scallywags, particularly as they were so encouraging and open to my creative ideas. There was ample opportunity for me to incorporate and develop the skills I learned through the supplementary workshops, particularly in terms of marketing and producing. I have continued to use these skills in promoting my other projects.
Over the course of this placement, I have met some interesting, inspirational and encouraging people, who have shared, challenged, and confirmed my own views of the industry. I have learned how to be more receptive and open myself to others, and to do so confidently and conscientiously. Most importantly, my enthusiasm as a person and a practitioner has been welcomed and encouraged by other professionals as I have gained new practical skills, fortifying my belief that I am in an industry and a community that I can flourish in.
Jenny Owen, checking out
It was the moment we’d all been waiting for, the moment we’d all been anticipating, the long awaited 24:7 Big Weekend was finally here.
Walking into the Martin Harris Centre on Friday morning I almost immediately felt a new ‘buzz’. A buzz of excitement at what was to come, a buzz of creativity as everyone anxiously awaited their first performance, and a dose of nerves – and all of this combined made us all feel, what I like to call, a little nervxicted.
With the final dress rehearsal done, there was nothing to do but wait for our call time. It arrived quicker than any of us could have imagined – one minute I was enjoying a Fentiman’s Cherrytree Cola (Very nice, I assure you), the next I was carefully placing boxes into set rows, placing props in the correct boxes. Checking them, double checking them, triple checking them, quadruple checking them – and checking them a bit more. But alas the time came and so with it, the first performance of Gary: A Love Story.
It was with a huge relief that the performance went as well as we could have imagined with beautiful performances by both Reuben and Craig. As the night drew to a close I felt a deep sense of pride. We’d done it, suddenly it felt real.
The following nights went just as well if not better, and Gary was well received by each and every audience member. But around Gary, I was thrilled to be able to fit in a plethora of other performances and activities. It was a joy to see what everyone else had been up to and watch and then celebrate their creations with them. There was a true sense of community spirit as everyone rushed around, Artist or Staff Pass in hand, trying to catch each and every bit of magic 24:7’s Big Weekend had to offer.
For me personally, two of the most memorable shows I saw were the monologues (which I attended on Sunny Saturday – hurray! Good judgement and timing there!) and the children’s show, ‘A Butterfly’s Adventure’ by Scallywags. Both were styles of theatre I wouldn’t usually indulge in – the first because I hate getting rained upon and so any such risk is avoided and the second? Well, when you don’t have any kids and your nieces are a bit too cool for ‘that’ – you don’t get the chance to see children’s theatre. However, I thoroughly enjoyed both – in fact, I probably enjoyed the Scallywags’ performance a little too much – I’m definitely a big kid!
But alongside brilliant shows and rehearsed readings sat workshops and on the Sunday I was fortunate to attend an ‘Acting Q&A’ with the brilliant Julie Hesmondalgh. I spent a thoroughly enjoyable, insightful and inspiring hour listening to Julie speak about her journey and it was a joy to talk to her later on in the day.
But Sunday also held a tinge of sadness. It was Gary’s last performance and therefore our last day with our brilliant director, Danielle, who had to return to London and also the closing party of 24:7 (which was a thoroughly enjoyable event).
Following 24:7 Team Gary went to Liverpool, where after another super performance, we all went out and finally celebrated. One quick drink turned into lots of quick drinks… Soon regretted the morning after when we all had to get up early and return to our various hometowns.
Working with Team Gary has been an utter pleasure, a joy and a privilege. We’ve had our ups (Finding Jukeboxes on eBay), our downs (Reuben falling through the boxes), we’ve had our 5 star reviews (Next to The Skriker’s 4 star review in the Skinny – thanks guys!) and finally, we won the Equity Vicky Allen Memorial Award for Best 24:7 play. I am honoured to have played a part in Team Gary and will be forever thankful to everyone at 24:7 for allowing me the opportunity to take part, live new experiences, but most importantly? Make new friends.
Last weekend brought the end of the 24:7 festival to a close, I managed to find time to pop down and watch ‘Gary: A Love Story’, which was well worth the wait as it proved to be a finely written, produced and well acted piece of Theatre in the wonderful Martin Harris theatre space, being a space I know all too well. From what I witnessed the festival weekend was a huge success and I was really happy for everybody involved, right through from the organisers of the festival, to the actors, directors, everybody backstage and of course my fellow footies, as everybody worked so hard and their work really paid off, which is always great to see.
Of course with the festival ending, so too does my time with the ‘Foot in The Door’ scheme. I have really enjoyed being a part of the process, watching my fellow footies grow into their work, showing what they can do. Everybody who has come into this scheme has come out the other side a more developed professional, you can see the hunger and extra drive that the course gives you, that’s what makes this such a special scheme to be a part of, as you’re right in the action. I have made friends and important contacts through my time with 24:7, and I would recommend it to anybody looking for a career in the arts, as you learn so much, and the time that the people involved put in to help you is extraordinary, and you will be hard pushed to find a better place to get your foot in the door.
I’m now entering what is sure to be a busy period for Box of Tricks, they are now back from a well earned holiday and putting forward the preparations for their play Narvik, with the performance on in September. Before the break I helped Adam change the office around, as it was a bit chaotic due to half the set from their last show ‘Plastic Figurines’ still remaining there. It took the whole day, but in the end it was quite fun and rewarding, as the office space looked a lot more presentable, I was also allowed to throw in some suggestions of my own, and I got to see a few future plans that the theatre company had for the future, such as writing events and possibly letting other companies use a section of the office. I felt I also gave a good impression of myself, as cleaning an office isn’t everybody’s cup of tea as it doesn’t have a great deal to do with theatre, (although it does if you’ve worked on a show with a get out in the morning) but because I helped out it showed that my interests lie with helping the company, rather than looking out for myself, and I believe that is the right attitude to have when going on a theatre placement.
Now that we’re back in the office, I’ve gone back over the contact emails that I supplied Adam with for marketing, and I am now creating personalised invitation emails for each of the contacts inviting them to come and see Narvik. It’s a difficult task because it takes a lot of time, consideration and eye for detail, as you are making an invitation for a professional level, and requiring to also show that you’ve researched each contact and shown just as much interest in them, as you are hoping they show as much interest in you and your project in return, rather than just copying and pasting the same paragraph over and over again.
It’s a nice and relaxing atmosphere in the office, we’re either listening to music on the radio whilst we work, or the cricket will be on, I don’t really understand cricket, I’m more of a football person, but Adam seems to enjoy it, so each to their own…I’m going to stick to my football though. I’ve learnt a lot so far during my time here, seeing how Adam and Amy work, the amount of time they spend securing funding, planning out every stage, how much detail they put into every aspect. I’ve been really grateful for the time they have invested in helping me develope and making me feel a welcome part of their company and the process as a whole, and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the time I have with them. And finally I am very thankful to Foot In The Door for giving me the opportunity to work with the company, I will never forget this invaluable experience in what I hope will be a long and fruitful career in the arts.
24:7 gave me my first experience of stage managing, and also my first involvement in a promenade production. I have a new awareness of the significance of space in a performance after this weekend: the Brief Encounters took place around a square on campus, each monologue performed in an evocative or appropriate area for its time period, setting or the character. The varied styles of architecture in the square was really helpful for helping us establish each piece’s mood, period, or style. For example in JoJo Kirtley’s It’s Not For The Likes Of Us, Steph Reynolds performed as a prospective student at Manchester University open day, sitting down at a picnic table to eat jam sandwiches next to the contemporary-looking cafe, and looking around at the tall buildings surrounding on all sides. For Ruth Evans’ performance of Jane Tonge’s Tracing Stars the sizeable area of circular green space worked well with the actor’s wellington boots to give a outdoorsy, open, feel and you could almost forget you were in the city centre.
On Friday our audience was outside experiencing the Brief Encounters monologues in a light drizzle. Saturday drew larger audiences for both performances, and because there was no audience seating apart from the benches already in the square, it was interesting to see the audiences flow into position organically around each actor. It was also a lovely sunny day so people were more willing to sit on the benches and probably a bit happier to be walking around outside. The final performance on Sunday was moved into the bar because the rain was so heavy that it would have been uncomfortable for the audience and actors. It was a shame to have to move it indoors, because the element of walking from performance to performance was lost, but the actors portrayed their characters inside the bar really well, with some inventive entrances and exits providing a sense of movement still.
For the outdoor performances, to give the audiences some idea of where they might be walking to, we used big numbers in pink chalk on the ground: also one large blue arrow leading up to the square, and a 24:7 logo I stencilled. It was quite difficult to see and some audience members didn’t really see it. It proved most useful for the fifth performance, Sue Blundell’s Treasure, in which the audience don’t immediately see a performer, and then John Smeathers comes up striding along the path and begins his performance – the big 5 on the ground was a helpful visual reference for the audience to know when to stop walking. On the whole I think the chalk added to the square for those who saw it, and those who didn’t see it didn’t need to, because it wasn’t an essential part of the performance. I think it was a nice touch.
I’ve learned a lot about how to use outdoor spaces and promenade from working on Brief Encounters. I’m very grateful to the actors and directors I was working with for being very understanding about this being a very new experience for me, and also to 24:7 and Foot In The Door for giving me the opportunity.
In May, I began my FITD traineeship. I was assigned the outdoor monologues project to work on, which was really exciting for a lot of reasons: the kind of performance I am interested in most does tend to be small short pieces like these five minute monologues; it was outside (how you make a set or performance space outside is something I had never really considered before and which interests me a lot); and because I come from a background of literature moreso than live performance I was delighted when I was asked to read over the monologue submissions and help choose.
I was supervised very supportively on my placement by Ian Townsend, who right at the start sent me a shortlist of twelve – a number we halved in the run up to the festival. I really enjoyed reading through and helping come up with a list of ones that would go together well and complement each other as part of a complete performance, and which were most suited to outdoor promenade performance. The shortlist of twelve was very exciting to read because they were all so different, approaching the theme of Manchester’s scientific history in lots of creative ways. It made me think in a new way, trying to select monologues not just based on each piece as an individual, but in terms of how they might fit together, inform each other, provide a good mixture of different settings and styles: I feel like part of my role was helping to curate a selection.
It’s Not For The Likes Of Us, Looking Through John Dalton’s Eyes, Four Hundred Yards, Tracing Stars, Treasure, and Miracle (the six we selected as the final choices) are all varied, imaginative, and captivating to read or watch. It’s been great seeing them develop and change over the various edits and it was a real treat seeing how the directors and actors interpreted them at the festival weekend. I would like to say a huge well done to the writers, actors and directors.
The monologues all represent different time periods so it’s really interesting that they were performed as part of the same promenade performance one after another – the order that they are in needs to feel right and have the right progression of mood. With the order we ended up with, the tone at the beginning and end is contemporary, witty, and simultaneously drawing attention to serious modern day issues: the right for working class women to be included in the higher education system – and the strain of undergoing costly fertility treatments such as IVF. There were some really positive reviews of the quality of these monologues:http://www.thepublicreviews.com/brief-encounters-247-festival-martin-harris-centre-for-music-and-drama-manchester/
I’m really glad that a shortened selection of Brief Encounters will be performed again at Manchester Science Festival. I think they are such an engaging watchable way of informing people about this city’s fantastic scientific achievements – and also a way to ask some thought provoking questions.
When it comes to putting a performance together one major factor is the space that it will be performed in. This can affect everything from costume, to staging, to how a line is delivered and how you can get on and off, every tiny decision – It’s a sweet madness trying to figure it all out.
Sometimes traditional scripts have a stage plan, which is great if you happen to have exactly the same size, same shape, and same resources as the location the script was originally performed. Someone has done the hard work for you and now all you have to do is adapt it to your environment.
So what happens with new writing? What happens when you are the person designing the stage plan? How do you find the questions to ask that no-one has asked before?
Madness Sweet Madness had been allocated the Cosmo Concert Hall at the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama. A wonderfully vibrant space, with a large wide playing area, and forward facing acoustics. It was fabulous.
If you were doing a concert.
24:7 has a tradition of performing in none specific Theatre Spaces and this carried through into the Cosmo. It looks like a theatre space, it feels like a theatre space but is not a theatre space. The question was could we turn it into one?
This is where a little help from our friends came in. The Plant who were sharing our space had decided to use the rostra – a square raised platform that limited the space down to a more intimate one. In the interests of time and space sharing our director decided to use similar staging. Which solved one problem – that the cast wouldn’t get lost in the expanse of the Cosmo.
He felt however that it was still too empty and hit upon the idea of a large house like structure that would serve as a lightbox for transitions and play to the strangeness of the piece. There was a through line of houses in the script. Grace’s house with Charlie, The neighbours house, Vesuvius house, and the house gifted at the end. Indeed the very title of the show is a play on the phrase “Home Sweet Home”. A creative idea caused specifically by the space. Even though it divided opinion should you remove the lightbox house – visually you would have a very different – very empty looking piece in such a big space.
The space performed in is almost another character, it lends itself to the performance and creates the confines of the world in which it is set. So what happens when you give the show a second space?
We took the show to The Lantern Theatre Liverpool as part of the Shiny New Festival. The space was a more traditional studio space. Much much smaller than the Cosmo. The first thing cut? The lightbox house. It wasn’t needed in a smaller space, the atmosphere came from the fact that the smaller space gave the show a more claustrophobic feel, that Grace and Vesuvius really were living on top of each other.
It was interesting to note the changes – Actors were behind the curtain instead of in view at the beginning. The lights cycled through the transitions with the music, but this time they were directly on Vesuvius’ house instead of the lightbox – giving a sense of eeriness and surrealism, possibly not felt in the expanse of the Cosmo. Could he be dreaming in this space? When he quite clearly wasn’t in the former? The biggest change however was a simple one. Because of headroom Walt could not stand on the chairs at the Lantern – a re staging meant that he came forward instead. Right to the front of the audience. It pulled them in to his reactions – as if we were now a part of his “magic” and lent more weight to his words. A fix, a creative choice dictated by the demands of the space.
So the space does matter, it can present two different versions of the same piece a day apart and radically change your interpretation. Perhaps because the script of Madness Sweet Madness is deliberately open, that it invites you to create your own interpretation of certain elements – that it is the perfect piece to transfer into different spaces. That just because you have seen it done one way doesn’t mean it won’t work another.
I’m glad that the script doesn’t come with a stage plan, that the space becomes another character to tell the story, that in future productions interpretation can be decided by the space the show is performed in.
After all it can only add to the madness.
The sweet madness.
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.
I was very excited to see the plays that the other Foot In The Door interns have been involved in. On the Sunday, I went to see ‘Distant Sounds’ (Written by Joyce Branagh and Tasnim Hussein), Gary: A Love Story (Written by James Harker) and We Are The Multitude (Written by Laura Harper). All three plays I thoroughly enjoyed. In the past, I have seen rehearsed readings where the actors only looked at their scripts and didn’t act at all which isolates the audience completely. Distant Sounds was the complete opposite of this; the two actresses completely inhabited their characters and managed to interact with the audience. The way that the set was used in Gary: A Love Story was really clever but also simple. Also, the relationship between the two siblings was truly authentic and at times heartbreaking. We are the multitude impressed me with the way in which the two actors could maintain portraying comical characters who also had a lot of emotional depth. Attending the weekend reminded me how small the industry actually is. Attending the same shows as me were two of my ex tutors from University, a vast majority of actors I have worked with before (including a nice surprise of one of them being in Distant Sounds), one of my workshop leaders, a director i’ve worked with before and one I’m currently working with. This enforced my view that you need to build good working relationships with directors/actors/assistants/everyone you can as literally everyone does know everyone! I am very proud of my fellow Footies and the work they have managed to create – it seems a long time ago now that we were sat in a circle in Withington fire station eagerly awaiting details of our placements!
The one thing that I am finding the most beneficial whilst on this placement is that I am getting to experience every aspect of running a theatre company. I specifically wanted to learn about the less creative side. Especially filling in an Grants for the Arts application as it is an aspect I found very daunting. Even though all of this information I have learnt so far has been incredibly useful, I was glad to be involved in a practical play day with Colour The Clouds. They are currently rehearsing for Maggie the Song and the Sea which they have secured tour dates for over the next couple of months. As the piece has already been shared in front of an audience previous to my placement, they have already received audience feedback on the piece as it is so far. What I think is invaluable though is the feedback they have received from children! Children are their dominant target audience (and also the most honest critics), therefore it seems necessary that this is where they gain feedback and opinions.
Colour The Clouds have decided to develop their material, which includes changing aspects of what they already have. I found it interesting to learn that when you put in a funding application you have to document changes, even some of the ones I would take for granted and not consider putting down. For example, I could not just create another character in my piece without considering that I am now including another actor who needs to be paid, insured etc. I don’t believe that this stifles creativity; it just makes you think more realistically.
Creating things with a parachute was very fun! Sometimes we use props for the sake of it in performance. When I was younger, I used to create elaborate creatures from things I found around the house and gained just as much enjoyment from it. Working with Colour The Clouds is helping me to recapture and reimagine the way I stage my own work – and how to have fun with it!
The 24:7 Theatre Weekend was a place of creativity and fun, offering a chance for all the productions to show their hard work to each other and festival goers a like. As a member of one of the shows we started a day early with a technical rehearsal and had the chance to see the festival come alive from a beautiful venue to festival central.
The organisation, dedication and help from everyone created a wonderful sense of a team spirit – from the staff to the casts, from the crews at the Martin Harris Centre to the alumni of previous years returning again to help out. It had that festival vibe – The shows in the theatres “sharing a tent”, the promenade monologues “hoping the weather holds”, and Martin the Caterpillar headlining “the next field stage” . Although thankfully there was less mud than other festivals – the drinking was taken care of. Opening drinks on the Friday and a bar throughout the weekend -(including soft drinks and tea) – finishes the festival analogy nicely – for what true festival would be complete without a “beer tent”?
But 24:7 has one more detail – the people. Welcoming audiences who have come specifically for a piece, or are there to see anything and everything, as well as encouraging and letting volunteers view the shows too – there was a real sense that everyone could be involved in something. There may be bigger festivals in Manchester but I challenge them to have the same intimate family feel that the Big Weekend did. With very careful planning it was possible to see everything that the festival put on – a point which further goes on to highlight the support 24:7 gives its participants.
As a member of a company this scheduling created a wonderful sense of team building. We could see things together. It meant that discussions of the other shows were flying backstage, adding to the feeling that our show, was part of something bigger. Of course we could then meet the other companies and we all had things in common. “I liked how you did that”, “I loved that joke”, “What made you think of that.?”.
If the festival does one thing it shows just what can be achieved when people collaborate. Writers, Directors, Staff, Volunteers, Casts and Audiences – all there for a shared enjoyment of the arts. Perhaps then that is 24:7′s biggest gift to any who walk through the doors, whichever side of the festival they are on, – it showcases a common interest, offers a conversation starter, starts you down the path that 24:7 has paved so many years ago.
So I put it to you that this is a fundamental part of the 24:7 legacy. For if art is truly inspirational and collaborative – who knows what new ideas have been thought of, discussed, and born at the Big Weekend?
It’s two months since I started my internship with Scallywags theatre company, and it feels a lot longer… in a good way!
My creative ideas have been encouraged and welcomed by the company, which has been great for me (and hopefully for them too!). I’ve learned and achieved a lot from being in the production process from the beginning. I’ve been a part of developing the story, writing songs, and building characters – literally, building and decorating masks and puppets!
As an assistant producer, I have been a part of drafting press releases and inviting guests to “The Butterfly’s Adventure”. What I found most interesting about this was the writing style, as we struck a balance between the professionalism and fun-loving nature of the company.
The social media strategy has been a fun challenge for me. I based it on the colourful images, and exciting captions that had worked well for the company previously. My aim was to focus the social media on Martin the caterpillar’s journey through rehearsals, to build the character voice and public interest ready for the festival. This was good fun, and encouraged me to set up and look out for some good rehearsal photo opportunities, whilst being careful not to give too much away!
Now we’ve reached the 24:7 Theatre Festival Big Weekend. We have had our final dress rehearsal at Manchester Museum. We can’t wait to share our story and characters with everybody! Until then, I’ll look forward to seeing what the other Foot In The Door interns have been up to…
Jenny Owen, checking out
When I accepted the task of finding props for Team Gary, I foolishly assumed it would be the ordinary, run of the mill stuff. You know, the usuals – a chair, a table, a pint glass. However as the props list began to grow I had a realization – I had almost certainly been mistaken.
Prop Mission One – Find a Jukebox. Easy peasy I thought, I can definitely hire one of those from- then James added “Cheap or Free.” Ah. Now we had issues. Most jukeboxes were super expensive even to hire, never mind buy! Where on Earth was I going to find a jukebox?
I tried the usual haunts – Preloved, Gumtree, eBay but alas all the jukeboxes were all so far out of our price range that we would probably need a telescope just to catch a glimpse of them. Panic was building as more and more searchs and emails turned up nothing. But then it hit me – not everyone has an iPhone, that means not even has autocorrect and not everyone can spell. So I crawled back to eBay and began to type in variations of spelling jukebox. Nothing, I was about to give up when I decided to try one last dodgy spelling. One result – 99p starting bid with no reserve. Perfect, but now for the moment of truth – the location. It had to be near enough for us to drive and pick up in a van. I was bracing myself for yet more disappointment – London, Brighton, Plymouth or maybe somewhere super cool like Aberdeen? I look and then… elation! It was only down the road in Accrington! Hurrah!
Thought the trauma was over? Think again, now it was time for a bidding war, but Team Gary came out victorious and the jukebox was ours for just £25 – BARGAIN. Then of course came storing it but thankfully I have a key to my Mum’s shed and where does she live? Burnley which is next to Accrington. SORTED.
Now I thought after that mammoth task the rest would be simple and some props were – alcohol, clothes, toys, but the hardest was yet to come… in the form of let’s say a certain callibre of magazine that you might traditionally find stored high above your eyeline. This was not going to be an easy task, it was going to be a Herculean task. It would be a test of endurance and how well I knew Salford’s scummiest shops. James and I jumped into our formidable chariot (aka Fanny the Ford Ka) and I drove him to every grim newsagents I knew, each time dumping James and locking my car doors but seven shops later with only one shop left we were empty handed. Not one magazine, nothing, nada. The shops were evidently not as grim as they appeared. Then we saw it, the grimmest shop of them all, so grim I couldn’t even park near it, I had to drive down the road onto an even grimmer estate. James set off, and I sat nervously tapping to ‘Two Tribes” until James arrived with what I will describe as some interesting reading.
Along with a Woolworths carrier (which are £3-5 each on eBay just in case you have any lurking around) these props were without a doubt the hardest I have ever had to source. But Team Gary now have all their props, and I have learnt a number of skills in being resourceful and how to get good props cheap. Opening night is just around the corner and the excitement is certainly palpable.
Bring on our first performance! Go Team Gary!
We are just over a week away from the 24:7 Weekend! We are the Multitude is in intense rehearsal mode with Amy Drake and Andrew Blake exploring their new alter egos Lisa and Simon with Liz Stevenson (director) and Flora Anderson (assistant director) guiding them on their way. The story of two cubicle buddies (office cubicles, obviously) who have failed to find any common ground, despite their extreme everyday geographical closeness.
Now I’ve been where Lisa and Simon are at. I’ve worked for universities and Government departments and have met the whole range of people – the one who is in the job while they’re ‘in between’ even though that’s been five years and counting, the overly enthusiastic one who (once you learn their job description) you fail to comprehend how they can love it so much, the one who has been there for twenty years and has gained a knack of clicking away from Facebook at the precise moment before their boss notices. You hear stories of where people dreamed of being, against where they’ve ended up, and you’re too afraid to ask what horrible set of unfortunate events occurred between the dream and the reality.
And the more I see how Lisa and Simon react to the situation they find themselves in, the more I think how would each of those people react? And how would I react? Would an attack on my (metaphorical) office shake up my life? And if one never came, would my life go by unshaken? SHAKE IT UP!
You know that old adage – “you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family”? Well I think it should be – “you can pick your friend, but you can’t pick your family, but you also can’t pick the person you have to sit next to at work day in and day out and you probably spend more waking hours with them as you do any of those pre-mentioned family that you haven’t chosen so I think that’s a much bigger concern we need to face up to!”
Not only is We are the Multitude (the cool kids are saying WATM, apparently) is about these #firstworldproblems a lot of us face but at the same time it discusses the bigger issues surrounding education, Government, budget cuts and privilege. The first budget delivered by George Osbourne for the new Government has cut maintenance grants and now students who had previously used that money to get by at university are now going to leave university and spend even more of their lives riddled with debt. How much more of a burden can the Government put on students back before they break? And what will this breaking look like?
WATM (it’ll catch on) captures the micro and the macro, the serious and the not so serious, of what is affecting us right now.
The following two weeks were very busy weeks for my placement. First off Box of Tricks was performing an installation piece, in Salford Lads Club, situated near the original Coronation Street. The piece was about true events that had happened to people that used to attend the club, as a local historian and freelance writer collaborated into writing the piece, whilst Box of Tricks set about directing four actors and moulding the piece together in a couple of days; ready to be performed to the punters that would come along. The piece was constructed as a guided tour, but instead of the usual tour about ‘The Smiths’, who famously gigged at Salford Lads Club, the tour guide had called in sick and a tour guide was set in their place, who decided to give the tour a little more history rather than knowledge of the popular UK band.
A large group attended the tour making it a success, it was a very interesting process to be a part of, from seeing who Box of Tricks collaborated with, how Adam directed and worked with the writer to construct the piece with four actors in a couple of days, and also gaining knowledge of the Salford Lads Club itself, which struck me as a complete hidden gem.
Box of Tricks were now auditioning for their latest play ‘Narvik’ and so the following Monday I was invited to come down to the Liverpool Everyman Theatre, where I was a part of their Youth Theatre before I move to Salford, to see how the audition process worked. The panel consisted of Hannah Tyrrell-Pinder (Co-founder of Box of Tricks), who was directing the play, the writer Lizzie Nunnery (Narvik), and Peter Hunt (Peter Hunt Casting) who was the casting director for the auditions. This was a very useful but also enjoyable process, as I picked up hints and tips for the future, being an actor myself, and also watching people sing and give life to the script, which was a pleasure to watch. What struck me the most about the auditions were that certain factors such as personality do play a part, but also age and the right look, and that can even be effected by the actor that they’re looking to pair them up with, so sometimes decisions aren’t just based on who gave the best performance, but who would give the right fit to the piece. What I liked about this experience was that even though I’m on a placement and new to Box of Tricks, I was allowed to engage in the conversations in between auditions and I felt a part of the whole process which I really appreciated. I was also allowed to see how a professional Casting Director like Peter Hunt operates as well, who I have met previously via ‘ActupNorth’. I would fully recommend to any future Foot In The Door hopefuls, that if you are offered the chance to go and watch auditions from the other side to take that opportunity with both hands and make sure you attend, as you probably won’t get another opportunity like it.
One of the most intimidating parts of being an actor is auditioning for roles and so it was nice to be on the other side of the table for once and watch other people audition.
The casting call for my placement Gary: A Love Story had generated a lot of interest and on the first day of auditions at The Town Hall Tavern we saw around eight actors and following these auditions we auditioned a few actors individually at a later date.
I found it interesting to act as an assistant in these auditions as I had never been on the other side of the table before – I’d always been the one in front of it feeling what I like to call ‘nervcited’. It was great to see how it worked on this side of the table and how the writer and director prepared for each actor – what they brought, how they set the room up and the general conversations that they had.
I helped out by reading in the other part for the actors. Our play is a two hander and as such, much of the play relies on the characters feeding one another dialogue. Performing this role helped me to really appreciate how different actors take different approaches, something prior to this experience I might not have considered if I was to facilitate auditions.
The most notable thing for me though was the way in which small details could affect the bigger picture. There were things we noticed and picked up on that to the actor probably seemed unimportant or that they maybe hadn’t even considered. For example, the actors who had done their research, read the entire play and brought their audition pieces annotated and with a good attitude stood out from those who turned up with nothing ready. I also learnt that it’s not always about being the most talented, but being the best suited to the part.
I definitely feel that this experience has been one of my most valuable to date and has given me a great deal to think about the next time I go for an audition. I guess, the main lesson I have learnt as an actor is to ‘not forget the finer details’. As a practitioner, I’ve also learnt a great deal including an understanding of how to conduct myself as the person auditioning.
After a couple of weeks of auditioning some fantastic actors we have finally got a full cast. I’m really excited to see Reuben and Craig bring Andrew and Gary alive and the rehearsal process can’t come quick enough.
Roll on July, roll on the rehearsals!
The first couple of weeks with the FITD scheme, through the training with PANDA, is a breath of fresh air. You’re not necessarily taught or being thrust information like in school or University, instead you explore yourself internally, essentially what you learn is that all of the answers essentially come from you, this course helps you realise that. Through the first two weeks of training with PANDA each member of the group came up with a five minute pitch each, and delivered it in front of industry professionals within the Lowry.
We received feedback from our pitches, which at first was quite daunting as very rarely in this industry do we tend to get feedback on ourselves as how we come across, it is very different to receiving feedback via being an actor, as being an actor we tend to be anything but ourselves, and so this whole process is incredibly valuable. In the theatre world everybody talks, and most people in Manchester know each other within the Theatre scene, so to hear what people think about how you come across first hand, is really a rare opportunity, and that is what has made this whole experience unique to me as practitioner trying to make to jump into the professional world.
Through my pitch I managed to gain a placement with ‘Box of Tricks Theatre Company’, which I was very grateful to have been offered as it was the company that I was most attracted too, due to its interests in nurturing new writing, and also its reputation as an up and coming, vibrant, Theatre Company, and one who’s name seems to pop up more and more each day. Their next project was also a play called ‘Narvik’ which was being put on down at the Liverpool Playhouse, and as I’m from Liverpool and also used to be a part of the Everyman Youth Theatre, this affiliation made me all the more interested in the company. I met with the Director and joint founder of the company, Adam Quayle, who runs the company with his wife Hannah, who is also a Theatre Director, to discuss the outline for what I was hoping to gain from the placement, and also what the company wanted from me.
The following week I came down to their office to first of all read the play ‘Narvik’ by Lizzie Nunnery, which was fascinating read as it mixed in poetic language with music, as Lizzie is not only a playwright, she is also a singer/songwriter. Later in the day I began work on typing up a marketing spreadsheet and listing contacts, who would be interested in the play, from both Liverpool and Manchester. I first of all put down the contacts that I already knew, which was handy as I’ve lived in both areas, and then I started to vary my search by looking up veteran societies, Universities, educational programmes from both music and drama.
Box of Tricks are very proactive whilst they work, and so a throughout the day various playwrights and practitioners would be coming in and out of the office and having conversations with Adam, making it all the more interesting an environment to be surrounded by as I was working, as you get a better insight into the goings on behind the scenes. It’s also interesting to take note of people and what they are doing in order to expand your pool of knowledge.
All in all it has been a fantastic start to my placement and I am loving every second of it, and I am in doubt that at this very moment, I am in the right place for my current development and that is very reassuring thought to have.
(FITD blog 2015)
Such an interesting process being on the other side of the audition panel as I’m normally being the one auditioned. As my director had so much to think about, me being there helped her a lot for being a second pair of eyes and another thought, so therefore it was really good for the decision making. The play I’m helping out with is mainly focused on the relationship between the two characters, so we worked hard pairing different people up to get it right. Also one thing to bear in mind for the Footie is to get to the auditions early and for you to sort things out before people arrive. This will just help the director and make things flow much faster and smoother.
As an Actor it has helped me a lot for when I go to auditions, as it’s your personality which pays a lot in an audition room. Also that it’s not always about talent, you can be amazing but just not quite right for the role which the director is looking for.
I would recommend to anyone who is an actor, if you ever get the chance to be on an audition panel, it will really help you see it from a different light and what to do and what not to do.
For any future Footie, if you can make the auditions to your show, go because is it such a great insight!!
The sun is shining outside and it feels like the hottest day of the year, Ian Townsend, 24:7’s writers liaison tells me that this is not an unfamiliar feeling, as every year they have brilliant weather for the media launch. I don’t know if it’s the sun or the buzz for the event (I’m going to go with a bit of both) but you can feel the excitement in the air.
I arrive at the Comedy Store on Deansgate Locks after picking up posters and staff badges for the event, relieved that I hadn’t bent or ruined them, to find Scallywags theatre company outside with a giant caterpillar (his name is Martin- I am assured this is a prop as they’re about to rehearse for their live trailer) I snuck into their rehearsal to get an idea of how this caterpillar was going to make his debut and as a message to anybody planning on going to watch ‘The Butterfly’s Adventure’, you are in for a fantastic show that children will love!
Aside from setting up the venue for the launch and drinking the free wine, it was brilliant to see the writers arrive to see it all become rather real from the published posters to the live and filmed trailers performed. As the press are arrived and settled in, Executive Producer David Slack and General Manager Annika Edge start things off by talking to the audience about the vision of 24:7 and how it has been going for 11 years! Also to talk about how this will be the last festival of its format, but 24:7 will carry on with what it has always been about, developing people.
The speeches have finished, the live trailers have been performed, and now the wine is flowing and the networking has begun. Interviews with writers are underway and the media launch is coming to an end, but 24:7′s Big Festival Weekend is only just beginning.
(FITD 2015 Blog)
Over the course of the week, we started each day off with a check in. This helped us to understand how each member of the group felt in relation to the previous days training and to find out what we had been up to in the time between each session. This was a simple but effective task which I believe helped us to bond as a group when we had only just met. On my final training day, my check in was a combination of excitement (I was technically getting to perform in the Lowry) and nerves (pitching myself to people I have never met before). However, we were prepared! Over the past week, we have realised our own goals and each others. We have also had advice on how to calm our nerves in situations that make us apprehensive.
At the end of the training week, we helped each other to realise our pitches and ‘performed’ them to each other. As I have trained as an actor, obviously I see opportunity in most situations to go into ‘actor mode’ and see a performance in everything. What this week has taught me though is that honesty really is the best policy. I believe that the group’s pitches were successful as a result of us being open and honest with each other throughout the week. Some of the exercises required us to look honestly into our pasts and see where we have possibly stopped ourselves from achieving our goals. When it came to delivering our pitches, I found that I received the best reactions when I spoke openly and as myself not as a ‘character’.
The pitch wasn’t scary at all. Our audience was encouraging and I sensed that they wanted us to be successful which made pitching to them easier. Also, my fellow footies were sat smiling at the back which instantly made me feel calmer.
I am now at the start of my placement with Colour The Clouds. As they are a children’s theatre company (and also Salford University graduates) I am very excited that I am getting to work with them. I have only worked with them for a couple of weeks and already I am learning so much. It is invaluable learning about running a theatre company, especially the side that isn’t as creative as this is the experience I need to be able to start my own.
Until the next Blog!
It was a nerving process to get to the presentations as it’s a hard task to talk about yourself in a clear and concise manner. The one area which I struggled with was the amount of time we had each and what to include and what not to include. I decided to just speak from the heart and show my passion for the arts and it paid off in the feedback. Pretty much all said they could see my passion which was really nice for me. I did find that the best way to go about it, is try keep it to the minimal time limit you have and leave the industry professionals wanting more. Therefore I talked about certain subject matters in my presentation which I didn’t fully explain, and it made people intrigued to know more and showed a genuine interest in what you said.
What I would tell any future Footie, is not to panic about putting together your presentation. At the end of the day, it’s in a safe environment which the audience just want to see you at your best. They aren’t there to criticise you, they are there to help you on your journey and bring the best out of you.
Really insightful and enjoyable workshop to attend. Anyone who can go, DO IT! Found out about the history of the Royal Exchange Building and the Theatre Company which some people may not find relevant, but I think it’s so important to know about how a company have grown and their routes. We explored a number of different exercises, some I’ve done before, some I haven’t. They all helped with not just understand about how to create a show in the round, but in any theatre space full stop. If you are an actor, it made me more aware of what some directors want out of actors, and what they don’t want, ie- actors shouldn’t ACT, they should be relaxed and show their personalities, not trying to impress.
A really good quote was used, ‘Acting is – 75% Personality and 25% Acting’. I think this is something which actors need to bear in mind, because it happens so often that actors try make it the other way round and that’s not the case. Actors TRY TOO HARD to be seen and be noticed.
So, to kick-start, a bit about my run up to this particular Door.
I’ve volunteered with 24:7 as a Deputy House Manager for the past two years and have revelled in the live buzz of the festival. It has been a real privilege to support the performances; the programme of work has been diverse, and consistently fantastic… and made me hungry for the chance to be a part of making them happen from a production level.
Which is where Foot In The Door kicks in! I was delighted to be offered a place on the PANDA training week, which would culminate in some participants being attached to this year’s 24:7 productions and affiliated companies. The prospect of a “week-long interview” was rather daunting, not least as I had little idea what to expect. However, any apprehensions were swept away over the course of the week. As part of a supportive and diverse group, I learned to recognise what makes “me”: how my acquaintances and experiences (good and bad) have built me so far; how I relate to others; and where I want to step up in my career from here. It was wonderful to be allowed this time and space to reflect on myself, my past, my practice and my hopes for my career.
What particularly stuck with me was the opening of communication as a two-way street: I found a new confidence in articulating my thoughts and experiences to others in the group, and in turn developed listening and questioning skills to encourage others to open themselves… ironically, I find this experience difficult to articulate here, but I’m sure it will prove to be a key to many future Doors I face in my life and career.
This all sounds wonderfully liberating and empowering… in theory. The clincher came when we were told we would be preparing and delivering a presentation about ourselves before an assortment of theatre professionals, including members of the potential placement companies. Although not the easiest of surprises, what startled me most was how “unstartled” I was by this prospect. Nerves balanced out with excitement as I realised, I could do this. I am worth listening to, even for as long as 5 minutes! With the support of PANDA and my peers, I learned to value myself, my experience and my aspirations as a theatre practitioner. On the day of the presentations, I was thrilled to openly and honestly present myself before the not-so scary artistic assembly, and to witness my fellow “Footies” take the challenge in their strides.
I am delighted to now be on the next step of my Foot In The Door journey, as I have been placed with Scallywags. This is children’s theatre company that have been chosen to devise a site-specific family-friendly piece to be performed at Manchester Museum as part of this year’s 24:7 Festival. More on that to follow after tonight’s Media Launch, but so far, it’s looking like I’m in for a very exciting adventure!
Jenny Owen, checking out.
Read all about Luke’s experience with Dreamscopes TV here:
The 2015 application window for our development scheme for young creatives (Foot In The Door) is now open and will close on April 7th. For more information and how to apply please visit our FITD page or contact Annika on annika (at) 247theatrefestival.co.uk.
We will be holding a showcase and information event on Sunday 22nd March at the Kings’ Arms Salford (11 Bloom Street, Salford, M3 6AN). Join us for this free event (ticket reservations are recommended):
5pm – 6pm FITD 2015 Information event
6pm – 8pm Future Creatives Cabaret
8pm – 10pm Networking
Here is what one of our FITD alumni said about the scheme:
‘I learnt so much about the arts scene in Manchester, the performance networks, freelancing and professionalism that it proved the perfect opportunity to put my fears to rest and help me begin the process of transitioning from being a student to a professional freelancer. I wish this type of course could be available to all new graduates!’
The wrap party of the festival was a really lovely event in the 24:7 calendar, and it felt like a combination of the very best elements of both a family reunion , and the last day of school. The glimmering energy and vigour of the festival week proper had matured into true friendships, stonking dancing courtesy of many of the productions and Festival staff, and a fantastic tubby love-filled glow just like the end of Christmas day, where one commonly rewinds through the day’s surprises and presents (but stretched over weeks, if not months!)
Awards were handed out, laughter bubbled across the layered venue (New Century House), and temporary goodbyes were made late into the night.
I went along to help with tidying and post production tasks both in New Century House and the previous festival headquarters, and it was a somewhat strange but very ‘right’ way to wrap up the festival. Between moments fishing stray samosas from the potted plants, I reflected that the sheer creativity and passion of the various people involved in the festival has served as fuel for the future-the evolution of the festival is inspired subconsciously by this year’s productions and staff. The strength of this dedication will carry the mottos and intentions of the festival through into its next generation, if not reincarnation!
Robyn – August 2014
The festival week started energetically: condensing the 24:7 headquarters office into a taxi-load and settling into our new home onsite at New Century House. One day I was out and about collecting supplies from other venues in the North West which were very kindly lent to the festival, and dropping off tickets and clues for our Festival week challenge Treasure Hunt, which utilized the #247treasure hashtag in mystery locations close to the Festival’s heart.
I was interviewed by Laura Gatie as part of her FITD/PANDA placement, and this was a brilliant moment to reflect on what the whole Management Team was about to undertake.
The opening days of the festival were filled with lamination, exclamation, and jubilation. The atmosphere onsite is constantly positive, with at least three writers and actors from this year’s productions to be found at any one time, ready for a chat and full of theatrical beans.
My own tasks through the festival have included bar shifts, more office admin assistance, and making live tweet content from the productions. We are privileged as FITD members by being encouraged to attend as many of the productions as possible between running our own events, and the community has been incredibly welcoming, friendly, and receptive to all forms of commentary.
The Herding Cats Convention and Festival 10th Birthday Party ran largely as Sarah (From last year’s stellar ‘Billy, the Monster, and Me’) and I had planned, including a cake buffet, comedy Photobooth and expert Panel which balanced the Festival programme in a really lovely way. Halfway through the Festival, our current tasks include collating production reviews, engaging in more office responsibilities, and problem solving on a general scale. I’m now off to help Harry Jelley (other office intern from FITD) with a Poetry Slam event he has produced!
Robyn – July 2014
I’m Robyn, FITD trainee on placement in the 24:7 Festival Office, interning under Annika, David, and Kathryn. A typical day begins at 10am in the office, where we’ll all arrive and get settled with cups of tea kindly made by fellow intern Harry Jelley.
I’m currently working on the Herding Cats Convention and 10th Birthday Party, both held onsite at New Century House during festival week. Sarah Birch and I meet around 2 days a week in the 24:7 HQ office, to make bookings and plans for the events and discuss progress.
I spend the rest of the day helping with anything from setting up the office for events to sourcing supplies, and sitting in on informal chats with members of the 24:7 Family and Alumni.
The placement is proving valuable to me in terms of really highlighting the true variety of thoughts and tasks which must be arranged and enacted in creating a festival. This was one of the most important things to me in applying to the Foot In The Door Scheme, having previously found festivals to be a truly intoxicating concept. The abstract notion of a temporary event intrigues me alongside the more concrete, logistical everyday issues involved . Realism is as important as a sense of humour and the willingness to work hard and apply oneself to the tasks as part of a greater learning experience.
Robyn – June 2014
The weeks leading up to the festival absolutely flew by. I couldn’t believe how quickly the time passed. Before I knew it we were loading out our vast assortment of PA equipment, guitar amplifiers and drum stands from the car for the tech and dress rehearsal. The week leading up to this had been long and slightly stressful due to the fact it can be a very complex procedure to ensure that all the necessary equipment was transferred first to the 24:7 offices and then to New Century House without anything being left behind (plenty of heavy lifting had also turned my lower spine into a fine, powdery dust). However, once we arrived and set up things began to ease up as I realised that the musicians I had brought in for the project were all highly dedicated, well versed in their parts and completely professional. This time the nagging, self-doubting voice that inhabits the inside of my head could only muster a faint whisper thanks to the dedication of the band and the rest of Team Vera.
Once settled, I found the run highly enjoyable throughout. It’s amazing how quickly you adjust to the pressures of performing every day and how what should be an extraordinary experience becomes routine after only a couple of days. It was lovely to walk into New Century House every day, greeting a host of happy people along the corridor before performing alongside the rest of Team Vera. The festival created a great community of artists and New Century House was the perfect hub for such an event. During my spare time between playing in Vera and working on other projects I saw as many of the other 24:7 productions as possible and felt a huge sense of pride watching each play, knowing exactly how much effort and passion had been put in by each company over the past few months.
As show week drew to a close I began to reflect on my experiences during the run up to and within the festival. I can’t say that every single moment was completely stress free, within every project there are always moments when you have a lot to do and very little time to do it in (my favourite example being that I had about ten minutes to get to my graduation ceremony after finishing the tech and dress rehearsal for Vera and the taxi decided not to show up…Don’t worry, I made it… Just!) but throughout every difficult moment I always knew why I was striving to achieve something so complex. With such a supportive team of performers, writers, directors, choreographers, stage managers and band mates behind me, it was worth giving as much time and energy as I possibly could because I wanted to create a performance that best reflected the vast amount of talent that exists within Team Vera. Overall I believe that during the project I have made great steps towards becoming a better composer and I’m incredibly grateful to Jayne and Chris for putting their faith in me, for the patience of the actors who gave me the time to figure out how to best make things work and the musicians for their unwavering dedication and support. When I started the internship with 24:7 I felt lost after completing my final university project, but now, after achieving so much with Vera Dymond, I feel a lot more confident about my future as an artist. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better way to conclude my three years at university learning how to become a professional actor and musician. It’s been a privilege to have been involved in 24:7.
Tom – August 2014
It’s always a slightly nervous experience stepping into a room full of people you’ve only just met knowing that in three months’ time you’ll all be working together to put on ten brand new plays over a period of seven days, as part of the ten year anniversary of a fantastic theatre festival. When production day came around it’s safe to say I was a tad hesitant due to the frantic little voice in my head shouting things such as: ‘Don’t do anything wrong and embarrass yourself!’ ‘What if the production team don’t like you?’ ‘Have you put your name badge on upside down?’ and so on; but all my fears were dispelled when I met Jayne and Chris who welcomed me into Team Vera with open arms from the moment we first met. Even though this was the first day we had spoken about the project there were already a few remarks made about the potential of utilising my skills as a musician and composer within the play due to the fact it can prove very expensive to use popular songs within a production due to PRS rights etc. I decided to review the script over the course of the next few days and make notes of where music needed to be included.
By the time we had our next production meeting I had come up with some conceptual ideas for music that could be used within the production, but did feel a little bit nervous about sharing ideas at this early stage. Although I have done composition work in the past I’ve had a lot more time to plan and prepare on my own before-hand. When composing I can become very focused on my individual contribution to a production rather than standing back and seeing it as a collaborative effort. This can be an equal curse and blessing. In the weeks that followed I was to learn a great deal about the necessity to share and discuss ideas as part of a team which has had a massive impact on my understanding of the role of the composer within a theatrical production.
In the end, after plucking up the courage to share my conceptual ideas, I decided to put myself forward for the role of composer and musical director on Vera Dymond via a formal application process. I felt it was necessary to do this in order to establish a clear difference between my role as a FITD intern and the role I was applying for as I knew other people were interested in scoring the play and I didn’t want to give myself an unfair advantage simply because I was already a part of the production team. After some deliberation, my application was successful and I began to work towards creating a full score for the performance. After further reviewing the script and doing research on the characters and their backstories I felt I had enough content to understand what would be needed within this production. I imagined Vera at the height of her career, performing at the North Pier, with a live band backing her, singing the great songs of the time, her voice a mixture of sadness and determination contrasting with where she has ended up. Rehearsing old clichés in a garage before performing in a run-down pub with only a karaoke machine and her future replacements as back up. From my interpretation of the script I came up with the idea of having the score performed by a live band rather than pre-recording the music in order to try and re-create that sense of being in a Blackpool venue during its hay-day. My vision was ambitious to say the least but I felt like making such a statement would give the play a unique selling point.
Over the coming weeks I began to develop songs and incidental music that I thought subtly reflected each of the three characters I was writing about. I felt the script told the story of three voices, each with their own anxieties, fears and dreams interacting with each other, at first they are very discordant, but by the end of the play as the relationship between the three characters improves they become more harmonious. I tried to ensure that this narrative was reflected through the music throughout the play too, with one particular song progressing throughout from an out of time mess at the start of the play to a slick, well-sang show tune by the end. To ensure that the music was best suited to the vocal ranges of the three actresses I attended rehearsals during the run up to show week daily and developed the songs alongside them, allowing them to input ideas to make sure that the songs were as suited to themselves as performers and singers as they possibly could be. Chris, now appointed director, asked me early on to set delivery deadlines for each piece of music throughout the rehearsal process. I’ve worked to deadlines before, but usually there has been some leeway in the exact date that things have been delivered. Due to the tight turnaround times this couldn’t be the case on this project. Throughout the rehearsal process I had to learn to meet these set deadlines come what may. This was a very important lesson for me to learn. As I previously mentioned, I can sometimes isolate myself by focusing on my individual contribution to sound design, but by having short deadlines to work with, and being in the rehearsal rooms on a daily basis to consult with the production team and performers I found that I wasn’t able to focus on my work as an individual. Instead I found that I needed to showcase new ideas and lyric suggestions at each meeting and then continue to develop them alongside the rest of the rehearsals so that the actors felt confident with the songs. This was a much more natural way of working and ensured that when we came to the final week of intensive rehearsals (when the full band joined the performers) everyone was already well versed in their songs and it took considerably less time to run through sound cues etc. I learnt a great deal about the role of the composer during this time and that you must always ensure that there is a constant dialogue between your role and the rest of the production team, particularly the director and actors, in order to achieve the best results and create a piece that amalgamates each person’s input in order to achieve a clear artistic vision. Improved communication through set deadlines is definitely something that I will take forward with me into future work.
Tom – August 2014
I came on to the Foot In The Door scheme very late in the day, with little knowledge of what I’d signed myself up for. All I knew was that the scheme was meant to help emerging performers and artists make a start in the arts. Considering I was just about to finish my final degree module, concluding my three years at University, I felt somewhat cast adrift, not entirely sure which direction to head in to further my career as a performer but felt like the internship being offered might be the perfect way to try and figure out what I wanted to do next.
From the moment I stepped into the 24:7 offices I felt immediately accepted by the whole organisation. The first two weeks training with Proper Job Theatre Company were highly informative, incredibly well structured and very engaging. After experiencing so much fear and hesitation with regards to completing university it was wonderful to look forward to something so much on a daily basis. Proper Job created an environment that meant a group of twenty or so strangers were able to become a well-bonded supportive group within a matter of hours. Over the two week period this bond only grew stronger, and those who completed the training left with a new group of highly-supportive friends.
Proper Job’s training sessions concluded with each group member delivering a speech they had prepared based on themselves; a daunting prospect for everyone involved. It took a great deal of thought to write and then present my findings on what it really means to be… well. ‘Me’. The challenge set was difficult, but the gentle encouragement of Proper Job and their highly engaging programme of exercises gave me the chance to reflect on my past achievements and what I want to do in the future. Along with careers advice from PANDA I began to understand my true value as an artist, something that has eluded me in the past. I gained a sense of confidence to promote myself and to have faith in the extent of my abilities. After the presentations were over I felt a great sense of achievement knowing I had presented myself to the best of my abilities, as well as a huge sense of pride to have witnessed all of my peers succeed.
The advice I was given during these two weeks had a great deal of influence on the following few months of my life. As a gigging musician, my new found confidence in knowing the value of my skills as an artist led to a succession of paid gigs (something that was unprecedented prior to joining the scheme) This has been followed by several further paid bookings, which has resulted in me having the capacity to purchase higher spec audio equipment to further improve my music. My presentation also resulted in me being accepted onto one of the Artist placements with 24:7 and I was delighted to be paired with Jayne Marshall’s wonderful play ‘The Lives and Loves of Vera Dymond’. I knew from the short blurb I had read regarding the play that there may be scope to incorporate music but had no idea that I would be given the privilege to compose songs and take on the role of musical director in weeks that followed. I truly believe my decision to put myself forward for the role was something that stemmed from the confidence I gained during the Proper Job workshops and feel I owe the company, as well as the group of peers I was lucky enough to meet, a great deal for helping me to realise what I was able to in the following months.
Tom – August 204
For me the most exciting part of the scheme was launch night, showing my work to an invited
audience was really rewarding. I had to deliver a speech, I felt however completely different to how
I felt whilst delivering the speech in the two week intensive training course. I felt a lot more
confident, I wasn’t half as nervous and I was actually enjoying doing it. This is a skill that will be
extremely valuable to me, particularly at this very moment as I am applying to jobs. It has given me
the confidence to apply for things that I would never have done so before.
The evening of the launch was lovely, everyone reunited together to celebrate the ending of the
scheme. It was also great to be around people who were on the previous media consultant schemes,
celebrating their achievements to. Having Proper Job attend was also a nice addition, before the
launch started we took part in a small activity prepared by them, this task was the same task that we
were given on the last day of the two week intensive training course, which was to represent how
we felt by using play dough. After the two week course I created the stem of a flower showing that I
was starting to grow in confidence and in the final session after the launch I created a flower that
had fully blossomed, representing the fact that my confidence was now glowing.
The highlight of the scheme for me had to of been the speech during the two week intensive
training course. This was an extremely daunting and challenging task, however it has been one of
the most valuable things that I have actually ever done. Throughout the two week intensive training
course, we were given lots of small little speaking tasks which eventually led into us delivering a
short speech about ourselves to an invited audience. Whilst we were preparing for the speech, we
were given advice from our FITD trainee members on how to communicate and present our self
more effectively. When the speech night eventually came I was extremely proud of my self,
standing up in front of an audience is something that I have tried to avoid for a while. Hearing the
feedback after my speech gave me a real confidence boost.
Another highlight from the scheme was the ‘This is it event’ at the Manchester Central Library. This
event was ran by a variety of different people who were currently working within the creative
industry, giving out valuable tips and advice on how to freelance. I got the opportunity to talk in
person to some highly successfully individuals, inspiring me to keep on following my chosen career
path and not to give up.
Laura – August 2014
My whole experience on FITD has been extremely valuable and exiting. I have met some lovely
people and developed lots of new skills which are proving beneficial already in the start of my job
hunt. I joined the scheme to network, build up my confidence and to explore different career paths, I
feel that I have achieved every single one of these! My placement gave me the opportunity to see
what everyone else was doing which was really exciting. I got to see Mella curate at the Manchester
Craft and Design Centre, catch up with Lowri and Tom during musical rehearsals for the ‘Lives and
Loves of Vera Dymond’ and go behind the scenes of ‘Afterglows’ script reading with Emma.
Having the opportunity to see a full on festival develop from initial ideas on paper, to then watching
them be performed in front of an audience was something I found really exciting. Festival week had
a great vibe and buzz to it, seeing everyone come together from FITD was lovely and I felt proud of
everyone who had taken part in the development of the productions.
The festival is over for the year. We spent the last day of the festival packing up the office at New Century House and moving back into 24:7 Towers on Quay Street. This was my last act as a Footie for 24:7.
The festival had a great atmosphere throughout, and being able to be part of the optimism and positivity of the writers, performers and office was a great experience. The Box Office ran more smoothly than I’ve witnessed at other festivals and, bar one fire alarm, each performance was fantastic.
Looking forward it’s easy to see how working with 24:7 will influence my career. I’ve learnt a great deal about working with festivals and producing in this environment. I felt that the festival had the right amount of events and performances, something which is key for festivals and that I will take on to future projects. The strong organisational foundation going into the festival week had a clear effect on the smooth running of the week itself. Also the friends that I’ve made through the whole of the Foot in the Door scheme will be hopefully be lasting and, along with all the other people I have met through this programme, we will be able to work together on future artistic projects.
Since the festival has finished I’ve been able to feel it’s absence. When cycling into town, I sometimes find myself accidentally heading down towards Quay Street, only remembering at the last to swing across onto Deansgate at the traffic lights. Working with the team of people that I was able to at 24:7 was fantastic.
I already look back at the scheme happily and with appreciation at what I was able to learn. Most importantly, I am excited looking forward at the projects that I will be able to apply this to.
I say opening night, but it was in reality opening afternoon – but this did not detract from the excitement felt from the In My Bed team!
As we were the first play of the day we had plenty of time for fresh coffee and getting ourselves organized. The stage was set and our actors were finishing doing vocal warm ups, a friendly steward let us know the audience were ready and waiting. It was time. Off I went to my post behind the flats and the large double doors opened to let the audience in. Hearing muffled conversations and excited voices I felt as though I could burst with excitement. Then the house lights went down and the fantastic actors I had been working with for the past 2 and bit months went on stage to shine.
An hour went by in a heartbeat and before I could catch my breath I heard the audience burst into applause and I felt such a sense of pride of what we had achieved. I knew that I was meant to be there in that very moment and this is what I would always want to do.
Lucie – July 2014
I have been fortunate enough to be given a bit of creative responsibility for the show I have been working on – Rebekah Harrison’s ‘In My Bed’. The play is set in the main character’s bedroom and the set needs to be aesthetically pleasing as well as functional !
My writer and director have given me loose guidelines and have let me go off in my design bubble and come back with ideas for the set design. Coming from an art background I knew the flats where a shade of grey so put forward to the group that as we had a black bedframe how about we go with a monochrome colour pallet, as it would be true to our character’s taste, but also would give the look of the production a really polished feel. This was received well so I went back into Manchester to find fabric swatches and paint.
Over the next few weeks things were spray painted, distressed and sewed and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it (apart from the day I had to take a chest of draws up and down 6 flights of stairs!) All my offerings were met with encouragement, which made my confidence grow day by day.
My time spent on the production has made me realize that my passion lies with design for theatre and now I am eagerly pursuing a career in set design.
Lucie – July 2014
Tonight is the night! Me an the rest of the Footies (Foot In The Door trainees) are getting ready to perform the speeches we have been working on for the last week and a half to an audience of industry professional’s.
Safe to say I am terrified. But what is reassuring about this situation, everyone else has the same look of fear in their eyes, EVEN THE ACTORS!
I have absolutely no experience in public speaking and have never particularly wanted this fact to change. But here I am. As part of the scheme we deliver a speech about ourselves to ‘pitch’ ourselves for an opportunity to obtain a placement with either a writer, PANDA or 24:7 Theatre.
I am sure I must have turned a worrying shade of grey as several people have come up to me and told me ‘everything will be fine Luce – what’s the worst that can happen?’. The fear is really starting to kick in now! However with all this said we are all eager to get this show on the road and the feeling of camaraderie is electrifying. We are sat in supportive huddles, downing bottles of rescue remedy and keep on succumbing to fits of giggles.
The door goes and we realize that the time is now! We head to our places and in true Foot In The Door spirit we give it our all.
Lucie – April 2014
Being in the office during festival week is a bizarre mixture of calm and chaos. There are tickets, some cut/some still regimented on sheets of A4, strewn across a table —someone in this building has left half-way through this job to perform another task but they know exactly how far through it they are and what needs to be done. The clock permanently tells us it is 3pm/am which still startles us in the hours leading up to this time but, as everything is running seamlessly, it needn’t.
Compared to other arts festivals I’ve experienced, the calm and considered approach of 24:7 makes a real difference to the atmosphere. The sense of chaos appears to come from the expectation that something could go wrong; the calmness comes from the assurance that everything has been well planned and produced, this trumps the former. From the office we hear the crowds building in the foyer in the half an hour before a performance and then the slow draining of sound into the venues 5 minutes before those three shows start. As each performance and the tech team have been responsible for it’s production, and that they have been expectedly professional about it, there is a degree of comfort from the festival management team during the week. As with any festival there are tasks that arise and solutions to be found, but they are performed and resolved with a minimal fuss.
I’m told that in the years before 24:7 was all in New Century House that it wasn’t like this. That festival workers spent their time running between venues and working on the fly. Part of me feels that this would have been more exciting but the sensible/practical part of me realises that what exists now is far more conducive for a festival that the public and staff can enjoy.
At other festivals I have only been able to see performances that I was introducing or closing with thanks. At 24:7 I was able to see the majority of the shows. This has been an essential part of growing professionally, understanding the expectations of a fringe theatre festival and being able to develop ideas of my own. This was all possible due to the planning and the calm. Whilst the office may seem disordered to those popping their head through the door, for one week we have our own brand of order, and it works.
Our trainee Emma has worked on Afterglow, and is now currently in Edinburgh with last year’s 24:7 show Billy, the Monster and ME! She has set up her own blog about her experience here: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/emmierose-tmblr-
I have had an amazing experience through festival week, from seeing almost all ten plays, to running about backstage with the Vera Dymond team. It’s been one hell of a learning curve! I loved the general atmosphere around New Century House and being able to feel the camaraderie between all the individual shows. We all wanted each other to succeed and would help out as much as possible.
I think my favourite moment of the festival was our final Vera Dymond performance. The show had had time to grow into something beyond anything I had seen in the rehearsal room and the whole team had come together to support one another.
The Foot in the Door programme has given me more confidence to go for the jobs I really want and has taught me so much about networking! The 24:7 team are all talented, hardworking and genuinely lovely people and I hope I have the opportunity to work with them all again next year.
Lowri – July 2014
This year was an especially exciting year as the festival celebrated its 10th year and Saturday saw the a whole host of new and familiar faces come together for its 10th Birthday Party at New Century House, the venue for all this years shows and events. For me the party was a great chance to connect with everyone from the shows and find out how everyone had been getting on. Being the second day of the festival there was a definite buzz for the week ahead with many people swapping recommendations and timetabling in to catch each others shows. It was really nice to see how supportive everyone was amongst the various shows and to get to know people on a much more personal level having fleetingly met most of them whilst filming with Dreamscope. The night was also a great opportunity to catch up with the rest of the footies who had all been incredibly busy themselves from Georgie Edward’s stage management and hunt for gray lollypops for Tongue Twister (eventually shipped over from Germany!) to Sam’s dedicated hard work on an incredibly dynamic score for To the Dam. I also caught up with Harry who had been busy planning one of this years’ extras events ‘The Big Slam’ which consists of a spoken word battle between some of Manchester’s upcoming poets, writes and performers and looks to be one of the many exciting events he’s planning since recently moving to Manchester.
24:7’s official photographers Act iii where also in on the fun, hosting a dress up photo booth which was a lot of fun (photos available on the 24:7 Facebook page!). The evening was also a great opportunity to reflect back on 24:7s many achievements over the last ten years with a lovely speech by David Slack who gave thanks to the many theatre makers and volunteers who help make the festival such a success every year. For the event I made a ‘Happy Birthday 24:7’ video, which saw a whole host of supporters and contributors wish a big Happy Birthday to the festival as well as some brilliant singing by Peter Holden from Holden and Sons.Overall a great evening with great people and some very nice cake. Happy Birthday 24:7!!
Sophie – July 2014
Youth and Education Coordinator, Pavilion Dance South West
I literally got my foot in the door of the arts industry in December 2008, when I joined 24:7 Theatre Festival on a short Christmas work placement. Luckily for me, I never really left. I served in “Festival Promotion” until July 2010, when I then began assisting Kathryn Worthington, Festival Director. My experience with the festival has been invaluable. I gained my first contacts in theatreland, gained confidence to create my own work, and became a fully fledged Producer in a whirlwind.
I believe that my position with 24:7 landed me the job of Trainee Producer at the Manchester International Festival in 2010/2011, as part of the DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme. From then I’ve returned to 24:7, both producing and box office managing, as I truly believe I wouldn’t be here without them.
Having since been Groups Coordinator for Cheshire Dance’s “The Moment When…” and Stage Manager for Crying Out Loud’s “Piccadilly Circus Circus” for the Olympic Games, I have now been Youth and Education Coordinator at Pavilion Dance South West for 2 years.
And guess what I’m doing this Summer? I’m coming back to 24:7.
Director and Executive Producer of Pull Your Finger Out Productions and Contact Compacts.
I took part in the first Foot In The Door Scheme in 2011. 24:7 was my first network and introduced me to numerous like minded contacts, and taught me the nitty gritty tips of how get productions working for you!
Since 24:7 I’ve become a self sufficient theatre maker/producer, directing two full shows and 6 shorts, and assistant directing and casting on numerous significant companies. I’m certain that my opportunities were influenced by the fact I had 24:7 on my CV so soon after graduation. Since then I’ve worked in a variety of jobs at Contact to continue building experience.
Last year I founded Contact Compacts, a short play series at Contact which aimed to “Bring the fringe to the theatre”. Our events were a real success and are now in the process of being formally programmed by the theatre. Over the last year we’ve established Pull Your Finger Out Productions and will be producing our first full length show “Afterglow” as part of this year’s festival. I have a long journey before making creative work my source of income, but I’m making progress and importantly, making work that I enjoy and am proud of. I am so grateful for 24:7 and that all important very first Foot In The Door!
I applied for the Foot In The Door scheme as I wanted to learn more about arts-based administration. Working in the head office with the Directors Kathryn and David, as well as Lucy, Charlotte and Annika, encouraged me to choose an event manager role as my final project at Salford University.
The experience, support and knowledge they gave me allowed me to go on and manage over 160 students – and I glided through the publicity and administration end of things with ease! It was a very fun working environment, honest and understanding to each individual, and a great way to network and meet emerging writers, established directors and see brand new performances. It’s certainly the best way to get your foot in the door!
I took part in the FITD scheme in 2012 and was attached to Working Progress Theatre Company as an assistant director and stage manager for their production of Loaded. I’ve continued to work with them ever since and recently directed a play as part of The C Project at The Lowry to raise money for The Christie charity. As well as introducing me to people that I love collaborating with, FITD also gave me the knowledge and initiative to start making opportunities for myself, something that can be really valuable in an industry with limited openings!
Associate Producer with The Lowry Studio
In my final year at Newcastle University, I became involved in Foot in the Door, and I became Assistant Producer on ‘The Transit of Venus’. Lucy Jones (Foot in the Door Manager) also put me in touch with Box of Tricks Theatre Company who were presenting ‘My Arms’. I became an Ambassador and Assistant Producer for Box of Tricks, which was the beginning of an exciting and rewarding relationship as they went on to give me my first professional producing job.
With communications experience in other industries, I began working with 24:7, managing their social media and online marketing amongst other things. By 2013, I was acting as their Marketing Manager, and with this experience I secured the role of Communications Manager at Action Transport Theatre. Since then, I have worked as a freelancer producer and marketeer with The Library Theatre Company and Burnley Youth Theatre, and am now an Associate Producer with The Lowry Studio curating my own festival.
The 24:7 Foot Door In The Door scheme offers more than a lot of larger organisations can. The networks available are immense and accessible, and everyone is encouraged to take advantage of them. As someone who could never afford to do a post-graduate degree in producing, the learning made available to me has proven invaluable, not only on what exactly a producer is, but how an NPO works, how festivals and small companies operate, how to collaborate, and much more.
I am quite sure my career as an emerging producer and marketer in the North West would not exist without Foot In The Door.
24:7 is a registered Arts Award Centre and Arts Award Supporter.
Arts Award’s unique nationally recognised qualifications support anyone aged up to 25 to grow as artists and arts leaders, inspiring them to connect with and take part in the wider arts.
24:7 offers advisors for Arts Award bronze, silver and gold level as part of our Foot In The Door scheme. We hope to explore year-round opportunities after our 2015 festival.
We also support Arts Award at all levels by offering young people discounted tickets to festival shows, other events and workshops. We schedule volunteering and internship opportunities and provide direct contact with arts practitioners.
For general information on Arts Award visit http://www.artsaward.org.uk/ , and for information on Arts Award opportunities with 24:7 contact firstname.lastname@example.org