Olivier Award-winning director Michael Grandage opened today’s Theatrecraft at the Royal Opera House with a very personal speech in which he described the beyond the stage careers fair as “extraordinary”.
Following an introduction from the Society of London Theatre’s Chief Executive Julian Bird, Grandage spoke to some of the many participants gathered at the annual event for 17 to 25 year olds looking to forge a career in theatre, telling them how he discovered his love for an industry which would see him run the Donmar Warehouse and direct numerous hit productions in the West End and on Broadway.
“I was brought up in Cornwall and was quite lost as to what I wanted to do and something very extraordinary happened when I was 16,” Grandage said. “The very first ever Royal Shakespeare Company performance in Cornwall came down to a sports centre near where I lived. I do remember very clearly all these years later the energy of that play; I’d never experienced an energy like it.”
Expressing his admiration for the careers fair, the director added: “Imagine if something like this today had existed then. I left Cornwall, I had to come to London, I had to spend at least a year trying to find out about theatre… so that’s why when Julian [Bird] says this is something close to my heart, it is.”
Now in its seventh year, TheatreCraft offers more than 1,000 young people the chance to discover more about a host of theatrical professions. This unique approach offers people the chance to find out about professions beyond acting, which Grandage highlighted the importance of in his inspiring speech. “It introduces people who are genuinely interested in a career in theatre to all those other jobs.” Talking about his soon to open West End production Privates On Parade, the director added, “This afternoon I know that before I even start the dress rehearsal I’ve got to talk to a make-up artists, I’ve got to talk to a hat maker, I’ve got to talk to a wig designer. They’re jobs that nobody ever really talks about in the theatre… and that’s just a tiny proportion of the hundreds of jobs that are available when people say they want to go into the theatre.”
“This is an industry that matters and that can change people’s lives. That is an extraordinary thing to be able to say, and I believe it and I encourage everybody here to constantly believe and never give up on it because it’s the thing that motivates us. It goes right back to that energy I experienced all those years ago. All of those stands that are out there and all of those workshops and sessions that have been set us as part of this extraordinary day are here to help all of you to understand what goes on in this industry so you can make proper choices about the kind of work you would like to focus on.”
Speaking to Official London Theatre after the rousing introduction, Bird reiterated Grandage’s sentiments, saying: “The great thing about today is this is not just for people who want to be an actor or want to be on the stage for people to see, this is something that hopefully gives people an idea and an opening into all the jobs that there are in the theatre and around the theatre, all of whom are essential to make the theatre in London what it is.”
Grandage, who told us he “loved the idea” that he might work in the future with some of the young people starting their theatrical career journeys today, advised all theatre hopefuls to “make sure it’s something you’re absolutely passionate about. I think it’s quite important you don’t wander into the theatre with casual interest thinking it sounds like it might be a good idea,” adding: “It’s not necessarily a career where you can earn a lot of money so you have to be passionate about it, you want to be motivated in the way that you get up every morning to let it take over your life.”
As Grandage heads back to his rehearsals, participants at 2012’s Theatrecraft will spend the day attending a selection of more than 60 workshops led by industry professions from areas including directing, design and playwrighting, as well as having the chance to explore stands from more than 40 exhibitors alongside an ‘Ask The Expert’ zone for one to one advice.