TheatreCraft, London’s largest free event for 16-25 year olds seeking non-performance careers in theatre, took place on Monday 14 November at The Waldorf Hilton and theatres across the West End. This year blogger Ellie Mae joined the TheatreCraft media team, read about her experience below.
This year’s TheatreCraft was held on Monday 14th November, when thousands of young people gathered at The Waldorf Hilton hotel. Situated at the heart of the West End ‘Theatreland’, The Waldorf was the perfect location to host such an event and provided the most gorgeous backdrop for the day.
Other iconic West End venues provided space for workshops and tours throughout the day: the Lyceum Theatre, Novello Theatre, Aldwych Theatre, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and Dewynters. It really was a West End takeover for the next generation of directors, producers, writers, designers, managers, marketers.
I was lucky enough to be a part of the Media Team for TheatreCraft this year which meant that I handled the social media for the day. The @TheatreCraft Twitter account was buzzing the entire day with enthusiastic attendees, volunteers and experts sharing their experiences of the event. I loved it.
The day kick started at 10am with speeches from some of our ambassadors, including Adam Kenwright, Executive Vice President of ATG who delivered a touching and inspirational speech to the younger generation of theatre-makers. He spoke about his personal connection to theatre, mentioning his delight in watching people captured and blown into a new world, allowing them to leave their troubles behind when watching a performance. I think this is something the audience of young people could really resonate with- it is ultimately our joint interest and passion in theatre that bought every single person to TheatreCraft that day. Kenwright also explained his career background in theatre, explaining how he started out in producing alongside marketing at AKA for eight years before leaving to work at his current role at ATG. He ended his speech by urging everybody to ask five questions a day to promote curiosity, and sent the crowd on their way to do so.
The Marketplace teemed with enthusiastic theatre-lovers. The Waldorf’s Palm Court held nearly forty stalls of a variety of theatre exhibitors including Society of London Theatre, Stage One UK, National Theatre, Global Marketing Group and many many more. Next door, the Adelphi Suite was full of theatre institutions at The Education Hub, these included Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Plymouth College of Art, University of Winchester and East 15 and many more. The Marketplace was the perfect place to network with representatives of the industry and learn more about the different opportunities they offer. Personal favourites of mine include playing with VR headsets with Technicians Make It Happen and flicking through beautiful backstage photos in the Curtain Call book!
I also had the chance to visit some workshops myself. There were a whole range on offer, from producing, directing, choreography, backstage tours, casting, wardrobe and even virtual reality and many more. The first workshop I attended was at the gorgeous Lyceum Theatre, currently home to The Lion King. The workshop was with James Quaife and focused on developing as a producer both Off West End and West End.
As an aspiring producer myself, I found it very interesting to hear from James, who has produced Barking In Essex, Good People, as well as Lady Chatterley’s Lover and French Without Tears with English Touring Theatre. He spoke in an extremely honest manner, pointing out every aspect of the industry in a matter of fact way. For an industry that so often gets swept up in the glitz and glamour of it all, it was refreshing to hear James’ no- nonsense approach. He taught us the ins and outs of funding, networking and how to survive in such a competitive industry.
My next workshop to follow was PR and Marketing in London and On Tour with Target Live, one of the major design and advertising companies for theatre. PR and marketing is something I thought I was fairly familiar with due to my experience working as PR assistant for an arts organisation alongside my blog work. However Target Live presented new ideas and processes for marketing a show- they talked through traditional paper methods as well as technological advancements such as social media. It was the creative ideas that interested me the most, including decorating theatres with key branding, plastering advertisements on unsuspected locations (such as ATMs) and even branded cars to carry the message! I loved finding out more about such large scale marketing for the world- renowned show Dirty Dancing, of which Target Live handle.
I headed to my final workshop of the day which was about Making a Career Out of Creative Freelancing with Roundhouse at the Novello theatre. Linda Bloomfield from Roundhouse chatted to the group about what it takes to be a creative freelancer, from freelance producing to designing and everything in between. Linda was so informative on the subject, pointing out everything from registering as self-employed to how to do your taxes. She taught us the real-life skills that are essential for surviving in the industry that there’s no way I would find out about off my own back. It was super useful and showed me another potential career path for my future.
And that’s where my extremely busy but exciting day at TheatreCraft ended. The whole experience was very inspiring and has opened so many doors for me, in terms of future career prospects in theatre. It makes you realise the vast opportunities on offer in the sector and there is so much help and support to get you where you want to be. We’re so lucky to have an event such as TheatreCraft to help. It was a fantastic experience.
To read Ellie’s full blog, visit littleelliemae.co.uk