On Monday 19 November, TheatreCraft 2018, London’s largest free event for 16-30 year olds seeking non-performance careers in theatre, took place at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel. On Wednesday, we enjoyed recaps of the day from blogger Sophie Edward and editor Matt Howorth. Below, Junior Blog Editor, Laura Sargeant, writes for us about why she found TheatreCraft to be such a vital event for young people looking for their first steps into theatre. All photography is by Charles Michael Duke, TheatreCraft’s Junior Photography Editor.
With workshops on everything from costume design to crafting an online presence, TheatreCraft 2018 was the largest yet, supplying some of the biggest names from across the industry. The event takes over mammoth spaces including the iconic Waldorf Hotel, the Adelphi, Lyceum and Novello Theatres with everything newbies (and not-so-newbies) to the industry could possibly need. And the best part? It’s completely free! Read on for what I got up to during my day there.
Wandering around the stalls setting up in the Marketplace I managed to grab a chat with some of the exhibitors before the excitement began. With some first-timers and some time-honoured pros, each had a different idea of what they were looking for from this year’s event. TheatreCraft pros Jacek Ludwig Scarso & Andrew Siddall from the London Metropolitan University discovered that the exhibition is as much a learning curve for them as it is for the attendees. Bringing new and exciting changes to the table each year, TheatreCraft gives the opportunity to listen to what young career-seekers are really interested in and provide accordingly. Their advice for newbies? “See and do” says Andrew. From the littlest project to the biggest West End productions, every experience feeds your skills and creativity. Their teaching staff certainly live by that mantra, with every member still active in the industry.
My first time at TheatreCraft was certainly eventful and making the trip down from Stoke (the Midlands) was definitely worth the journey. Pulling together crafters and theatre educators from all walks of life and every imaginable discipline makes TheatreCraft the place to be for theatre-lovers. Theatre journalist Matt Trueman pointed out that without events like this, we might not ever discover careers in theatre beyond acting itself. The collections of designers, publicity teams, directors, technicians and engineers here say otherwise.
For those making the journey into the world of the arts for the first time, TheatreCraft shows that to love the theatre does not always mean a love of performing. Where else could you walk from a masterclass in CV building or finance to an immersive workshop at the Adelphi (home to Kinky Boots), with theatre aficionados Les Enfants Terribles? Exhibitors from the University of South Wales were also keen to point out that not every arts job need centre around the stage saying, “our graduates are basically engineers”. Students from here are equipped for everything from festivals to roles in sound and video.
Hosted by Matt Trueman, the grand finale came in the form a packed Q&A session with TheatreCraft’s 2018 ambassadors: Griselda Yorke (RSC Lead Producer), Christopher Oram (British Theatre Designer), Indhu Rubasingham (Kiln Theatre Artistic Director) and Tamara Harvey (Artistic Director of Theatr Clwyd). Talking through everything from box office jobs to costume design on Broadway, the pros filled us all in on just how exactly they got where they are today. Griselda was keen to stress that “it’s important to be grateful and ask for advice along the way”, stressing that theatre is a community built on trust and mutual admiration. Both Indhu and Tamara recommended experimentation as a key component to success; “part of the way you find your voice is by finding what you hate” joked Indhu, whilst Tamara focused on the benefits of being able to look at things from lots of different angles. Welcome words for those of us still in the finding-our-way phase!
The overarching theme of the day? Do what you love, find your passion and stick to it! As today has showed me, the world of theatre and the arts takes endless forms with a niche for everyone. Looking at the opportunities on offer, it’s clear that events like TheatreCraft make it easier to enter a career in the arts, one step at a time.