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 and across multiple West End venues. Junior Blog Editor, Sophie Edward, wrote all about the eye-opening day below, while you can also enjoy a short film trailer by Matt Howorth, Junior Film Editor, at the bottom of the page. All photography is by Charles Michael Duke, TheatreCraft’s Junior Photography Editor.
You take your seat at the theatre, the infamous red velvet curtain opens, and you spend the next few hours being immersed in another world by the actors on stage. Hold on… anticipation builds throughout the auditorium as the lights dim and the orchestra plays, and they’re wearing such elaborate costumes! Look how seamlessly the set navigates around the stage. The actors must have had intricate direction to ensure they’re in the correct place at the right time. And how brilliant the lighting is, to evoke such emotion. In addition, the programme is creative and engaging, not to mention all those ads!
So the actor may be what you see, but they are actually a vessel for an entire crew’s work. Just as theatre critic Matt Trueman said today, “it’s easy to look at the stage and think ‘I want to be an actor’, when there’s many people working on a production” to make it come alive, and TheatreCraft is the only destination to discover all the careers you never even knew existed in the theatre industry!
So, on November 19th I went along to the annual event, TheatreCraft, at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel. This year’s Ambassadors were Tamara Harvey, Artistic Director of Theatre Clwyd; Christopher Oram, Set & Costume Designer; Indhu Rubasingham, Artistic Director of Kiln Theatre; and Griselda Yorke, Lead Producer for the Royal Shakespeare Company. They led an inspirational Super Panel session, sharing their journeys from their first roles, to what they do now. As Tamara Harvey explained, “it’s not a race, even though it’s really easy to feel like it is one”, which was greeted with a sigh of relief from the audience as many people put an immense amount of pressure on themselves to get their ‘dream job’ immediately – however, by taking other roles on your path to getting there, you’ll learn invaluable knowledge and could even find you’re better skilled for another role!
The first place I visited was the vibrant Marketplace, which was buzzing with inquisitive aspirational theatre makers picking the brains of the theatres, organisations and colleges exhibiting.
The Marketplace is a friendly environment to network and find potential jobs or internships. One of the many companies there was Opera Holland Park, which makes opera accessible to a wider audience through their social inclusion programme and Young Artists Scheme. The latter allows a young cast to use a professional space, be mentored and then perform to a ticketed audience; the show is followed by a networking reception. Their Associate Producer, Imogen Van Santvoort, explained the importance of the reception and that it can definitely be “who you know” when it comes to securing a job, which is why talking to as many people as possible at TheatreCraft is beneficial.
Emma Hele, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, said “at the age when you have to choose what to study, a lot of people don’t know what to do”, a point which was mirrored by The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama Head of Theatre Practice, Dr Kathrine Sandys, who stressed that “young people aren’t having exposure” into all the different roles that are available. By attending TheatreCraft you have the fantastic opportunity to discuss all the courses available and the different sectors you could go into, so you’re able to make an informed decision.
I attended three workshops, two of which were all about writing a musical or a play. They were both interactive and insightful and gave a good understanding of the process of writing, whilst stressing the significance of making strong relationships within the industry and getting work. Playwright Jake Brunger highlighted the importance of social media and advised us all that “following people on Twitter gets you work – even if they don’t follow you back, make sure to engage with their content”, which was echoed by playwright Charley Miles’ views on ensuring you use the network you created whilst at University to bounce ideas off of and create free work with.
The last talk I joined was PR in the Digital Age at Dewynters, led by David Bloom of Story House, which began with a great discussion about the difference between a Marketing and PR Agency. Bloom then went on to reveal some tricks of the trade on how to create a successful PR campaign for a production. Izzy Penhallow, a marketing & communications student at Bournemouth University, explained “nobody talks about theatre marketing within my course”, so this TheatreCraft workshop gave her specific knowledge needed for her desired job.
As you leave TheatreCraft you are stepping out into a world of possibilities. The workshops you’ve attended and the contacts you’ve made in the Marketplace give you the confidence and inspiration to put your foot in the theatre industry door and become a theatre maker of the future – so see you all next year!
Matt Howorth, Junior Film Editor, summarised the day brilliantly with his short trailer here: