Didn’t make it to TheatreCraft this year? Not to worry! Blogger Sophie O’Sullivan has shared her experience of TheatreCraft19…

Image of the TheatreCraft marketplace at the Royal Opera House

TheatreCraft is a refreshing careers event open to young creatives from all walks of life. Once a year, industry professionals and aspiring artists gather together to share tips and tricks on how to tap into the theatre market. With a plethora of opportunities available beyond the stage, it’s no wonder why the creative industries are growing at twice the rate of the economy and contribute £101.5 billion per year.*

What is on offer? What skills are needed? Is further training required? No sweat! TheatreCraft is the place to be for budding young theatre-makers wanting to take the next step in their careers. So, what went down this year?

It was a bright and early start at the Royal Opera House. I kick-started my day in the marketplace. There were a grand total of 62 exhibitors, representing the diversity of roles that are in demand, from scenic carpentry to sound design, choreography, education, fundraising and even marketing. I was lucky enough to touch base with Digital Account Executive Izzy Penhallow from Dewynters, an award-winning marketing and advertising agency. Izzy reiterated the importance of experience. This can be anything from extracurricular activities, voluntary work, real world industry placements or university projects – it all counts. When applying for a job, you can present this scrapbook of experience as a means of articulating your passion for theatre. Employers want to hear about your own personal creative journey and how you would like to hone your craft – be proud of what you have achieved thus far!

Image of the Dewynters stand and the Royal Opera House stand

I also caught up with Rhea Heath from VAULT festival, one of the biggest arts festivals in London – you can check out their website for paid roles in tech or front of house. Or not sure where to specialise? Attend an open day at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and browse through their handy course finder.

It was lovely to reconnect with the National Theatre, who run an eye-opening youth programme for 16-21 year olds. I have benefited from this and have learnt essential stage management, directing and costume design skills. If you are interested, why not try it out? They also have apprenticeships and run work experience placements throughout the year if you fancy dabbling in digital drawing, prop making and other areas.

At last year’s TheatreCraft, I signed up as Volunteer Steward at Shakespeare’s Globe. It’s a great way to gain front line experience, engage with visitors and find out about the management of a theatrical organisation. It was wonderful to see my fellow volunteer Megan on the day as well as Rosie and Ben from the volunteer management team. Definitely apply if you want to support the summer season in 2020!

After a quickfire networking session, I headed off to my workshops. Poet, Critic and Journalist Bridget Minamore led an interesting discussion on theatre journalism in the cosy Amphi Corridor. She outlined how to make a good pitch, interview techniques, payment as a freelancer and the difference between reviews and features. The take-away? Try and see as much theatre as possible and think about your audience!

Photo of young people during a workshop

Next up, I enjoyed a writing, producing and directing workshop at the Lyceum Theatre with Guleraana Mir and Madelaine Moore from The Thelmas. We spoke as a collective about the excitement and challenges of the theatre industry. Right now, producers are in high demand, and they ‘build a narrative that runs alongside the narrative on the stage’. The hardest decision is to start, but as emerging professionals, we have to dare to fail and take risks in order to learn and grow. As Madelaine says, ‘do not wait for someone to empower you’ – invite yourself to the table.

The final ambassadors panel was awe-inspiring. Yamin Choudury, Artistic Director of Hackney Empire, stressed that our peers are the most cutting-edge people today, suggesting that we will all join hands and further develop the future of the theatre industry. Competition is an old model; collaboration is the way forward. My tip would be to make sure to follow up on those contacts you made throughout the event!

Matthew Xia, Michelle Terry and Yamin Choudury during the Ambassadors Panel

What a fantastic experience! I left TheatreCraft 2019 feeling deeply uplifted and motivated to continue my artistic practice as a young creative. The main message? Be bold and seize every opportunity that comes your way! Here’s to next year’s event!

*Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (20128). DCMS Sectors Economic Estimates 2018 (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/dcms-sectors-economic-estimates-2018-employment


Photo credit: James Boyer Smith

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