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Tag Archive | "management"

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TheatreCraft: Introduction to Backstage Careers

Posted on 30 November 2012 by Annabelle Lee

In one of the first workshops at TheatreCraft, Simon Lovelace, the founder of the one-day stagecraft training course Crew Class, provided a fascinating insight into the world of backstage careers. Lovelace covering a diverse range of areas including sound design, lighting, set design, admin and management.

In a culture where everyone now wants to be the star of the show, it’s important to acknowledge that gaining a career backstage is more likely achievable than one on stage. But it’s obviously not always a glamorous lifestyle behind the scenes.

Lovelace offers some useful advice – be prepared for 24 hour days, repetitive tasks, little pay. Sometimes you’ll need to simply do the job, sometimes creativity isn’t the main priority.

Having spoken to Michael Grandage and Julian Bird earlier today, I would also add that it’s got to be a job that you know you really want to do.

As well as appearing to be unglamorous area of the theatre industry, backstage jobs can also be highly competitive. It is vital for anyone interested in a career backstage to get hands-on experience as soon as possible. Whilst vocational non-performance theatre degrees can provide the skills needed to enter the industry, ultimately, it is the experience that really counts and the contacts that you make.

For instance, with the impending panto season, contact the local theatre and inquire for work in the casual pool. Sign up to an agency. LinkedIn provides a valueable platform for showcasing an online CV to wider contacts and the public. Although you might not get the big break instantly, as with anything, perseverance is the key.

Lovelace’s presentation reminded me that even if the role is difficult, the backstage crew are vital to every production and event. Someone has to do the job. Without them, the show inevitably wouldn’t run. Yet, knowing that you are contributing to a team, seeing the performance unfold with all hands on deck and enjoying the audience’s response, the job satisfaction alone can make the task worth it.

Annabelle Lee

Annabelle Lee

Born in Hertfordshire, Annabelle is a graduate from Durham University with an honours degree in Music. She is currently studying for a Master’s in Music at Oxford University and intends to pursue a PhD. She was a Live Blogger for A Younger Theatre at TheatreCraft 2012 and now blogs monthly for A Younger Theatre on the role of music in theatre.

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Inside out: How do you get seen by the right people?

Posted on 19 July 2012 by Camilla Gurtler

I believe every actor’s mum has told him at least once that she will be his manager when he reaches Hollywood. I’ve got at least five people who have promised to manage me if I ever find myself next to Johnny Depp. As a child, the idea of your mum doing all the boring paper work for you till you are forty doesn’t sound too bad. However, getting to know the business you realise your mum’s contacts down the local bakery won’t get you rolling with the RSC.

Getting an agent is vital if you want to work in the industry and get paid more than expenses and a watery coffee from Starbucks. It is extremely frustrating realising that a new production has a character that fits your typecast perfectly – the actor even looks exactly like you – but it’s too late ’cause no one notified you. And why is that? Because you don’t have an agent.

Your agent is the one to push you forth in a business where you will find thousands of other actors who look exactly like you. There are plenty of fish in the sea so you need a specialist to point out to all the buyers why you are better than the salmon next to you. And how are you supposed to be caught by the right people if no one tells them you are there?

That said, it’s not like you can click you fingers and find yourself managed by Ken Mcreddie (a major London agency). If you have a genie, now is the time to rub the lamp and wish, otherwise plenty of hard work and “no”s await you. Because getting an agent is a paradox: you can’t get proper jobs without one, but you can’t get an agent without a proper job to showcase your talent. So what do you do? People say “go to drama school” (in heightened RP and then nod their heads) – but what if drama school is not for you? Is the business then closed to you?

It is like Peter Pan without his shadow – he cannot live without it, but he has to, at least until it is sewed back on. Your agent is your shadow, the one who watches over you and pushes you in the right direction. They are there to make money, and so are you which makes it very beneficial: two people pushing for you to succeed is better than one.

So if you are missing your shadow at the moment it might be intimidating, but don’t give up and let others bring you down. Get as many jobs on your own as possible, show off what you can do, contact as many agencies as you can. Worst case scenario is a “no thank you”, which you should be used to by now. Mother Fortune will wave her wand a little at some point and if not, well, then it’s bad Starbucks coffee and expenses only while mum is doing her manager-magic.

Image credit: Xiaojun Deng.

Camilla Gurtler

Camilla Gurtler

Camilla is currently training as a director on the Young Directors’ Programme with StoneCrabs Theatre Company. Camilla has worked as a director, actress and writer in Denmark and London, and loves Shakespeare, greek tragedies and children’s theatre. She’s obsessed with coffee, dislikes ranting on stage and hates the colour yellow. Especially mustard-yellow.

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