Theatrecraft at the Royal Opera House.

On Friday 22 November, the Royal Opera House opened its doors to over 1,000 young theatremakers for TheatreCraft 2013. The event is tailored to those who want to work in theatre but not as actors, and there’s plenty on offer, from workshops to Meet the Experts sessions to networking hubs. TheatreCraft is the place to be to learn about the business, meet peers you may one day work alongside, and discover how best to go about pursuing your passion – so if you missed out on this year’s event, make sure it doesn’t happen again!

Everyone knows getting into theatre can be tough, which is why the event is such a great forum to bring together so many people and possibilities. When there are so many ways of forging your career, on top of there being so much competition, it can be hard to even know where to start. This is where many of the workshops at TheatreCraft came in. ‘On the Way to Directing’, led by Rob Hastie, Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse, encouraged young directors to really think about what an assistant director brings to the rehearsal room. Moreover, Hastie was incredibly helpful in pinpointing how you can ensure that you are not only the best person for the job, but the best person at the job when you are hired. Equally, Greg Eldridge’s question and answer session was invigorating, with Eldridge encouraging emerging directors to get out there, pester people and make things happen – just as he had done two years earlier having arrived from Australia without knowing a soul (he is now a director at the Royal Opera House, so not a bad example to go by).

Between attending workshops, a great place to browse was the Marketplace, which was lined with stands run by various theatre companies, institutions and organisations. Many people these days are tending towards training before they work in the business, so this was a great way to talk to the people running the courses and find out whether they were suitable for you. Equally, theatre companies from Paines Plough to the RSC were on hand to discuss opportunities, making it a great way to really get to know these companies on a personal level and find out what exactly they do.

A highlight of the day was the Meet the Experts session, where participants got the opportunity to sign up with a specialist in their field and discuss their career path. I was fortunate enough to sit down with director, Abbey Wright, who gave me invaluable advice, as well as reminding me that forging a career in theatre is as much about holding your nerve as it is talent or experience.

TheatreCraft is a thoroughly worthwhile day, made all the better by the gorgeous surroundings at the Royal Opera House and the sheer enthusiasm of everyone in attendance. And while no one is there to give you the secret code to successfully making a sustainable career in theatre (I swear one day I’ll discover there is one!), and while no amount of good advice will necessarily make the journey any smoother or easier, it is always great to know that you are not alone in wanting to work in the creative arts and equally that there are plenty of pathways and possibilities there for you to grab with both hands.

Photo (c) Alex Rumford