If you’re enjoying our content, then please consider becoming a member, with every penny going towards keeping paying AYT going and paying our very talented team of young creatives. For more information, visit: https://www.patreon.com/ayoungertheatre.
As theatres begin to reopen on May 17th, many of us will go back to working front of house in theatres. As ‘theatre-people’, this is inevitably the sort of part-time role we fall into but as Eunmin Na writes, anyone can fall into these jobs and find them rewarding.
I was never really involved in plays at school. I would watch the occasional musical on a school trip, took compulsory drama classes in Year 8 and did my LAMDA exams because everyone else was taking them. I always believed that plays and musicals were not ‘for me’. I considered myself someone who enjoyed art because I frequented museums and galleries but viewed theatre to be a completely different scene, thinking it only appealed to a specific demographic of people who took part in school plays.
By chance, I happened to get a job working Front of House at a West End theatre during my first year of university in 2019, despite knowing virtually nothing about theatre. I was offered the job by a new friend I had made through volunteer work, who happened to be the manager!
Upon starting my very first shift, I noticed that I came from a different background and had different career goals to others. I pursued a humanities degree, hoping to work in journalism or marketing after graduation, whereas the majority of my co-workers were aspiring actors and drama school students. Whilst my background definitely made me stand out a little, I nonetheless felt like I fitted in perfectly, thanks to the sheer range of people that were already present in the room. Whether they were performers or not, everyone was so unique in their own way and there was always something new to be learnt from and shared with each person.
I found that one of the most valuable things you could gain from working with a diverse team of theatre workers is that its environment allows room for many interesting conversations. For example, I could share my knowledge of the literature and historical context behind The Odyssey, which I had studied in depth as part of my degree, with my co-workers, and an interesting discussion on its portrayal in modern day theatre would occur! As a result, both parties felt like we had mutually benefitted by gaining a deeper and different insight into the same work of art.
Working at a theatre also gave me an excellent opportunity to broaden my horizons on all sorts of art through numerous recommendations made by my co-workers, from plays, music, books to exhibitions. Whilst this definitely involved leaving my comfort zone, which was a challenge in itself, it really expanded my perspectives and I now enjoy a more varied range of arts. Also, through these conversations, I could make connections with people whom I would never have known if it wasn’t for my job – making life-long friends in the end!
Overall, I would say that Front of House work brings people together no matter what background they come from and what they aspire to be. I could not think of a better environment which allows you to remain an active part of the performing arts whilst pursuing other endeavours, whether it be in the creative industry or something else. I would absolutely recommend a Front of House job to anyone as the skills and the experience you gain from it are invaluable, and a good stepping stone for careers both within and outside the industry. It is also a great chance to develop and enrich yourself as a person. I know that I can owe much of my achievements so far – from the Student Ambassador job I was offered by my university to the recent promotion to editor role I got whilst writing for a music magazine – to my experiences working in the West End and that I will continue to grow as a person because of it.