TheatreCraft: Beyond the stage is an event that offers workshops, one-to-one career advice and an exhibition, informing visitors about the many opportunities in off-stage theatre careers.
This year’s event was held at the London Coliseum, home of the English National Opera. The day was launched in the auditorium with an impressive backdrop design in place. Visitors were welcomed by designer William Dudley, a 14-time Olivier award nominee, winning seven for his work on plays such as Hitchcock Blonde.
Dudley described his first encounter with theatre design as ‘love at first sight’. He was impressed with the number of students in attendance and encouraged visitors to consider a career in backstage arts, explaining: ‘It’s never boring – it’s a very strange and exciting thing that can take you round the world.’
There was a good selection of workshops on offer, covering a variation of careers, such as stage management, fundraising, development, costume design and even becoming a critic. Teaching Drama attended ‘working with young people’ – an hour long workshop led by Talawa Theatre Company’s participation and education officer, Gail Babb.
It was largely a discussion–based workshop which allowed each participant to introduce themselves and mention any relevant experience they had working with young people. Babb offered us advice on how to find work experience placements, getting the right kind of CRB check and what to consider when approaching an institution with a workshop.
The workshop wasn’t made up of recommended exercises to use with young people – instead it offered a very realistic and knowledgeable insight into working with young people and the hard work and persistence it takes to start working in theatre.
TheatreCraft also houses just under 30 different organisations in its exhibition. Big names like the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and The Stage had stalls, offering visitors the opportunity to liaise with some of the most important companies in the theatre industry.
TheatreCraft is ideal for students looking to go into higher education. There was a strong presence of educational institutions at the marketplace, including representatives from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, East 15 and Regents College London: School of Film, Media and Performance. This gave students the chance to look at some of the more specialised courses available in backstage theatre.
The event also has some relevance for younger students. The RSC, Mousetrap and Ambassador Theatre Group were offering discounted tickets and workshops. The RSC were promoting their scheme The Key, which provides greater access to 16-25 year olds by offering £5 tickets and discounted student coach trips.
Most of the material on offer is relevant to students, rather than teachers – with low price theatre tickets for the under 25’s. However, theatre companies such as Mousetrap run the Teachers Preview Club, a membership offering teachers individual or group tickets at a discounted price.
With impressive names in attendance, speaking so enthusiastically about their careers, TheatreCraft is a great place to become inspired – for your students, or for yourself. Recommended for slightly older students but is still a great chance for younger students to start thinking about the future and gain a realistic idea of what it is like to really work in theatre from some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry.
To find out more about the companies that attended the exhibition visit www.TheatreCraft.org