I graduated from BA (Hons) European Theatre Arts (ETA) in 2011 – and found my feet interning at The Old Vic, before moving throughout the regions coordinating and delivering Creative Education programmes for organisations ranging from the tiny yet historic Theatre Royal Margate to the Royal Shakespeare Company. I worked at the RSC for nearly two years before moving to Leeds to manage the Primary-focussed Education programme for the West Yorkshire Playhouse. In 2014 I implemented the Primary Players Shakespeare Festival which each year brings hundreds of primary-age children from across Leeds together in a collaborative main-stage professional Shakespeare performance each year at the Playhouse. (I’m currently in the midst of directing 200 7-10 year olds in Romeo & Juliet!).
Whilst in Leeds, alongside my continued work for the West Yorkshire Playhouse and freelance directing work, I founded family theatre company Wrongsemble – creating innovative and joyfully anarchic family touring performance for all ages. Our first show ‘Three’ continues to tour nationally with the acclaimed Half Moon Children’s Theatre, and our second show ‘Billy Shakes: Wonder Boy!’ has just hit the road touring throughout Yorkshire. Alongside this, Wrongsemble have also just won three new commissions for 2017/18: the first sees us creating a new outdoor promenade performance with Creative Scene adapted from JM Barrie’s classic ‘Peter Pan’ for August of this year- ‘Pan the Park’ is our largest project to date. The second is a new performance installation for schools and families in partnership with Leeds Libraries and Leeds Light Night called ‘The Shadowmakers’. Then in 2018 we are staging a modern re-imagination of Oscar Wilde’s classic ‘The Selfish Giant’ for Barnsley Civic and Stockton ARC.
The skills and experience gained from my time on ETA are ever-present in the work I do day-to-day running my own company. I learnt so much about the importance of being a resourceful and resilient theatre-maker (and human!) – being able to make use of what you have available to you, and never shying away from a challenge. I don’t know where else I would have learnt the skills to produce, design, direct, stage-manage and write my own work by day – and moonlight making costumes and props, and writing funding applications! My work with schools and communities, and the skills to facilitate these types of projects, were developed every day during my degree; working with countless prolific artists and highly-skilled Tutors, and being encouraged to lead our own workshops and sessions constantly. One of the many things that sets the brilliant training apart on ETA is the opportunity to study abroad. During my second year placement at Institute del Teatro in Barcelona we were given complete creative freedom to take on the mantle of a professional artist and explore our own specific areas of interest in a safe and supportive environment.
To anyone considering going on the ETA journey (it’s so much more than a degree) – I would say that you’d be hard-pushed to find another course that will offer you the same wealth of skills, challenges and experiences. You’ll be supported by field-leading experts every step of the way, and you’ll be brilliantly prepared for the professional artistic world which waits on the other side of study!
Watch the trailer for Billy Shakes: Wonder Boy