Name: Rosanna Sloan
Graduated: BA (Hons) European Theatre Arts (ETA) 2012
Current Role: Artistic Director Unexpected Places & Light UP
Our company creates performances in and from unexpected places with recent projects including a verbatim show about residents opinions on Southampton called ‘Our Neck of the Woods’ and a commission creating a family puppet show, ‘Blighty One’ (with an all ETA cast), about the history of Netley Military Hospital in World War One. Last year Unexpected Places became the first theatre company in the country to be running a community library, with our project partners SCA, and through this we have been working to reimagine library spaces and increase community participation in Southampton. Alongside creating performances and our work with libraries we also run a youth theatre, Light UP, helping young people in Hampshire build their own performance skills. We are currently a team of ten.
I knew before I attended ETA that I wanted to start my own theatre company- so when I heard about ETA it seemed like the perfect fit for me. After graduating I decided to take up a Marketing Internship at the Barbican - as I knew I’d need these skills to start a company. I was very surprised to discover that I really enjoyed the creativity involved in marketing and I continued to a few other part-time marketing roles in theatres, alongside teaching drama. I then worked with an absolutely wonderful company called The Spark Arts for Children gaining producing and general management experience; culminating in programming a children's theatre festival. At the same time Unexpected Places took its first show ‘From Scraps’ to The Tobacco Factory, LPAC and Prague Fringe Festival.
I then moved back to my hometown and started running some drama classes, as I missed teaching and I wanted to use my skills to help children in the area - it started almost as a hobby and three years later, Light UP now run classes in 10 locations with over 230 students. I have learnt a lot about running a business through Light UP’s expansion, having to research and learn new skills such as accounting, budget management, legal information (all the non-creative skills I don’t enjoy!) quickly. I think the only reason this hasn’t phased me is due to the ‘can do’ attitude ETA promotes. We like to bring a bit of the ethos of Unexpected Places, and ETA, into the youth theatre, for example one of our next youth theatre productions will be an outdoor Halloween event at a 17th century village and an original play about the Titanic performed on a real boat out at sea!
Besides the practical skills and knowledge the course has given me, ETA also gave me the resilience to work long hours, work hard and solve difficult problems. I would advise any new students to definitely write notes on classes (as strenuous as this might feel!) , as you don't know when you might need to use the information again, and to try and develop a second skill to help pay the bills when you are first starting out; whether that's teaching, making websites, private tuition etc.
One vital skill that ETA has taught me is the ability to multitask and work with many different 'hats' on. The question I never know how to answer is 'what do you do?!'.