Hello everyone, here we are the middle of the working week, and I am in bed, after being knocked out with the flu asleep for the past 19 hours! So I hope you guys are feeling brighter eyed and bushier tailed than I am right now!
Ironically, as I am off sick, today I thought I would chat a little about what it actually is I do for work. I talk a lot on here about following my dream job and I think most of you know that I work in theatre, but even my own parents aren’t always entirely sure what it is I do, so hopefully this will clarify that, and not be too boring.
I’m one of the lucky ones, since I was 9 years old I’ve always known what it is that I wanted to do. It started like with most people, by acting in a school play, then I moved onto a few productions with university students who needed a child actor and then my local amateur dramatics group. I loved acting, but I never went to drama school or classes. It wasn’t so much the acting that really captured me but the process of being in a show as a whole, the idea of putting something together from words on a page, and making people see and believe that story, and hopefully be entertained in some way by it. It was the magic that theatre can create, for those on and off stage that I loved.
I’ve also always been a bit of a realist, and the idea of trying to make it as an actor scared me. I have so many amazing talented friends that are actors, and I admire them so much for having that gut and determination, which I think is what you need more than anything to make it in that line. I just didn’t have it, and I also had the added thing at 18 of being one of the kids who was ‘meant to go to university.’ I managed to find the balance though and studied English Literature and Theatre Studies, and loved every minute of it.
Fast forward three years, and here I am on my 21st birthday, a graduate back home, with absolutely no idea of how to turn a degree into a job, and also not really sure of what all the jobs in theatre were. Something which I think all degree courses need to spend a bit more time doing, is explaining how what you learn at uni transfers into the working world. Just a list of possible job titles and what they actually mean would be nice!
ANYWAY. I found an internship, doing some arts marketing, which also gave me the chance to get back into performing. At uni I had studied all these great writers and theatre companies, but hadn’t really spent any time, working out what theatre I was interested in. So I started off writing a couple of kids stories, and wanted to make the stage like a giant pop-up story book. Then came my first grown up show ‘Confessions of a Waitress’ I had all these stories to tell from working in a restaurant, stories I knew other people would understand. I toured than into theatres, festivals, and best of all, performed it in actual restaurants. All the while still working at my internship, and putting in the odd shift, of actual waitressing.
Then I got to work on my second show, this time much more personal. ‘Love Letters and Other Pointless Scribbles.‘ A show about getting my heart broken and my Grandma’s Alzheimers. The shows I make are a lot like this blog. You don’t come along and see an actor acting out a story, it’s me on stage telling you about my life, just in a slightly more theatrical manner, than if we were sat having a cup of tea.
In the process of touring with this show, I left Manchester moved home and returned to full time waitress. I loved writing and performing, and I still do but it doesn’t pay the bills. I’ve worked on a few community arts projects, helping people with Alzheimers express themselves, and created a specially commissioned show for a coastal festival, and every now and then I still do a spot of storytelling. I don’t ever want to give up performing, and maybe in the future I will work out, how to be an artist and get paid for it, but for now I have another job in theatre that I absolutely love.
So as many of you know, last June I moved to Blackburn, for my first ever ‘proper’ job. That is a job with a salary, and a set up that vaguely looks like 9-5. In a nutshell what that job is, is to choose which shows get put on in several theatres near where I live. But better than that, I get to go out and talk to people about what they would actually like to see, and inspire people that thought that theatre wasn’t for them to give it a try.
Over all, my career in theatre looks like it has been a bit here there and everywhere. And it sort of has, but through it all, I have stuck with the idea that I want to make theatre about and for everyday people ‘theatre my dad understands.’ I love theatre, it has completely and utterly shaped my life, and in many ways, I am one of those people that sees their job as a bit of a definition of who they are, but I think that is ok, I think that if you are passionate about something then of course it is going to be a huge part of you and your life.
Choosing a career is hard. Choosing to follow a career in something that you are passionate about can be even harder. I can honestly say I’ve had my heart broken more times by my career than I have by guys. But it also makes you more determined, and ultimately happier. When people ask me for advice about what career to take, I don’t try and sugar coat it. Be prepared for it to be just as tough as it is amazing, and if you don’t think you can take the good with the bad, find something that you can.
In my office we have a quote on the wall that says ‘People thrive when they can live and work in their element’ and I couldn’t have said it better myself. In all honesty I am not entirely sure what my next step is once this project finishes in a year, maybe a masters, maybe another 9-5, but I know that if I stick to my core value of ‘theatre for the everyday’ then I will be happy.
Live life & yes follow your dreams x
ps. you can find out more about my theatre company Teacup Theatre here.