TheatreCraft 2017: get creative, get confident

“Knowledge is power” Lyn Gardner said in her opening speech at TheatreCraft on the 3rd November. Returning this year at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel, at the heart of the West End, the free event was an inspiring day around and about offstage careers.

London is famous for its entertainment, and the accessibility and variety of theatre performances are without competitors – well, apart a certain ‘Broadway’ beyond the pond. What may sometimes be forgotten, though, is the huge amount of work going in setting and keep rolling on the play.

From the light, to the sound, from painting the scenes, to creating the costumes, from the director’s offices, to the marketing department: working in theatre doesn’t imply only acting! And if you think of how many people work behind the scenes – just have a look at the set and roughly calculate that any element on it needs a professional -, compared to the number of performers the audience actually sees, you can have a rough idea of how big is the machine of single show.

Ambassadors, partners, and sponsors.
As ambassador for TheatreCraft 2017, Lyn Gardner shared her experience in getting into the industry, without networks and not coming from a wealthy family. The renowned journalist and critic told the young attendees how difficult it was at the beginning even to think to make a career out of her passion for theatre. However, the high and lows of the job markets and the many cuts to the sector, young people are once again advised to look elsewhere for their future.

In summer 2017, a report commissioned by the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre found that the creative industry is suffering with funding and missed guidance for the new entries.

Stage Your Career
The research, conducted by Nordicity and the editor of The Stage Alistair Smith, discovered that an increasingly lack of training opportunities, missed information at the education level, and inadequacy of nurturing of the workforce culture risk to lose many talents. Shortage of offstage professionals comes with poor consequences on all the sector.

Again, Gardner remarked the importance of not being discouraged by the mainstream opinion or the general ways of saying when embarking a creative career. Many claim a job in the performing arts is highly insecure. But in current difficult world, which path is a safe choice? Working in finance property, or law was once hold as a stable appointment, but how much can be said the same today?

Getting hands on and work experiences of different types are invaluable helps. But, as the bottom line of all these efforts, there should be the certainty it’s definitely not time wasted, at all.

Workshop in progress
More than a career fair, TheatreCraft was packed with workshops and ask-the-expert conversations. The first offered hands-on sessions and the opportunity to ask for practical advice from a great variety of backstage professionals.

Interesting and new for me were the sessions Life as a Scenic Artist, with the Head of Scenic Artist for the Royal Opera House Emma Troubridge, and Character to Costume, with designer Jane Linz Roberts. Whereas the afternoon workshop Beyond Words, with Alex Wood Editorial Assistant at WhatsOnStage, provided an invaluable insight into the new frontiers of journalism, e.g. digital journalism.

a lovely goody from SOLT stall
In addition to these, the Stage Your Careers zone was open for CVs tips, Q&As with the experts, or simply for an exchange of thoughts on the first steps to starting out.

With the Marketplace continuously bubbling with new faces and smiles, the event was a lively and thought-provoking day, countering the gloomy predictions on the arts sector. Ask questions, get curious, and arm yourself with knowledge were recurring suggestions.

As this year’s ambassador said, no fear should hold you in finding your feet in an industry that you love, and that will certainly love you back.

To find out more about TheatreCraft, head to their website or connect through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).