10 Things I Have Learned Working In Theatre #2

I’ve been at the Bush now for a while now and it’s a year since I last wrote one of these listicles on things I’ve learnt working in theatre. Back then, we’d just reopened the gloriously refurbished building; now we’re preparing to celebrate our one year on anniversary. I’ve done three season launches, many many show campaigns, written the digital strategy for our business plan and am soon to get a cheeky title upgrade. So all good at Bush Towers.

  1. Stage Management can make or break a production campaign. You learn this the hard way in marketing because if the SM doesn’t have a firm grip on the rehearsal room with time planned for interviews, photography and marketing sign-off your whole content plan can go to pot. We get that the creative process is tough and time is of the essence but it seriously effects sales when you can’t get replies to emails or access to the rehearsal room. Equally, I’ve had my absolute BEST nights out with some of our SMs who also were the most amazing to work alongside.
  2. Step and repeat boards are way fun. We had a photoshoot. We felt fancy. Everyone loved it.
  3. You should have a conversation with housemates about your sleeping pattern sooner rather than later. If you don’t live with people in the industry, they’ll be getting up one or two hours earlier than you. That’s painful if you stayed up late reading scripts or got back late from press night and then there’s clattering at 6.45am in the kitchen. Hopefully you live with nice people and they’ll gettit.
  4. If you can’t make it, don’t ghost a theatre that’s given you comps. I’ve learnt this from the distributor side of things. It’s impolite, but most of all, there will be people counting every seat that is given away. You’ve been invited for a reason and not releasing those seats back to the world is bad form.
  5. FOH are still the awesomest people to speak to. One of ours is bringing her show to the Bush. Others are making great work elsewhere. And they all work so hard.
  6. People have mad ideas and sometimes you just have to deal with it. You’re not always going to agree on decisions that get made about all sorts of things. In marketing you tend to feel like you have ownership over so much that goes on, especially in a small team. There’s lots of times when you have to practice patience and let things go.
  7. You can multitask better than you ever imagined. If you have to. At the moment I’m producing four bits of film content all due this month, with a show opening next week, an anniversary event to help plan, four scripts to read, a newsletter to make, a flyer to get printed and a gazillion bits of artwork to design. Plus, y’know, the day to day stuff of my job. Keep calm and all that.
  8. Press managers have all the goss. Seriously. Give them a beer and they’ll talk to the ends of the earth. I’m mentioning no one in particular.
  1. There are still lots of old white men making tokenistic gestures of inclusion.  I mean, obviously, but it really struck me when the Olivier Awards announced their collaboration with Time’s Up. Sometimes it feels like nothing is changing: for women, people of colour, those with disabilities, the working class, people of faith and the lgbtqi+ community in the arts.
  2. So, look to the inspiring stuff out there. Listen to stories like someone getting 200+ young Black people to see a show or the Royal Court’s young women given a united voice in TakeUpSpace, or see incredible work from new writers, or sit in a symposium about genuinely community focused work. And then it all feels a bit better and I remember why we do what we do.
Young women at the Royal Court Theatre