Careers Masterclass for 200 Local Students

We invited 200 students from schools all across the South West to peek behind the curtain and learn about hidden careers in theatre. This event was arranged in liaison with UK-wide youth charity Speakers for Schools, who share our belief in throwing open the doors for young people. So, one morning in November, we did just that.

Hidden Careers in Theatre

We began with an eye-opening presentation from our Creative Engagement Team, Lisa and Jacob, about hidden careers in theatre. They led a whistle-stop tour through all the people it takes to get a touring show on the road.

Did you know that for every single performer you see on stage, there are tens of people who helped to get them there? Even those of us who actually do work in theatre (cough) were surprised to discover the sheer number of different kinds of stage managers out there. Jacob even attempted one of the hardest challenges known to theatre professionals: explaining what a ‘dramaturg’ does.

A photograph from the Northcott's Speakers for Schools event: Jacob Blackburn, wearing jeans and a dark shirt, stands on stage and gestures.
Photo by Monica Yell
A photograph from Exeter Northcott's Speakers for Schools event: Lisa Hudson stands in the Barnfield Theatre auditorium, smiling at students.
Photo by Monica Yell

Questions & Answers

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion. Team members from across our organisation were joined by Amelie, a representative from one of our springboards for fledgling theatremakers, Northcott Young Creatives.

The panel also took questions from the audience. The highlights included ‘If you had to swap jobs with one of your colleagues, who would you choose?’, ‘What is your favourite thing about your job?’ and ‘What is your dream role on stage?’ That last question hit on one of the central themes of the event; although not everyone who works in the industry is a performer, we’re all theatre kids at heart.

Getting Into Theatre

There was a lot to learn, not just that Caroline (our Head of People) fancies a go at starring in Hamilton, and some people actually enjoy a good budget spreadsheet (Harry, Head of Finance), but also the huge range of different routes there are to working in theatre. Members of the panel had gone to university, studied vocational courses, started working straight after leaving school, or moved into theatre from a different industry altogether.

A photograph from Exeter Northcott's Speakers for Schools event: a young woman sitting in a panel holds a microphone and smiles.
Photo by Monica Yell
6 Northcott staff-members and a member of the Northcott Young Creatives sit side-by-side on one side of a long table with their names displayed in front of them.
Photo by Monica Yell

Next Steps

Our Speakers for Schools event was an invaluable opportunity to engage with young people face-to-face, and encourage them to imagine a career in theatre. Our commitment to nurturing local talent and improving access into theatre was underlined by an invitation to apply for our annual work experience programme.

We hope that every student who came could see themselves sitting among the panel in a few years’ time, sharing insights into a job which they love.

Learn more about our work experience

The event was also a chance to shine a light onto those who don’t normally get the credit they deserve, because they’re too busy shining lights on others (quite literally in the case of our technical team). It may take a village to put on a play, but it takes at least a hamlet (if you’ll pardon the pun) to put on a masterclass.

So special thanks to the following people for making our Speakers for Schools event possible: Dan Baker, Jacob Blackburn, Jess Brind, Elaine Faulkner, Elly Fitzpatrick, Lisa Hudson, Caroline Nissen, Harry Richardson, and Amelie Skilton.

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