With workshops on everything from costume design to crafting an online presence, TheatreCraft 2018 was the biggest yet. Supplying some of the biggest name drops including Royal Shakespeare Company’s Lead Producer (insert fangirl shriek here) and Tony & Olivier-award-winner Christopher Oram, this year’s event was a year of firsts. Taking over mammoth spaces including the iconic Waldorf Hotel, the Adelphi, Lyceum and Novello theatres with everything newbies (and not-so-newbies) to the industry could possibly need. And the best part? It’s completely free! Read on for what I got up to during my day there.
Wandering around the stalls setting up I managed to grab a chat with some of the exhibitors before the excitement began. With some first timers and some time-honed pros, each had a different idea of what they were looking for from this year’s event. TheatreCraft pros Jacek Ludwig Scarso & Andrew Siddall have learned that the exhibition is as much a learning curve for them as it is for the attendees. Bringing new and exciting changes to the table each year, TheatreCraft gives the opportunity to listen to what young career-makers are really interested in, and provide accordingly. Their advice for newbies? “See and do” says Andrew. From the littlest project to the biggest West End productions, every experience feeds your skills and creativity. Their teaching staff certainly live by that mantra, with every member still active in the industry.
My first time to TheatreCraft was certainly eventful. Making the trip down from Stoke (the Midlands) was definitely worth the journey. Pulling together crafters and theatre educators from all walks of life and every imaginable discipline offers the place to be for arts-lovers. Without diving in to events like this, Matt Trueman pointed out, we would all be led to believe that to love the theatre, you have to love acting itself. The collections of designers, publicity officers and engineers of all sorts here say otherwise.
For those making the journey into the world of the arts for the first time, TheatreCraft shows that to love the theatre does not always mean a love of performing. Where else would you go from a master-class in CV building or finance to a workshop at the Adelphi (of Kinky Boots fame), with immersive theatre aficionados Les Enfants Terribles? Exhibitors from the University of South Wales were also keen to point out that not every arts job need centre around the stage saying, “our graduates are basically engineers”. Equipping their students for everything from festivals to roles in sound and video, close ties to the industry supply immersive work placements and more.
The grand finale lay in a bustling Q&A of the day’s ambassadors, led by journalist Matt Trueman. Talking through everything from box office jobs to costume design on Broadway, the pros filled us all in on just how exactly they got where they are today. Griselda Yorke (RSC Lead Producer) was keen to stress that “it’s important to be grateful and ask for advice along the way” with a stress on theatre and the arts as a community built on trust and mutual admiration. Both Indhu Rubasingham and Tamara Harvey recommended experimentation as the key. “Part of the way you find your voice is by finding what you hate” joked Indhu whilst Tamara focused on the benefits of being able to look at things from lots of different angles. Welcome words for those of us still in the finding-our-way phase!
The overarching theme of the day? Do what you love, find your passion and stick to it! As today’s event showed me, the world of theatre and the arts takes endless forms with a niche for everyone. Looking at the opportunities on offer, it’s clear that the rumoured ‘closed doors’ to young people entering the arts are very much imaginary and events like TheatreCraft are making it easier to access, one step at a time.
After more London theatre loveliness? Check out my latest blog on the longest running theatre show in the world here. Or my top things to do in London for under £50 here. And be sure to check by soon for more adventures.