Hello! My name’s Livia and this July I was thrown head-on into the daunting world of ‘work’ by my school, Northgate. Now, at first, the thought of work experience for me was a mere time-waster, something that just got me out of school for a week – which I’m sure many other students thought. I wasn’t expecting much, just to have to wear some oversized work clothes and to go to an office for 5 days, a place where no one there would really want me and I’d be treated as a lower class – but how wrong could I of been. In all honesty, my mum told me about the company Eastern Angles and that it was a theatre company I could work at, where I’d do various different tasks each day with various different people. With my same mind-set of the uselessness of work experience, I agreed with not much thought.
It was now a week until work experience was going to all kick-off, and I started to wonder more about what my mum had REALLY signed me up for. She forwarded me the email that Alyson had sent her, which was a week plan of what I was going to do each day. Reading it made me extremely relieved, each day had something new, with someone new to do it with. I was, for the first time, looking forward to working for them! I’ve always loved change, and I knew I’d lose my mind working at a desk for 8 hours a day. As well as this, the dress-code was ‘smart/casual’ – I was really surprised by this, because even my friends who were just going to have to hand out paper leaflets all day had to wear stupidly smart clothes. It made no sense, and I don’t know if Eastern Angles realised – but letting me wear my own clothes, which I feel comfortable and happy in made the experience a whole lot nicer!
So, Monday came and I rocked up to Sir Johns Mills Theatre at an adequate time of 9:30am. Everyone welcomed me, which was extremely kind and the very first thing I did was join them all for a meeting with some of their board members to review previous shows and look ahead to forth coming productions and events. Though, to some students, they would have hated this as a first activity I was extremely happy that it was the first thing I was going to do with Eastern Angles.
Beforehand, Alyson briefed me on what they were going to talk about which made the whole meeting a lot more easy to understand – and she did warn me that I may be asked to ‘give my opinions’ (*dramatic sound effects*). To be fair, I didn’t think I’d have any, but the time came when they were talking about the designs of their posters and leaflets. I’m extremely interested in the marketing and design aspects of theatre, and I quickly realised that though they were talking about the posters and leaflets, none of them thought what the public would think when they glanced at them as they walked past the bus-stop, or at the toilet doors. I held up the leaflets and asked, ‘’what do you think this leaflet is about?’’ they replied that they already knew, so it was hard to say – which was exactly my point. Having poster and leaflet designs is all well and good, but getting outsiders opinions beforehand is extremely important to know what to change/improve or even keep the same when it comes to marketing.
This was definitely a highlight for my week, as shortly after this board meeting Alyson realised I didn’t really have an interest for the acting side of theatre, but more the marketing and designing aspects. She moulded my week to be around what I’m interested in, which I’m extremely grateful for. I had talks with Helena, the Marketing Officer, about their designs, I travelled to Norwich with Alyson to learn about the creative community in Suffolk and Norfolk, and even got to sit with Penny, their Stage Manager, behind shows to see how they control the lighting and sound effects. For me, there were really no challenges that I faced throughout the week – other than the social media aspects of it all, which I did find quite daunting.
This whole week was extremely eye-opening, and I honestly never thought work experience would have been like this. I would definitely recommend this place as a work experience for like-minded students, as I think Eastern Angles did a perfect job of the whole week! Another thing that I think they did well which was small but important, was treat me like an equal. I know this does sound slightly surprising, but at school you never really do get treated equally – especially with teachers and the such. Your opinions are less important than theirs a lot of the time, and I think that glimpse of my ideas being treated as important as anyone else’s, even if I am just a ‘teenager’ was extremely beneficial and simply, a really refreshing change to what students normally deal with. Because, though contradictory to popular belief, some teenagers do have useful ideas!