January is almost over! I hope your New Years New You plans are going swimmingly, and you’re sticking to around about 20% of your resolutions. 20% seems like a reasonable amount, right? I have LOVED doing my Motivation Month Q&As – learning how people have turned their hobbies into their careers and are working their dream jobs has been extremely inspirational – and I want to thank everyone who has got involved!
I am drawing my series to a close with one final Q&A. Please welcome Allie – a young lady who left a temping job that was making her miserable to work in THEATRE as a Stage Manager! Here she is to tell us how she did it – let the show begin!
First things first, what’s this hobby that you have and how/when did it start?
I’ve been doing bits of theatre since day dot, from youth theatre as a kid to helping my mum backstage at our local community theatre. Life happened and there was less time to commit and being a teenager came with a crisis of confidence.
Fast forward to being a grown up and while doing an dreadful temp job I decided to audition to do a part time acting diploma, the idea being I would find out what the process was like and then do it probably the next year. But I got in! So off I went off to drama school in the evenings, which was without a doubt the best thing I’ve ever done. I realised once the year long course came to an end that acting wasn’t my bag, I loved being in the studio and studying but being behind the scenes was what I was destined for.
And when was it – or what was it – that made you decide you wanted to make it a source of income?
It was being at drama school that helped me gain contacts to get back into the wings and start getting work and importantly the confidence. Luckily a lot of my friends are actors or writers, what they needed was a Stage Manager and technical know-all. I did a year of small budget, no pay work before I took the leap to tackle the theatre world full time.
It was my manager in yet another awful office job that gave me the push. I was a rubbish PA and far too creative for the stuffy office environment I was in. He quite frankly asked me to resign and I thought why fight it and promptly put my resignation letter on his desk! It was the kick in the right direction I needed.
Good for you! So how did you go about doing it?
Working in theatre is so much about who you know. It took me getting one job helping out some friends to be put forward for the next by an actor and so on. It’s often about being able to jump in at the last minute or commit for a solid few weeks and you just have to be prepared to drop everything! I’ve been incredibly lucky to have managed to get work almost continuously and bridge the gap from hobby to career.
What set backs did you face (if any?!) and what did you do to overcome them?
I had never really done any technical theatre until I went in and got plonked in front of a lighting desk. You just have to have a lot of balls to say ‘Yes’ and then panic Google lighting desk manuals. It’s not the best method but it’s helped when something goes wrong I can think on my feet and approach challenges in a different way than if I’d studied.
Do you feel you have made a success of it?
Success is so ambiguous when it comes to theatre. Do you measure success in whether it’s working on a West End show or with a well known producer or by the pay. I suppose for me I look at my success by how far I’ve come. This time last year I was doing a horrible office job, I was depressed and had no drive. Now I’m getting paid to do what I love, and I’m doing it with a (very sleepy!) smile on my face.
Of course I’ve made mistakes and look back at where I’ve gone wrong on certain jobs. But I wouldn’t say I regret any of it, because if I hadn’t made those mistakes or got it wrong I wouldn’t have learnt from it and it wouldn’t have got me to where I am.
Now, can you give me some words of motivational wisdom please!
Life is too short to go to work miserable to earn money to drink it away in the pub trying to forget about your problems. You only get one chance so go out and grab those opportunities with both hands. It is scary, it isn’t easy and it takes hard work. But taking those risks and pursuing a dream is the most important thing you can do!
I completely agree! Thank you so much for taking part, Allie!
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