Joshua Howes

Stage Manager for Brontë

Joshua Howes is a final year Stage Management student at Birmingham City University and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. His final project entails acting as stage manager for a performance of Brontë. 

Stage Management - BA (Hons)

Tell us about your journey studying at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and Birmingham City University

As a third-year Stage Management student at RBC, my journey has been a rewarding and fulfilling one. When I first enrolled I had a very basic understanding of the industry I was going into. The first year of the course was extremely helpful when it came to this as it teaches all students the basics of backstage theatre working.  As we progressed and were all on a more equal level of ability, I found that we all grew much closer together as friends. The shared experiences of the course brought us together and allowed us to work together more easily and also go out to other university events. This not only made the work more enjoyable but also allowed us to build lasting friendships and a sense of community within the course.  

There were times on the course when my methods of working were just not obtaining the intended result or I was not keeping up with the workload, this is where the support from the staff in the whole department was invaluable. No matter if it was a problem with my physical work or communication with other members of the Production Team, the lecturers always had a solution or a way to work through what happened and helped me develop a range of my skills that will no doubt be extremely useful in the future. The staff at RBC have also encouraged any external projects I have worked on while attending RBC and have always been there to offer further support or resources they have available.  

One of the most valuable experiences I've had at RBC was the opportunity to work alongside professional theatre technicians, who were hired by the university for various productions. This gave me the chance to observe their techniques and gain insights into the work of a theatre technician. Not only did this enhance my technical skills, but it also gave me the chance to network and form connections with these freelancers. As a result, I have been offered several freelance jobs by these professionals based on the work I did with them on the university productions. This has not only provided me with valuable experience but has also given me a head start in building my career in the theatre industry. 

What is your final project?

My final project entails working as Stage Manager on one of the final year shows. This production is called Brontë and is based on the life and works of the Brontë sisters and is about their struggles as women writers in a male-dominated society. This production is performed by the MA Acting Course and is crewed by Stage Management students. It is going to be performed at the Crescent Theatre in the Ron Barber Studio on 8 - 10 June.

How has your course helped you to prepare for your final project?

I have received extensive training and hands-on experience in the practical aspects of managing a theatrical production, all the way from making props to coordinating with all the different departments within the university. The resources provided to me by the course and the lecturers have helped me develop my skills and knowledge in preparation for this final production and the staff are with me throughout this final term still offering advice and support whenever I need it. Furthermore, all the experiences I have had throughout my time on the course has allowed me to develop my own ways of working so I am able to shape the running of this production in a way that I can work safely and efficiently.

What are your future aspirations?

I hope to use the connections I have found and previously worked with, to find work all around the country until I can develop my skills even further to move onto larger scale productions and then potentially tour around the UK and Internationally with a production as part of the Stage Management Team.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

No matter if you have no experience at all or have been working in the industry already, this course allows you to develop your skills and ability to work as a professional in any area of entertainment you find yourself in. It is also a way to meet people who are interested in the same things that you are and helps make some long-lasting friendships.