Final Year BA (Hons) Stage Management student Lauren Wood takes us through her industry placement experience and explains how it can help her in the future.
Where did you complete your work placement?
I completed a placement at the Birmingham Hippodrome and also at The Rep theatre in Birmingham. I worked on the preparation for the Billy Elliot press night at the Hippodrome and at The Rep, I worked on the production, “To Sir, With Love”
How did you secure your placement?
After a few months of looking for a variation of different placements, I ended up finding myself working as a Deputy Stage Manager in my first professional Christmas show. I was working with Tread The Boards Theatre Company on the show “A Christmas Carol” By this point I was beginning to run out of time, and so turned to my peers for help. Luckily Faith Whenham (Birmingham Hippodrome) and Sara Crathorne (The Rep) were on hand to help.
What kind of things did you get involved with on your placement?
During my time at the Hippodrome, I was able to shadow those who work within the Creative team. I worked alongside the technical department, casual crew members, administration and marketing. The creative team and I were preparing for the Billy Elliott press night, the Hippodrome are passionate about making their press nights a night to remember and so they are bigger and better than ever before! I also had the opportunity to work as the Stage Manager for the Dance Festival ‘Sampled’ which was spread across 4 floors of the Hippodrome, Front Of House. Whilst working at The Rep, I was able to work alongside the production team for ‘To Sir, With Love’, as the Assistant Stage Manager. Throughout the four weeks I was able to make a whole range of props, including paper props, pillow cases, netball bibs, and much more! I was on hand to help with other shows such as ‘Winnie and Wilbur’ as they needed an extra pair of hands and I even had the chance to cover the Deputy Stage Manager in rehearsals for ‘To Sir, With Love’.
Has your placement helped you with your course?
During my placements I was able to put all the skills I had learned throughout the 3 years into practise and it truly taught me how much I had learned and how much I have grown as a Stage Manager. The placement boosted my confidence for the last few months of my course and certainly for future jobs.
Do you now have a better idea of what you’d like to do after your degree?
I have been able to work with a variety of different departments within the theatres, which has opened my eyes to the path I would like to take in the future. Though I enjoy taking the role of Deputy Stage Manager and Stage Manager, I would also like to pursue the creative side of theatre.
What is the best piece of advice you took from your placement?
Always take every opportunity you can to network, you never know who you are going to meet or who you will be working with next. Help those around you and show everyone you mean business!
What advice do you have for other students thinking about their placements?
Make sure your placement is something you really feel passionate about. You only get out what you put in and the harder you work, the more opportunities will come your way. As soon as you’re on your placement you’re networking, so ensure you are in a place that can lead you to where you want be next.
Did you make any good industry links that could help you with your career?
I am now a casual technician at the Birmingham Hippodrome and have made very strong links with people in different departments. I have also been asked to come back in the summer to help with their summer season. Additionally, I have made links with The Rep theatre and a number of their freelancers.