How can I sustain a career as a theatre maker in Devon?

Elizabeth Pennington, 1 September 2012

So this is always going to be a sporadic thought process so bear with me as I note what we chatted about and whilst lots of people have butterfly conversations around me.

So I use theatre maker as a broad term, and you can also replace this with artist; so far to sustain myself I have taken on a few hats within this aim-actor, devisor, director, producer, facilitator, teacher, community artist (not to mention all the non theatre jobs that pay the money). I have had to develop lots of strands to get myself enough work, but it was the feeling of the group that having many hats is a key way to sustain oneself in this field.

First you've got to get started, so volunteerting, networking, applying for funding, understanding whats availble to you in the area. No mean feet. Volunteering can be great at getting you meeting people and gaining more skills, but there does have to be a point when you should get paid for what you do, and you have to be equally strong at turning things down that don't have enough value. Then the meeting people, putting yourself out there, people finding you not very interesting or useful to them, but then some people will! It's having a thick skin. Not getting shot down at the first hurdle.

Another point was building your reputation, showing what you can do, building an audience or a following. This might be hard if you're wearing too many hats, as sometimes you may become boxed as one thing. Which leads to having some fight in you. You may have to challenge people that you are not selling them that your selling them this.

So to build a reputation you've got to be putting stuff on, so the relationships become important again. Who has space, who can help, who shares your vision. Thick skinned remember-just ask and persist. If it's important to you-persist.

So once you have a bit of a reputation, then start expanding your expectations. Lead the way, set the trends, make what you want to make.

Leading the way can also be noticing the gaps that would make it better for you to do things. Ie: could you start an evening to platform a group of artists? Starting projects you want to get made.

Ah thats lunch!


theatre, starting, local, career, sustain, Theatre