Learning on the Job: Alternative Training for Artists

Stan Hodgson, 11 July 2012

Who attended the session: Stan, Becci, Jenny, Selina.

My session resulted from where I am at this point in my life: a 20 year old actor/director staring into the abyss that is “The Real World”. I recently finished a Foundation year at LAMDA and am left with figuring out what to do next.

I hugely enjoyed my year's training and found it an incredibly valuable experience but in this industry as diverse as it is tempermental, is Drama School Training/University degree the best way of forging a career?

Becci shared the first piece of advice that she received before becoming a producer:

“If it's what you want to do, do it”. Basically, if it's your ambition and your passion, then why not create the opportunities for yourself to make it happen. I am the director of the

Theatre Company “Windermere Productiopns” based in Darlington and over the five years we've been together I've been involved in all aspects of production. I have, like the guys I was speaking with, gained so much from simply ‘doing it’.

But it's not as simple as that. Windermere Productions relied heavily on subsidised funding given in 2008. That money, after being stretched to its absolute capacity (which included rehearsals in our kitchen!), has finally evaporated. Selina is looking to develop her own performance piece as opposed to studying a Masters, about our relationship to Fat, in Bradford. However, she is constantly applying for funding, and as for earning a living it's a tall ask.

Jenny, as Co-Founder of the GIFT Festival, provides opportunities to student companies to work alongside professional actors. But these opportunities are unpaid, and Jenny herself has to juggle three jobs just to keep GIFT going.

But then we found something regarding training on the job that we all agreed on: there is value to be had beyond money. The people you meet, the places you see, the inner workings of theatre that you learn, even your own development as a person. These aspects of the profession are so important and perhaps, when put in the context of a working environment, realised more sharply.

Especially in these times of University fees making the news for the wrong reasons, and increasing instability in what was an already ‘rickety’ career, maybe its time that emerging artists take it upon themselves to create work and opportunities in a professional envrionment. And learn from these experiences. There's no point having a moan about lack of funding, but perhaps the funding that is available can be put into these ‘professional-development’ projects. At least it saves on student loans!


Theatre, North East, Windermere Productions, Training, GIFT, young people, Funding, funding, training, Young People, theatre