It seems very strange to be reflecting on my time interning with ATC, sitting over 100 miles away from the offices in my parent’s garden, unsure of when I’ll get to see the team again. And while my time with ATC came to a disappointingly abrupt halt in the ‘real world’, I have had the opportunity to keep connecting with everyone virtually through zoom and email. While we all agree this is no replacement for working together, I’ve been able to see first hand the considerate and kind way the company has handled the crisis.
I’ve completed this placement as part of my MA in Creative Producing at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and feel like I am able to go back to my course after completing this internship with a new perspective on the role of the producer. In order to succeed as a producer it was vital that I spent time in a working production office in order to see how the skills I have developed during my course worked in an industry where the unexpected must always be expected! Something that is true in today’s climate more than ever.
I chose to intern with ATC for two main reasons. Firstly, I was interested in how the company worked as a regional touring company as I’ve found that lots of training in producing theatre is quite London centric, or it's assumed that the same marketing or outreach policies that work for theatre in London will be equally as successful in other parts of the country. I’m from Bristol and hope to return to work in the theatre industry there at some point in the future so I was keen to learn how ATC negotiates their relationship with different cities. Through conversations with Executive Director Andrew Smaje, I have learned how the relationships between touring companies and regional theatres require careful nurturing, and how these relationships are maintained through extensive conversations with a theatre’s marketing team, listening and learning from the people who call the city home, and remember that every city’s identity is unique and should be treated as such.
Secondly, I was excited by ATC’s commitment to give voice to the ‘other’ under Matthew Xia’s new Artistic Leadership. As part of my practice as a producer, it is important to me to remain committed to giving voice and artistic platform to marginalised or under-represented communities, and Matthew’s commitment to championing diversity in this way drew me to the company. Throughout my internship, Matthew taught me the importance of careful and detailed research so that every project is entered into from a position of willingness to learn rather than assumption of a community you don’t belong to. As part of this I helped create research packs for upcoming projects to use in rehearsals.
The role of an intern is varied, full of opportunity and chances to learn, but it is a role that requires you to be proactive in order to get the most out of your experience. While traditional intern jobs are to be expected, from providing administrative support to General Manager Jess O’Connor, to making cups of tea, I was also able to sit in on lots of exciting meetings with a commissioned writer, read scripts and have my opinions valued and challenged. I particularly enjoyed being able to visit rehearsals for Amsterdam, where I was given the role of taking rehearsal pictures to be used for marketing purposes on social media. This was really exciting as it gave me insight into how the rehearsal process works and how a production is created to a level that is ready to tour in such a small period of time. Meeting and getting to know the actors and other members of the creative team helped me conceptualise the collaborative nature of theatre and made me feel part of the team.
I’ve loved my time at ATC and really appreciate all the support and mentorship that everyone in the office has offered me. The office is small which when I was there, allowed me to be involved with every conversation and meeting, meaning I was able to get an insight into every part of the production process. Looking forward, I know that I will take the skills I have gained during my time at ATC with me in my career as a theatre producer and as a result will be more knowledgeable and ethical in my practice.