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International Women’s Day – Meet the team!

International Women’s Day – Meet the team!

10th March 2017

This week we celebrated just some of the amazing women who work at the New Vic to mark International Women’s Day.

Here’s a bumper blog of all who we interviewed…

 

Theresa Heskins
Artistic Director

What inspired you to work in theatre?
My family weren’t theatre goers, but my school took us – first to see Evita, then to see Macbeth.  I found the whole thing really exciting and special

What was your first job in the industry?
When I was 19 one of my teachers handed out leaflets inviting submissions to a playwriting competition.  I wrote a play, submitted it – and three months later I heard I’d won.  The play received a full production at the Royal Court; the playtext was published; the national press turned up for first night; it was all quite overwhelming.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The variety.  I get to spend time with both actors and people from the business world; travel round the country; learn about subjects as diverse as eighteenth century pirating or modern day ballroom dancing…

What would your advice be to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the arts?
Experience as much life as you can; get the best education you can; be prepared to graft, as a career in the arts is hard work (it’s part of our job to make it look easy); above all, enjoy it – it’s the best career in the world.

 

Fiona Wallace
Executive Director

What inspired you to work in theatre?
A school visit to see the RSC in Newcastle Upon Tyne.  School theatre visits are so important for children.

What was your first job in the industry?
I was Admin Assistant at Harrogate Theatre in the early 90s

What do you enjoy most about your role?
Working with the most talented people, with the biggest hearts.

What would your advice be to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the arts?
Being behind the scenes is just as good as being on stage.  There’s so many career paths into the industry – Don’t discount backstage jobs if you love theatre.

 

Jill Rezanno
Head of Education

What inspired you to work in theatre?
When I was little I was always acting out stories and pretending to be the characters, sometimes with other people but quite often on my own. Then when I was 16, I went to a theatre and suddenly everything made sense to me and I knew that I wanted to be part of that world. Telling and sharing stories is a natural human instinct, it helps us to understand ourselves and the world, and that’s something that I want to develop with as many people as possible.

What was your first job in the industry?
My first real job was as Community Arts Worker at an arts centre in Hampshire. I had a lot of freedom to create projects and make theatre with lots of different groups in the local area.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I’m lucky to work with the most talented and committed group of people at the New Vic, their ingenuity and imagination never ceases to amaze me. What I also love are the ideas that come out in workshops and rehearsals, ways of seeing the world that I would never have thought of, if I wasn’t with that group of people. I work a lot in schools and often young children will make the most brilliant observations, because they see the world in a very unique way and working through drama helps them to express this. I also work with a group called Ages and Stages, which is a company of older theatre makers. Their energy and enthusiasm is a great inspiration and their desire to make a difference to the community.

What would your advice be to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the arts?
Essentially art is about people and exploring what it is to be human, I would say never lose sight of that and be kind. You need to make good relationships with people, stay in touch with the colleagues you meet and encourage them to reach their potential. This generosity will often be returned and makes for a richer and more meaningful working life in what can be a very competitive world.

 

Susan Moffat
Director of New Vic Borderlines

What inspired you to work in theatre?
Like many people I wanted to do something that would make a difference in the world, whether that was to bring lightness and joy or tackle the real issues that made the world a sad and difficult place. I was lucky enough when I went to Keele Uni’ to live on Hartshill Road just up from the Victoria Theatre (the name of the New Vic before it moved into its present building) and I saw the musical documentary Miner Dig the Coal. I saw the power and dignity that theatre creates for ordinary people placing their lives and words centre stage and bringing in an audience of people who may not otherwise have thought theatre was for them to see their stories understood and validated. I recognised the power for theatre to engage and enthral and build empathy and transform. I realised that this was a world that I wanted to be a part of and a powerful chance to change the world in some small way for the better.

What was your first job in the industry?
I had worked professionally as a musician from the age of 16 including in the orchestra pit for musicals operas and ballets. After I worked as a freelance theatre practitioner and director on small issue based documentary pieces. My first exciting contracted role as part of a professional production team was as Musical Director on the Community Play ‘Go See Fanny Deakin’ a musical documentary written by Joyce Halliday with the community of Silverdale. It told the story of a truly inspirational woman who transformed the lives of working miners lads and men, and the lives of children and women, campaigning for free milk and achieving the opening of the Fanny Deakin Maternity Home in Chesterton. It was amazing with a huge community cast ranging in age from 5 – 84.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love the diversity of the work that being Director of New Vic Borderlines offers. One minute working with looked after young people in the New Vic workspace, then into a meeting with a Professor of Management. Working alongside fire-fighters, police officers, doctors and nurses at the sharp end of saving lives, through projects such as Message Not Delivered, to creating work raising awareness about forced marriage with a Detective Inspector who is bringing to justice those guilty of so-called Honour-Killings. It is humbling to hear the New Vic in this context described as ‘Saving Lives’  I love being part of a theatre that really places itself at the heart of the community and working alongside talented people who have the same creative  ambitions for the work developed by community members as they have for New Vic main house productions.

What would your advice be to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the arts? Work hard and make connections. Create work as often as you can. It does not matter if you have to work hard in other jobs to make ends meet, everything you do is adding to the pallet you will use as an artist. It is not about where you are working that places you in the arts it is about what is inside you.

 

Gemma Thomas
New Vic and Appetite Creative Producer

What inspired you to work in theatre and the arts?
Some of my earliest memories are of writing plays in my bedroom and directing my often reluctant cousins in productions for our parents. In high school, when we chose options, a group of friends and I chose to do Drama as a GCSE outside of the normal curriculum as it felt important to us to have the arts as a subject within our education. I loved the opportunity to create something new with friends, explore performance techniques and present those ideas to others in our class or audience.

I carried on with drama and theatre as part of college and managed to get a place at university to do the same. It was great to explore plays, approaches to creating theatre and also explore artistic cross-over which spiked my interest in the arts more generally. Looking back it was quite a big step for my family – I was the second or maybe third member of my extended family behind my auntie and older cousin to go to university at the time.

To answer the question though, I don’t have a big moment that changed my mind or forged my thinking, but more a series of experiences and interest in people and relationships and the way theatre-making and the arts can make some sense in that whilst being fun.

What was your first job in the industry?
Getting my first job in the industry wasn’t as simple and I had no-one to ask with experience in the industry. My dad used to joke that I was an “arty farty” but I was completely determined to do what I was interested in as a job. When I came home from university, I worked in other sectors: private commercial companies so after a number of years getting transferable skills and experience I still feel is relevant outside of the arts I took the plunge to self-fund an MA. The most useful thing about the MA was the permission to make connections in the sector, gain experience, research and delve deeper into my interests. Part of the course was an internship with an organisation to get experience. I worked with Fierce Earth, then managers of Fierce Festival and other projects and based in Birmingham. I loved it and felt at home in the sector, this small dynamic organisation was making amazing projects across art forms happen in theatres and nontraditional venues.

My first paid role came from a link I made at Fierce as a freelancer with the RSC, and allowed me to build experience and exciting portfolio of projects and organisations in the region.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
Four things I enjoy the most are all interlinked: I love the variety…no hour, day, week or project or production is ever the same and all that experience makes it exciting. I love the opportunity to think about problem solving creatively and looking at ways to create new ways of working. The partnership development opportunities that come from making theatre and the arts happen are endless, I love working with people to make extraordinary things happen in seemingly ordinary places to surprise each other and the people who experience it.

What I enjoy above all else is seeing the reactions of the people the work meets, hearing their thoughts and being a tiny part of thousands of memories.

What would your advice be to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the arts?
Be open to trying new things

Be focused, determined, but nice

Be interested in others

Be happy to learn and ready for change

Go for it!

 

Lis Evans
Head of Design

What inspired you to work in theatre?
I was taken to the theatre from a young age, so it was something I was very familiar with. I enjoyed studying literature at school. After doing a foundation course in Art & Design at Cardiff Art College, I was inspired by so many art forms, it seemed to me that on a Theatre Design course I would be able to continue with all sorts of different types of creativity, from drawing and sculpture, working in 2 and 3D, research projects, fashion and textiles, costume design including footwear and wigs, millinery, photography, interior design, furniture design, as well as performance and plays. All these aspects come into the work I still do, as well as working as a member of a creative team, and being set new and inspiring projects to work on every six weeks or so.

What was your first job in the industry?
My first professional job was designing the set and costumes for Circus Senso at Hackney Empire which opened on Boxing Day 1987.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
Being a part of an intense creative process on a live project which has a limited life.

What would your advice be to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the arts?
It’s very fulfilling and enjoyable, but requires enormous dedication. However I’d not choose a different career path if I was to start again.

Laura Clarkson
Head of Workshop

What inspired you to work in theatre?
I was about 12 years old and had gone to see The Phantom of the Opera with my mum in Manchester. I remember sitting there and watching the set transform instantly before my eyes so dramatically and hearing the audience gasp with excitement. As we left the theatre my mum says she remembers me turning to her and saying ‘mum, when I’m older that’s what I want to do’!

What was your first job in the industry?
I did a lot of freelance work while I was at university in order to learn the trade, from stage management on corporate events to decorating the Manchester Town Hall with themed rooms for the Lord Mayor’s Ball. I even did PA work on some filming shoots. All this gave me an understanding of all the areas of theatre and TV which helped me in my design work and prop making. Now, I would not expect anyone to do anything I would not be prepared to do myself. It gave me a real respect for all the different roles within this industry.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
Creating something out of nothing. Being given a brief and then creating a magical world, being given a block of foam and creating a dragon. Each day is a challenge and a surprise.

What would your advice be to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the arts?
Grab every opportunity and learn from it. I have been doing this job for 17 years now and I’m still learning but that is what makes it so exciting and different. Be patient, it takes time to get where you want to be but enjoy every minute of getting there.

 

Daniella Beattie
Chief Electrician and Resident Lighting Designer

What inspired you to work in theatre?
I really love stories, and making things.

What was your first job in the industry?
I joined the New Vic Theatre as Casual Technician

What do you enjoy most about your role?
Inventing new places, worlds with light, to tell stories, and make it all look sumptuous.

What would your advice be to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the arts?
Find the fun in whatever you do. If you’re having fun you will pass it on to others. Theatre is so much a team effort of communication with the audience; you all need to be pulling together for it to work.

 

Natalie Hainon and Tracey Booth
Assistant Stage Managers

Both have young families and have just returned to work to job-share the role of ASM which allows both to continue working in the industry they love.

What inspired you to work in theatre?
Natalie: I fell into stage management by accident!

Tracey: I loved going to theatre with my mum from an early age, I would come home all excited about the sets and costumes and insist on my mum making me an outfit like the one I had just seen onstage. They were such happy times and although I didn’t know what I wanted to do within the theatre world, I knew I had to be part of it somehow.

What was your first job in the industry?
Natalie: I originally wanted to train as an actor but after a couple of weeks realised I much preferred to be part of the theatre-making backstage. I worked as an Assistant Stage Manager in a few theatres in Manchester before coming to the New Vic four and a half years ago.

Tracey: My first job in the industry was Assistant Stage Manager on ‘Webmaster on Ice’ at Alton Towers in 2003

What do you enjoy most about your role?
Natalie: I love the most about my job is the unpredictability of the shows and wide range of jobs we do which range from show to show! One show I will be learning how to dress a coffin and the next I’ll be learning how to pick a lock! I am absolutely over the moon to be the first ever ASM to successfully be part of a flexible working job share with another young mum.

Tracey: I adore props! I love making them, finding them, the more difficult the better. I meet such a diverse mix of people from all walks of life that I learn something new every day.

What would your advice be to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the arts?
Natalie: Get as much experience as you can while you’re training and don’t rule out any job within the arts.

Tracey: I think getting to know everyone’s role within the theatre is so important, it takes everyone working together and respecting each other to get a show to opening night.