As part of its dedicated education programme, Kiln Theatre recently launched its brand-new Production Arts Course – which has been supported by White Light.
The Production Arts Course was spearheaded by Kiln Theatre’s Creative Learning Technical Stage Manager Alix Rainsby. She explains: “At Kiln Theatre we wanted to run a course in order to diversify backstage roles. The backstage course would be for those new to the industry, aged 16-25. We have been working with Mountview and at the end of the course one student will be offered a bursary for a FdA Production Arts course there as well as having some of their living costs covered. This course would not only help find our potential student but mean that we would also be introducing ten other people into the world of technical theatre”.
Alix’s role was to recruit, co-ordinate and deliver the course. She explains: “The course is there to give an opportunity to those who are currently underrepresented backstage and may not have access to studying Production Arts for free. By introducing these young people to backstage theatre, we wanted to offer a taster of a variety of roles and ultimately show the many viable career options they could take”.
Once it was decided that the course was going ahead, Alix contacted WL’s Managing Director Bryan Raven to see if the company would be able to offer its support. She explains: “I was originally introduced to Bryan through one of our Production Technicians that works here at Kiln Theatre. Bryan told me how WL is committed to providing support to young people wanting to work in technical theatre so he seemed like the ideal person to contact for this course”.
WL’s Managing Director Bryan Raven comments: “As a company, we’ve tried our hardest to get ‘the next generation’ involved and remove as many barriers as possible. Already this year we’ve been awarded the Creative & Cultural Skills Employer of the Year and have been shortlisted for the Merton Business Awards Apprentice of the Year. Whereas a lot of organisations talk about the need for change, we actually want to make this happen. Therefore, when Alix got in touch, we were quick to offer as much support as we could”.
As part of the course, WL hosted a tour of its offices and warehouse for the young people as well as a presentation from Bryan about the company. WL also offered the group lighting and sound workshops and gave each of them hands on practical experience with industry standard equipment. Alix comments: “WL has genuinely been incredibly supportive and its passionate staff gave brilliant workshops that really sparked a lot of interest. Similarly, as WL offers an apprenticeship, this was yet another great opportunity that we were able to encourage the group to pursue”.
Similar to WL, Kiln Theatre wants to play an active role in diversifying backstage roles and offer as many opportunities to young people as possible. With programmes such as this, along with Stage Sight (which WL has signed up to), it is hoped that it will result in long-lasting change for the industry.
Alix comments: “From this initial course alone, we are already starting to some changes. The 11 students who took part have all completed the course, which we called ‘Act One Beginners’. During this time, they all saw a wide range of London theatre for free (completely removing any financial barriers) and took part in workshops in lighting, sound and stage management. This month we have three students going to work as Technical Interns or Front Of House at Sweet Venues, Edinburgh Fringe as a result of the course. Several have shown interest in applying for the Mountview bursary along with the WL apprenticeship scheme. Ultimately, with WL’s assistance, we were able to introduce a group of young people to a world they knew very little about – yet a world which may now play a big part in their lives”.
Bryan concludes: “We were absolutely delighted to have contributed to Kiln’s Production Arts Project. Giving the participants access to our world and bringing them down to WL was a privilege and it’s important that we continue to show young people, regardless of their background, that this is an industry for them and that it is open to everyone”.