It may seem a bit odd at first that someone like me, who is currently completing an MA in Screen Studies and who comes from a literature background, decided to do their work placement within an arts organisation, specifically a theatre company. However, even though there were only two students from the Screen Studies MA interested in doing a placement there was only one placement on offer that was specifically tailed for a Screen Studies student. Unfortunately neither of was particularly interested in this placement which left us no choice but to go with one of the drama placements on offer. But do not be fooled, regardless of what academic background I come from and that picking a drama placement seemed like a compromise, I take great interest in theatre and gained valuable insight and understanding of how a small touring theatre company is run, what kind of engaging work 20 Stories High creates and especially how their productions come to life.
20 Stories High is committed to produce theatre with and for young people and to reach a wide variety of people from different social and economical backgrounds. Their aim is it to work and engage with young people from excluded communities from the Liverpool area and in order to achieve this they offer different participation programmes, including a Youth Theatre group and a Young Actors Company. Both groups put on an annual show during the summer. I was lucky enough to be able to attend one of the Youth Theatre group meetings during my time at the organisation and it was fascinating and interesting to see how Julia (one of the co-artistic directors at 20 Stories High) and Leanne (the participation manager at 20SH) motivated and engaged the young people to develop and work on the dialogue for their individual scenes for the upcoming show in July.
My role at the organisation included various tasks in different areas of the company from management duties, to administration, to conducting research for future productions. I attended company team meetings, proof-read grant proposals, worked on a touring budget for a future show, did research into how other touring theatre companies handle fundraising, created a groups contact directory in collaboration with 20 Stories High’s administrator Nicole, I of course also attended their most recent production “Black”, filed documents, drafted contracts, wrote invoices, conducted research into arts trusts and foundations as well as, a bit more unusual perhaps, into abortion (which will be the broader topic of a future production).., to name but a few of my tasks during the placement.
After getting to know 20 Stories High so well over the past five months I sincerely hope they are able to keep securing funding for the excellent work they do not only for the young people they work with but ultimately for every single person who gets to see and experience their productions and who may just be inspired to challenge their own views and opinions on today’s world.