Upon arriving on the doorstep of a cottage-styled building in January, I wondered what sort of encounters I would have in this seemingly quaint office. I had never worked anywhere other than my hometown, Hong Kong, and was only armed with the knowledge of what was on Women & Theatre’s website. Little did I know that I landed a 10 day internship in a powerhouse of community theatre.
I found this internship through my school’s, the University of Birmingham, Careers’ Network. I applied because I wanted to learn about the inner workings of an arts company in this country, being a Drama and English student. My duties at Women & Theatre were mainly administrative and research focused. I was able to research areas of Birmingham that the company has yet to work in, as well as possible grants the company could apply to for funding.
The two most exciting duties I had were sitting in on Word Lounge meetings and researching the Women of Longbridge project. Being a fly on the wall and understanding how the company dealt with the logistics of creating an acting scheme for young people was incredibly refreshing and informative. I was impressed at how well the team would solve problems and present their ideas to partner organisations. This was an aspect of the industry that I had never seen before. For WoL, I was able to travel to different areas in Birmingham with the team and meet people who worked, lived or regularly met in the area to collect stories for the final product. It was an exciting experience as I had never been to these places and we would never know what to expect. Fortunately, we had mostly pleasant surprises, such as a story about the Peaky Blinders and a tea dance gathering where many elderly couples gathered, sure to be full of tales about the area.
My time at Women & Theatre was extremely valuable as a newcomer to the arts industry. It not only fulfilled my goals of understanding the nuts and bolts of a theatre company but taught me the values required to run one — an immense amount of resilience, genuine passion for projects and an open mind to work with a colourful variety of people.