I first found out about NYT through my sister who did the NYT costume course, she came home and said there was this thing called stage management and I think you’d be really good at it. The next year I applied for the stage management course, got on, and had the most amazing summer.
I learnt so much, not even just about theatre but about working with people – we messed around and had fun, but also produced a really great show at the end of it. I’d applied for the course just because I though it’d be really fun, but by the end of my summer with NYT I started thinking that stage management was something I wanted to do professionally.
One of the great things about NYT’s backstage courses is that they pick up on people who want to go on to work professionally, and offer you opportunities to do so. At the end of year twelve, when I was looking for vocational theatre courses, or apprenticeships I could do, I got in touch with NYT to ask if there was anything I could get involved with, and they suggested I should Deputy Stage Manage NYT's REP Company Season in the West End. I then spent seven months working as a DSM on four shows with NYT.
It was such a great experience; I made lots of mistakes but I was so grateful for making those mistakes as I learnt from each and every one of them. Looking back it’s hilarious that I was given so much responsibility when I didn’t really know what I was doing, but that’s the great thing about NYT - it’s a really safe place in which to learn and develop. After doing a few more projects with NYT, I got some work experience with the Royal Court and then worked on a fringe show which transferred to the West End and I’ve been working ever since!
Now, I’ve just finished working at The Old Vic on A Christmas Carol, and before that I was working as a rehearsal ASM on Follies at the National Theatre, which was amazing for so many reasons, not least because I’m a huge Stephen Sodenheim fan!
I’ve been very lucky, but I also think if you’re very eager and enthusiastic then it makes such a difference, as people are more willing to teach you. There can be a lot of arrogance in this industry, so it’s refreshing for people to hear you admit ‘I don’t know everything’ because learning is such an important stage of any career.
Working with NYT set me up really well professionally. When I worked on the REP season, it wasn’t a case of “this is Oscar he’s doing a placement with us”, I was treated as a professional. NYT made me a hard worker, gave me a great work ethic, and taught me to be versatile.
Before I started NYT, I had absolutely no idea how much it takes to put a show together. It opened me up to a whole myriad of theatre, and how it works whether you’re interested in producing, working backstage, marketing, or something else entirely. If you’re just interested in theatre generally, you should do the backstage course because it’s an amazing networking opportunity. You’d be joining an amazing pool of people who work in all aspects of theatre who can help you out and offer you advice - it’s a great resource to have and I still call my NYT friends when I’m struggling, or have had a bad day at work.
The best thing about it – and it sounds like such a cliché – is the fact that it is such a family. There is always someone out there at NYT who will offer you a helping hand. I know people who have been in the industry years who will still ask fellow NYT members for advice, and I think that’s what’s really amazing about the organisation.
What’s also amazing is that had I not have done the backstage course, I’d probably have gone to university, and be £30,000 in debt by now. Drama school can be brilliant, but it can be out of reach for so many people, so it’s incredible that there is an organisation out there like NYT that is willing to support and nurture performers and backstage crew and is available to everyone!
Interviews for NYT's summer Backstage Courses are currently open! Find out more about our courses in Costume, Lighting, Sound, Scenic Construction and Stage Management here.