The Canberra Theatre Centre last week welcomed 10 students from across the region through the door for their first work experience program since 2019.
Previously, students would come individually for a week at the theatre, whereas this time around the program has been tweaked so a group of students would enjoy a shared experience on a week where the theatre was set to be abuzz with action.
“Depending on what was in the venue, it was either a brilliant week watching the theatre bump in … but they might also come when there’s no show in and it’s just cleaning or maintenance,” theatre program manager, discovery and learning, Annabel Scholes said.
Another benefit of bringing a group in is it allows networking between students who share a common interest in theatre in addition to their own specialised areas of interest.
“One of them may want to be a performer, another lights, another sound, and if the performer was working in a band and they needed someone to do sound and lights, they’ve already become friends,” Ms Scholes said.
Open to students in Year 10 or above, the 10 participants selected for the highly sought-after placement were chosen following an interview process. The Theatre hopes to get a total of 30 students through in three separate groups throughout 2021.
Over the course of the week, students got to experience a full backstage tour; talks and Q&As with various theatre staff; seeing touring production of Animal Farm bump in, rehearse and perform; and spent every afternoon working on a hands-on creative project that involved adapting the first chapter of 1984 into a mini-production.
The key lesson Ms Scholes hopes the students walk away with is the understanding that a career in theatre is “not a closed door”.
Year 11 student at Canberra College, Hamish Anderson, told Canberra Weekly his work experience placement has helped crystalise a career path for him.
“I have no idea what I want to do after school, but now I’m really looking into lighting and thinking about an electrical apprenticeship to get into that,” he said.
“I didn’t think about that a heap before now, but now it’s a genuine ‘I can do that’.”
During the week, Theatre technical director Rohan Cutler told students to contact him if they want a job and they’ll go on the casual list and have an opportunity.
“They’ll feel like they know some people they can ring up and say I’m really keen,” Ms Scholes said. “As long as you’ve got an attitude and are willing to work, we will teach you.
“How hard you work will determine whether you get a second and a third call back and work your way up the casual list.”
Anderson said he was excited when he heard about the casual work opportunities offered by the theatre; he’ll be keen to follow up on that once he’s done with school when he can “afford to spend some time taking any work casually that I can”.
Click here for more information on the Canberra Theatre work experience program.
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