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27th September 2015

How you can get involved with Manchester’s theatres

How to get involved and gain invaluable experience in your chosen theatre field within some of the most popular theatres in Manchester

Many of you reading this article might want to work within the theatre industry one day. Some of you might be wondering how to go about getting vital work experience or how to approach working in a particular field. With an abundance of university societies advertising hands-on experience, here’s how you can get involved inside Manchester’s theatres.

Contact Theatre is leaps and bounds ahead of its neighbouring theatres in regard to enticing younger audiences and participants. Encouraging minority groups to get involved is something the company particularly champion.

This week Contact Theatre is holding two taster music workshops specifically aimed at women aged 13 – 25. The workshops, running on the 28th and 29th, take place in Contact’s recording studio and will focus on participant confidence, music production techniques, and will provide an introduction to skills such as producing and recording. Regardless of ability and experience, these sessions are open to everyone in the age bracket, and they are completely cost-free. Just make sure you book.

Contact also offers ‘Young Identity’ workshops. Young Identity is Manchester’s young writers’ collective, which started off in Moss Side in 2006. This community-based writing project specifically for young people performs locally, nationally, and internationally. 
The first project is ‘Young Identity at 6’, which is a weekly creative writing workshop run on a Tuesday, seeking to aid new, budding writers in the development of their craft and performance skills. It is encouraged that you attend these as an introduction to the Young Identity Project. 
The Young Identity workshops operated at Contact gravitate towards poetry and spoken word workshops, which are suitable for 13 – 25 year olds. These workshops are free.

Whether your interests lie in art, film or theatre, HOME offers a ‘Young Creatives’ scheme, open to anyone aged 15 – 25. Every year the group puts on a series of workshops and projects—which are again completely free—as well as commissioning countless opportunities that are led by industry professionals. With a multitude of events and opportunities lying in exhibitions, cinema, theatre and festivals, HOME could be giving you the perfect leg up into your creative career.

Finally, the Royal Exchange Theatre offers a variety of ways to get involved. The theatre advertises opportunities to get behind-the-scenes experience, to be a part of community projects, as well as professional development and training opportunities.

‘Discover Young People’ have plenty to offer. For example, ‘Young Company’ is the resident company for anyone aged 14 – 21. Each year, 130 people join theatre staff in the hope of developing their skills in their chosen area. 
Similar to this is the ‘Truth About Youth’, which is the Royal Exchange Theatre’s programme made in partnership with the Co-operative Foundation, which is designed to challenge the negative connotations attached to people aged 14 – 21.

If you’d prefer experience behind the curtain, the theatre also offers a programme specifically-designed to appeal to wannabe theatre makers. The ‘Young Leaders’ programme is a training and development scheme for aspiring producers and event managers aged 16 – 25. Each year, the theatre recruits 12 young leaders to work with the theatre themselves, giving you, if you are selected, guaranteed sought-after experience.

The theatre has really got all bases covered. For example, if English is not your first language, the ‘World Wide Workshop’ is a project aimed at adults in order to motivate individuals to meet new people who share an interest in theatre, whilst developing their English skills. On top of all of this, the Royal Exchange openly welcomes queries regarding work experience, training, and volunteering.

Concerning awards, the Royal Exchange’s ‘Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting’ is one of the most popular, with the competition being inundated with over 7,000 entries. This biennial playwriting competition is open to anyone who has written a play and who lives in the UK. The competition was inspired by bilateral ambitions: “to encourage and uncover new writing, and to build a national platform for exciting new talent.”

Since it began in 2005, the prize has grown into a nationally-recognised competition. With 15 prize-winners and £160,000 of prize money, it is clear why it has become the largest playwriting competition in the UK. The anonymous nature of the competition means that submissions are judged solely on their content. Winning plays have gone on to be staged not only at the Royal Exchange but at the Lyric Hammersmith and Soho Theatre with past judges including Michael Sheen and Maxine Peake.

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