Internship’s The Thing

November 4, 2009

Trends come and go. In everything, there is a trend. So, perhaps unsurprisingly trends are readily coming and going within the theatre world, and none more prolific than that of internships. There appears to be a steadily growing number of internships around theatre and the arts popping up each month, and it looks set to stay.

Whilst theatre internships are a great way for participants to get hands on experience within a certain role in theatre, it is gradually getting more alarming by how many internships are currently being advertised for. A few years ago internships were hard to come by, and now, it would appear even the smallest of companies are offering them.

The question is then, does the value of an internship drop because of the vast amount of internships which are available out there? Much like how there has been steadily growning talk how the number of school leavers taking up university places are causing the affect of a degree to mean less, and now a masters is the thing to have, or rather, the thing to get you anywhere.

When applying for a job after doing an internship, do you get any points for being slightly higher up than others because you have done an internship with a company? I’m not quite so sure that this is the case anymore… where every small to large company is offering an internship, it has to surely affect the number of people applying for jobs in the arts. If the majority of people are doing internships, then the majority of people will have them, so does it actually get you anywhere?!

Of course there will be varying degrees of arguments over this opening of theatre internships across a wide sector, yet it seems clear that the main reason behind this has to be money. What with the United Kingdom still struggling to get out of our recession, and employment figures dancing around a rock bottom low, securing jobs in any industry is proving hard. So how does a company get extra support, and fulfill certain demands within their work, without having to add a x amount of salary to the table… the answer, an internship.

Internships are not paid, however often a company will pay for travel expenses or lunch – or indeed, sometimes nothing. The participant of the internship will be assisting a certain department or person within the company, and effectively will be an extra pair of hands to help out – a pair of hands that doesn’t cost thousands of pounds each year.

I might be making it out that the thought of internships are a bad thing, and that companies are cashing in on voluntary work, but this is of course not true. Internships are a great way for someone to get a step up into an industry that they are interested in working in. It gives them experience professionally and also connects them to industry professionals. So, it works in everyone’s favour. Or does it?

A quick look at an arts jobs site such as ArtsJobs.org.uk and you can see the extent of the amount of internships available. Last week alone saw a total of 14 internships for London alone being advertised. This is an astronomical figure, as each of these internships means one less of a paid job. Does this mean that the jobs that are becoming available are being swamped by applicants? Yes. Often a simple box office or admin role within the theatre being advertised will gain 300 plus applicants, a figure which is a certain sign of the times.

Whilst theatre internships offer great work experience the impact that it is having upon the jobs sector is becoming more clear, only time will tell how much so.

Thinking of doing an internship? Then check out A Younger Theatres Guide to Internships


Save our theatre! (From the older generations)

August 14, 2009

The title of this post is pretty bold, but I feel under the circumstances there is every right to be bold, and brash. The theatre of the future, of even today needs to be saved from the middle classes. So why do I feel the need to state this? It boils down to the recent events that have occured in relation to several news papers (The Sunday Times, The Telegraph and The Mail) running articles on West End Theatres hiring Bouncers and Security to deal with the ongoing issues of ‘yobbish behaviour’ seen in the audiences.

This happens, and I myself having worked in a West End Theatre have witnessed what some audiences members are like after a little bit to drink and a swinging musical. At the theatre I worked at they have full time members of door security who regularly dealt with members of the general public who were upsetting other audiences members. This was most notable when audiences had been out drinking beforehand and believe they are going to witness a rock concert (it was We Will Rock You after all) The fact that it is a growing issue is where the problem lies.

I’m all for kicking out rude, loud, uncivilised and general audience members who can not comply to the rules of theatre etiquette, (yes there is an etiquette which should be held to: the general rule being shut up and watch), but these articles or rather the comments are digging much deeper that the face value of theatre etiquette and audiences.

Since I began writing this article the Daily Mail website has actually removed all the comments that were actually on their article here, which was driving my thoughts upon this blog. However lucky for me Sans Taste have the comment in full from one of the Daily Mail readers where ‘Sue’ states:

“This is what happens when tickets are given away to under 25s. They have no social skills at all. They are vulgar and have no culture at all. It is a complete waste of money. It should have been given to families with an increase in culture but cannot afford the tickets. Or it could have been given to pensioners who likewise are unable to afford tickets. The under 25s are an abomination and a disgrace to our society.”

I’d like to thank Sue for her charming words on the current state of a whole generation of under 25’s and the state in which we are bringing down the theatre industry with ‘no social skills at all’. Of course this is a strong reaction from some middle-aged woman who has unfortunately been scarred for life by the terrible disgrace that the younger generation brings to the theatre.

My reaction is simple: It is people like this that should be barred from theatre’s altogether. The act of going to the theatre is a social event, and whilst I agree that there is an ‘etiquette’ as I spoke about before to going to the theatre, that doesn’t mean that we should stop a whole age range of people from attending. I feel outraged that someone could be so narrow minded in regards to audiences and the arts.

As a 21 year old, who adores the theatre, spends his life involved in theatre, and attempts to pick up apart details of theatrical events and understandings of theatre – I implore the older generations to stop this narrow minded approach to audience and ages. Theatre changes, as does the audience, but there is nothing wrong with getting younger generations into the theatre, in fact, it boosts culture, education and even ticket sales by allowing more younger people to enjoy the spectacle of theatre.

Theatre has for years been an elitist event, and it is about time that ticket prices dropped, allowing more families, younger generations, and even the older generations to enjoy theatre. Schemes like A Night Less Ordinary have allowed for under 25s to finally afford to go to the theatres, and see and witness the buzz of culture that is thriving not only in London but all over the country.

Of course there is going to be criticism from those that are left out of the scheme, but that doesn’t take away from the opportunties that this is bringing to those that would have never experienced theatre because of the inflation of ticket prices (the West End in my opinion is shocking for selling tickets at £50+ – limiting its market audiences to those that can afford these over priced tickets. Theatre is meant to be accessible to everyone!)

So just because I am classed as under 25, that doesn’t make me ‘vulgar’ with ‘no culture’ – in fact I’m embracing all culture of the theatre as much as possible and loving it. If people are so concerned with the introduction of younger generations into the theatre then my advice is simple: Stop going to the theatre altogether and intead write hate letters into national newspapers complaining of the lack of standards in theatre audiences, and how all under 25 year olds are an abomination and a disgrace to our society because those who are so blatantly offensive and discrimitive towards younger audience members are obviously not a disgrace to our society, but just born into a generation that doesn’t understand the changes within our society, and most certainly not within the theatre.

Articles mentioned can be found at the following places:
The Times
The Daily Mail
The Telegraph

With original stimulus from Sans Taste