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Working In A Theatre


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#1 xXAngelofMusicXx

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 01:12 AM

I want to get a job in a theatre, i dont mind that it would probably be volunteer work, behind the scenes, as an usher, whatever. I think the experiance as id like to work in musical theatre when im older would be good for me. But im only 14 - is there any likeliness a theatre would take me? And if there is, how should i apply/convince them?

Thanks for the help smile.gif

#2 bananafrit

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 01:14 AM

Well I would get away with your signature for starters.... do you mean West End or Regional? Most West End won't employ Under18's by law.

#3 xXAngelofMusicXx

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 01:24 AM

QUOTE(bananafrit @ Aug 30 2007, 02:14 AM) View Post
Well I would get away with your signature for starters.... do you mean West End or Regional? Most West End won't employ Under18's by law.



West End as i live in the area...thats really depressing...is it worth still applying to see if anyone will take me?...

Oh and i'll change my signature, thanks smile.gif

#4 Matthew Winn

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 08:44 AM

QUOTE(xXAngelofMusicXx @ Aug 30 2007, 02:12 AM) View Post
I want to get a job in a theatre, [...] But im only 14 - is there any likeliness a theatre would take me?

Sorry, but at 14 there's essentially no chance a theatre will take you.

To start with, as far as employment law is concerned you are legally a child until the last Friday in June in the academic year of your 16th birthday. Until then there are strict regulations on what you can do, and one is that you may not work before 7.00 am or after 7.00 pm. (An exception is made for performers in theatre, but here a local authority performance licence is required.) You're also limited to 25 hours a week with no more than five hours on any one calendar day and no more than two hours on Sunday.

There's also the matter of health and safety responsibilities. Staff working front of house have to take responsibility for the safety of the customers while those working in backstage areas have their own safety responsibilities. Not to put too fine a point on it, I doubt any theatre is going to judge that you have the maturity or experience to handle the requirements of any such position, even without the legal issues.

If you want theatre experience your best bet is to try to get involved in amateur theatre in a non-performing capacity. Most people in amateur theatre want to perform, so many groups are crying out for people to sell programmes or assist with props, costumes and makeup. It won't bring you any money, but when you're old enough to start getting paid work as an adult you'll already have experience of working with the public or working as part of a team backstage, and that may be enough to give you the edge in an interview.

(Note that even in amateur theatre there are regulations. I've been involved with the operation of a children's theatre group in the past and we had to ensure there was one adult each side of the stage at all times, plus we all had to undergo police checks prior to working with children. However, amateur groups are more likely to be able to accommodate someone of your age in a way a West End theatre could never manage.)

Whatever happens, best of luck.
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#5 xXAngelofMusicXx

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 02:38 PM

QUOTE(Matthew Winn @ Aug 30 2007, 09:44 AM) View Post
Sorry, but at 14 there's essentially no chance a theatre will take you.

To start with, as far as employment law is concerned you are legally a child until the last Friday in June in the academic year of your 16th birthday. Until then there are strict regulations on what you can do, and one is that you may not work before 7.00 am or after 7.00 pm. (An exception is made for performers in theatre, but here a local authority performance licence is required.) You're also limited to 25 hours a week with no more than five hours on any one calendar day and no more than two hours on Sunday.

There's also the matter of health and safety responsibilities. Staff working front of house have to take responsibility for the safety of the customers while those working in backstage areas have their own safety responsibilities. Not to put too fine a point on it, I doubt any theatre is going to judge that you have the maturity or experience to handle the requirements of any such position, even without the legal issues.

If you want theatre experience your best bet is to try to get involved in amateur theatre in a non-performing capacity. Most people in amateur theatre want to perform, so many groups are crying out for people to sell programmes or assist with props, costumes and makeup. It won't bring you any money, but when you're old enough to start getting paid work as an adult you'll already have experience of working with the public or working as part of a team backstage, and that may be enough to give you the edge in an interview.

(Note that even in amateur theatre there are regulations. I've been involved with the operation of a children's theatre group in the past and we had to ensure there was one adult each side of the stage at all times, plus we all had to undergo police checks prior to working with children. However, amateur groups are more likely to be able to accommodate someone of your age in a way a West End theatre could never manage.)

Whatever happens, best of luck.


Thanks for all that information...i didnt know any of that...i guess i can apply to work somewhere other than a theatre then and will look for any amateur productions going on that i can work for

#6 David

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 05:00 PM

Even at 16 there is little to no chance you will be taken on. Most (if not all) regional theatres won't take on anyone under 18 as FOH staff, certainly not backstage. You might be able to do some voluntary work next Summer, perhaps FOH on an outdoor production (though probably not Regent's Park).

When you get to 4th year (erm... year 10?) you can apply to do your work experience in a theatre- I did, and it was very rewarding.

And as bananafrit said, get shot of the signature, won't do you any favours on here, or anywhere else I can think of!

Good luck.

#7 Orchestrator

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 09:32 PM

QUOTE(bananafrit @ Aug 30 2007, 02:14 AM) View Post
Well I would get away with your signature for starters.... do you mean West End or Regional? Most West End won't employ Under18's by law.

What law is that? Are there child protection issues? It seems a bit crazy that you can join the army at 16 but not work in a West End theatre for another two years (if I've got that right). Mind you, I can think of a few choreographers and directors who could give the stereotypical Sergeant-Major a run for his money.
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#8 Haz

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 08:10 AM

Most theatres work on a rotational system so people move between selling icecreams/working in the bar/ushering/selling programmes.. whatever. You can't sell alcohol until you're 18 so an under 18 would not be able to undertake all the necessary duties.

It may also be that the employers' liability insurances only cover staff over and above a certain age.
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#9 bananafrit

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 08:23 AM

It's also to do with the fact that you are there to work purely as an aide if there is an emergency or evacuation. All the programmes/showing to seats stuff is actually 2nd on the list of duties. Therefore you become responsible for the public.

#10 Scal

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 04:15 PM

Hello

You will be able to get work in a theatre at 16.  I know professional theatres who employ under 18's and which are very proud to be making themselves accessible.   In the meantime why not get in touch with theatres with a specific young people's policy.  There's always plenty of people who want to perform (which makes it very competitive) but far less who want to work backstage - either on the production, FOH, producer's side.  You could check out NYT (national Youth Theatre) or Hampstead or the Royal Court for starters.  Buy a copy of Contacts (you can get it in any good bookshop), look up London theatres and do some internet research about what they offer in their participatory or education departments.

I used to work at Contact in Manchester and we would regularly employ people who came through our participatory programmes.

Hope that helps.  Good luck with it all.




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