GAME CHANGERS: 6 People Changing the Face of Theatre in the Midlands

We look at some of the people that are changing the face of theatre in our region, from directors to designers, producers to paint shop workers, we find out what it takes to make it in the business of show.

Picture credit: Fraser Youngson

Emily Hackett

Emily has worked with the Playhouse for four years – having started as a freelancer, and now working fulltime as Deputy Head of Paint shop. The paint shop creates big set pieces and backdrops that give productions an authentic, realistic feel.

She began her time studying Art A Level and a BTEC in Production Arts, knowing that she already loved theatre but unsure of what area she wanted to focus on. Eventually, she studied Scenic Art at Rose Bruford and found her place in the paint shop. It was also there that she gained experience of how theatre is produced professionally, as part of a team of fellow students.

Although working in such a fastpaced industry can prove stressful, she thinks that moving forward she would love to continue working with producing theatres like the Playhouse, saying that they are incredibly creative environments.

“If someone is interested in working backstage in a theatre, I’d suggest they have a go at everything they can – you might be surprised by what appeals to you once you get stuck in. I quickly realised that painting was when I felt happiest. It’s amazing when you finally get to step back and see your work on stage after focussing on tiny details for so long. It’s also very sad when it’s over and it gets brought back down – but then you start to work on a new project and it’s always something varied and new.”

Krysztina Winkel

Emerging producer Krysztina Winkel, has joined Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre as Embedded Community Producer focusing on outreach and participation, bringing theatre to the people of Coventry and people from Coventry to the theatre!

Originally from Germany, Krysztina worked as Education and Outreach Officer for Deutsche Opera Rhein for four years, where she was responsible for running inclusive youth dance and theatre ensembles, as well as facilitating opera and dance outreach programmes. She has gone on to work around the world, working with community theatre group Barefeet Theatre in Zambia, as well as on social inclusion projects in countries ranging from Italy to Iraq. She is currently studying for a Masters in Arts Enterprise and Development alongside her work at the Belgrade.

“Through this role, I hope to widen the reach of the Belgrade’s engagement work, strengthening existing relationships with artists and communities in the city, as well as brokering new ones, by creating inspiring platforms for dialogue, wonder and creativity.”

Picture credit: Fraser Youngson

Kush Patel

Stage Technician at Nottingham Playhouse Kush first entered the arts sector as an actor, but began taking an interest in the technical elements of theatre in case it became useful in future. He ended up studying Technical Theatre and Stage Management – eventually freelancing at Bloomsbury Theatre in London before working at Leicester’s Curve for four years. He has now been at Nottingham Playhouse for nearly three years. Day-to-day Kush helps to fit up sets, making sure it’s safe for artists cast, creatives and technicians. Then the running of the shows comes into play– looking after elements such as flying in set or setting stage cues.

Once a production is over, he also helps move the set out ready for the next play or musical.

“Ultimately I wanted to do something that was fun, and that’s why I moved towards tech work. The hours can be unsociable, but one of the best things about the job is meeting the cast and creatives working on a production… they essentially become family during the time that a play is on stage.”

Danielle Stanley

Danielle is a freelance, dancer, dance teacher and choreographer who has worked as the choreographer for Loughborough Town Hall’s annual pantomime for the last three years. Danielle says: “There’s something special about working in the venue you grew up performing in.”

As a child, her dream was to be on the West End stage, “Ever since I saw my first West End show, Cats. I got the bug for performing ever since. I also have a vivid memory of being in the 4+ at school, and making up movements to a song, which I then taught to the whole class. So perhaps choreography was always my destiny.”

Dancing from a young age, Danielle studied Dance at GCSE and A level which ignited her desire to audition for performing arts school and resulted in her attending The Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts where she gained both a Foundation Diploma and a BA (Hons) in Dance.

She then went on to work two contracts abroad and began her career as a choreographer. She also teaches classes and workshops in various styles.

“As a dance teacher, the most rewarding aspects of my job are the little mile stones made with children I teach. I have taught many who wouldn’t join in, who are now blossoming into gorgeous confident dancers/performers. Or those who are just hungry to work hard, who I can push with more challenging choreography. Seeing their faces light up on stage is priceless.

As a choreographer, its the time the scrambled choreography in my brain miraculously comes together. Most of the creative process happens just me prancing around at home. So the day I finally divulge it to the group, is both the scariest and best part of the job.”

Alexander Love

Alexander Love is 19 and studying a BA (Hons) in Contemporary Dance at the London Contemporary Dance School in central London and works as a teaching assistant.

“I started dancing when I was four, although after my first ever class I didn’t want to go back. However, my mum persisted and a few weeks later she took me back and I have never stopped dancing since. I began dancing at a local dance school, in the styles of ballet, tap and modern.”

Aged 12 Alexander was selected from over 500 male dancers for Lord of The Flies by Mathew Bourne giving him an incredible, professional experience performing at the Birmingham Hippodrome. It also showed him that men could dance and be proud. After that, becoming a professional dancer became his ambition.

Since then he’s performed in Matthew Bourne’s New Adventure performance, Romeo and Juliet, at Curve and is a member of the Curve Young Company; where the range of styles and the opportunities that have been made available to him has significantly developed his approach to dance.

“In my experience, the most challenging aspect for dance has to be discipline. 2020 will see me finish my first year of training and in the upcoming next few weeks there will be some big auditions, which we will keep our fingers crossed for!”

Picture credit: Fraser Youngson

Jake Orr

Jake Orr is Nottingham Playhouse’s first-ever producer. In this role he works on up to 13 in-house productions per year, as well as supporting West End transfers, tours and co-created projects. He also helps to develop new writing and assist with programming.

Prior to starting at the Playhouse Jake had worked as Producer at Theatre503, London and is the founder of A Younger Theatre and Incoming Festival. In 2019 Jake set up Jake Orr Productions through which he is producing Charlotte Josephine’s Pops in a co-production with HighTide and Live Theatre.

“Having been a long admirer of Nottingham Playhouse I was delighted to be joining the company at such an exciting time for the organisation. It’s great to work as part of such a brilliant and dedicated team.”

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