Theatremaker Milly Rolle: ‘Chickenshed taught me to bring something of yourself to every project’
My first job working in theatre was with Chickenshed. I began volunteering mid-2015 when I graduated from the University of East Anglia. I knew Chickenshed well because I attended the Youth Theatre from the age of 12-18 and the company had a huge influence on my theatremaking approach and how it should be used as a tool for social change.
I have had lots of ‘first days’ with Chickenshed as I jump from project to project and take on different roles. The ability to be flexible, and allow your expectations to be subverted, is important. In my first months of working I often had the voice in my head that I was doing it wrong or that I wasn’t capable. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I soon found it was best to learn by observation, take my time, have some conviction and trust in my knowledge and ability, and ask for guidance when it is needed. There is no shame in asking for help.
I knew I had something to offer and over the past two years that confidence has grown and my work with the company has diversified and quantified. I have worked on various projects – predominantly with the Youth and Children’s Theatre both in-house and through outreach – and currently I am working with the department in both a creative and administrative capacity.
For a practical person, coordinating and administrating projects might seem like a less valuable and enriching task. That was once my fear, but I have steadily learned that being multifaceted is crucial to a long-term career in the arts. The inclusive conversations and workshops that I am part of, and help lead, at Chickenshed are provoking new thoughts and ideas within me about what it means to engage young people in the arts and how we do that in a way that represents them with total honesty.
I am able to apply what I learn to some of the other freelance practitioner work I have done with other professional companies and their young people. The most important thing I have learnt from my first job at Chickenshed, and all the conversations I have had with prospective employers in my freelance work, is to make a lasting impression and bring something of yourself to offer to a project – what makes the role different because it’s you in the hot seat? There will always be a reason why your personal contribution is unique and valuable.
CV: Milly Rolle
Training: Chickenshed Youth Theatre, University of East Anglia BA drama
Theatre credits include: Benjamin’s Bullet, Hounds, Norman (Minotaur Theatre Company)
Other: Membership administrator, Chickenshed
Milly Rolle was talking to John Byrne