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Soapbox: Technical theatre must stop shutting out young talent

Is the West End limiting creativity by shutting out young talent? Photo: Shutterstock
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As a recent graduate with professional experience on touring shows, I have been frustrated by the way technical theatre operates in this country. It is shutting out young talent.

The biggest companies demand that their professional technicians have experience on a West End show or in large-scale touring before they even consider applying for a job there.

I have a bachelor’s degree in technical theatre and a strong CV that includes working professionally in roles from design and management to technical arts. So why won’t the big companies take a second look at me or give me a chance to show what I can do?

In few other fields would upcoming talent be ignored in this way. Young people might offer a different perspective and new ideas to theatre productions. It is unfair.

Taking a random example, a job posted for an assistant stage manager/book cover role on Mandy.com says applicants “must have West End experience to apply”. And yet, those with fewer qualifications are likely to end up in the West End if they have the right connections.

So how do we get there? It feels as if the technical workforce in the West End is ageing but not going anywhere.

My question is simple: How can we get the experience if employers refuse to even glance at CVs that don’t have the words “West End experience” or “large touring experience” in the covering letter?

It is time to take a punt on the younger professionals – or at least create a scheme or a pathway to take young talent into the West End and large touring productions. We need help. We have the ideas and the talent but we can’t show you tour abilities or potential. Give us a chance.

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