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Interview tips for stage management/technical theatre degree courses

(14 Posts)
BoGrainger Wed 10-Feb-16 20:27:25

Dd3 is very upset after hearing today that her first choice, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, won't be offering her a place on their Stage Management course in September.
She now thinks that she came across as a bit of a know-it-all in her interview, and her enthusiasm for the course may have been eclipsed by her wanting to let them know all the things she's done and how brilliant she is (!) and probably came across badly.
Of course, it may be that they had lots more suitable candidates but as this was dd's first interview she's wringing her hands that she's cocked up and needs advice on how to best improve her approach for her Guildhall interview in a couple of weeks.
Can anyone help please?
Also, can you ask why you haven't been offered a place?

SpaceDinosaur Wed 10-Feb-16 21:15:02

Half the knack with SMs is their ability to listen and communicate with both confidence , authority and humour.

Your daughter may be a perfect future SM having done loads (I'm guessing in the Am world) or she may not. She may not have received an offer because the college has a "type" of candidate and she didn't fit their mould.

Most decent drama schools have great SM courses. I'm guessing your daughter is probably familiar with the U.K. Drama schools website
There's more than one course out there. RADA's course is fabulous

BoGrainger Wed 10-Feb-16 21:27:14

Thanks for your reply. Yes, she may have to reconsider places that she originally decided against like Rada, Lamda, Old Vic because they didn't have accomodation options. It's good to hear a recommendation for Rada.

SpaceDinosaur Wed 10-Feb-16 22:47:32

A lot of the London schools don't have attached accommodation options because they're in London! There's student accommodation everywhere. Promise.

I've worked with SMs who have trained in unis, schools and colleges. It's always about who you know as much as what. A London school typically provides better networking opportunities.

BoGrainger Thu 11-Feb-16 07:10:42

Yes, you're right about London. Once she's got over her disappointment I will try and convince her that Cardiff wouldn't have provided the same opportunities. Thanks again.

Roystonv Thu 11-Feb-16 07:13:21

My son did this course at bovts, would not recommend I'm sorry to say.

BoGrainger Thu 11-Feb-16 07:20:28

Ooh Royston, was it the course content? Lack of opportunities? Please tell!

Roystonv Thu 11-Feb-16 08:01:04

Sorry, too much to go into but they all worked their socks off and no reflection on the year.

Ready123 Thu 11-Feb-16 18:54:19

While a technical course is very important, ultimately your daughter's career will depend on how much of an aptitude she has for it. As SpaceDinosaur says, it is primarily about her ability to communicate and get on with people, and that is something that the best course in the world can't teach!

One thing I would bear in mind is how little SMs earn in their first few years. Your daughter is likely to need to build up contacts by doing fringe work or placements. I would also strongly recommend that she thinks about getting some experience of theatre administration (eg by volunteering) because a SM who can show producers that she understands that side of the theatre industry is very impressive. Ultimately I would recommend saving money to support her through that period rather than spending money on living costs in London (if you have to make a choice). She could also think about volunteering in London fringe theatres now - they are crying out for good committed ASMs for various productions and you can make brilliant contacts there.

It's a great career for the right person, and a bright, committed SM will rise very quickly. I hope she doesn't feel too downhearted because the course she is on is probably the least important element in her future success!

Ready123 Thu 11-Feb-16 18:57:40

ps does your daughter go to lots of theatre? If she can, I recommend that. She should also think about the technical side of the theatre she sees - ie focusing on what the challenges might be for the SM (large cast, costume changes, sound and miking, short get in times for tours etc) so that she can talk confidently about that at interview.

BoGrainger Thu 11-Feb-16 21:19:15

Thanks for the replies Ready, some things to think about. She volunteers in local theatres whenever her studies allow but once her exams are over it would be useful then to see what's available in London or Cambridge and extend her knowledge and make contacts.
Her passion is lighting and she made her choices based on the lighting modules in the courses. It seems both of you agree that her personality will determine success more than the institution or course.

IvySquirrel Sat 13-Feb-16 22:32:57

I am a stage manager and interview for this type of course.

I look for genuine enthusiasm for and knowledge of theatre and performance, ability to discuss performances you have seen critically, a range of experience (school, am dram, youth theatre) and aspirational ambitions.

Good luck to your DD. It is the best job in the world.

Cinnamoncookie Sat 13-Feb-16 23:00:10

I'm an SM, retrained at one of the London drama schools after a career in a non-theatre-related profession.

For interviews, I'd definitely suggest emphasising her enthusiasm, her keenness to learn, and so on. It sounds liks she's recognised where she may have gone wrong, which is great, and I would agree with her assessment of her own interview. When I was doing my training, current students would meet the interview candidates, show them around, chat to them about the course and so on, and the ones who talked about, "I know everything, I ran all the tech at my school, I'm an experienced lighting designer" (or whatever) were the ones we knew weren't going to get in.

A PP mentioned volunteering at fringe venues as an ASM. I don't advise it myself unless it's somewhere that has a proper internship programme set up. Unscrupulous fringe venues use volunteers to SM their shows, who end up way out of their depth, with no support, no possibility of learning best practice from industry professionals, frantically trying to fulfill all the requirements of director, designers and actors, and having to take the show washing home with them every night and pay for washing powder out of their own pocket.

London is a great place to train, but very expensive. Although the drama schools don't have accom as such, there are always options. In my year, 4 students shared a house for 2 years, it was taken over by new students on the course, and 6 years later goodness knows how many students from our course have lived there.

I worked harder during my course than I have in any job since, (at least you're getting more for your tuition fees, with 40+ contact hours a week!), but I wouldn't change it for anything, and am incredibly proud to have trained where I did, and my certificate is on my living room wall.

BoGrainger Sun 14-Feb-16 10:23:52

Thank you both for your posts. I'm shocked that some places take advantage of voluntary ASMs to that degree. Definitely something to watch out for shock

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