A Foot in the (Stage) Door: An Introduction to the ProRefero Blog

I vividly remember that one defining moment which has led me to the life I have today. That moment has etched itself in my memory.

Today, I am married to the love of my life and have two beautiful children, I have a great career in the theatre industry, and I have incredible friends and colleagues. This is all a result of that one moment; stood in the rain at 8:45am staring anxiously at the writing on the door, imminently awaiting it to open and someone to let me in.

Theatre for me has always been more than a hobby, it was a valuable tool that brought a shy teenager out of his shell. At the age of 17, I studied Art and Performing Arts. To be honest, I chose these subjects because I had some natural ability in them and enjoyed them more than any other subject. Like many in my class, I had aspirations of becoming an actor, but at the time my work experience consisted of valeting cars and washing dishes in a busy restaurant kitchen.

I was fortunate to have someone in the right place at the right time. My lovely mother and my younger sister were receiving piano tuition from a man called Ian M. It just so happened that Ian was an integral member of the crew at the local theatre and they urgently required bodies to staff the pantomime. My name was put forward.

The rain ran down my face as I tried to find the stage door. My hand-written instructions said that it was down the right side of the building, along a cobbled street. I found it. I took a breath. I rang the bell.

The door open and I was welcomed in. This was a nerve-racking experience. I was 17 and stepping into an entirely new environment. I knew nobody, I didn’t even know what Ian looked like. For some, this would be a breeze, but remember that shy description I gave before? Well, it wasn’t completed gone.

The truth is, that moment stood at the door was the most challenging part.

I remember having a few moments of catastrophic thought, my heart racing and the panic of a completely new environment setting in. This could have easily resulted in me turning around and heading back to my comfort zone, but I am thankful that it didn’t. I’m a different person today, 12 years and 11 months from that day. I’m proud of the person I am, the family I have, the career I’ve worked for and the skills I’ve developed. This is all a result of stepping through that stage door and entering the world of theatre.

So what’s the purpose of this blog post?

There’s going to be some posts to follow that chronicle my own experiences in the industry as well as those of other theatre professionals. These posts will be packed with hints and tips to develop your skills to help you to create a professional profile, get ahead in the industry and to evaluate your successes, with the aim of helping you to meet your career ambitions.

I had a lucky break to get my foot in the door, but the 12 years and 11 months from that day have been up to me. I’ve worked hard, learnt fast, fallen down, got back up and I’ve pushed myself to keep developing my skills. I’m far from perfect, I’ve made numerous mistakes along the way and wish that a resource like ProRefero was available to have steered me around them.

The ProRefero community aspires to empower new professionals and startup businesses to succeed through offering access to information. We want to reshape an ever-changing industry and strive to keep it commercially viable. Our mission is to play a major role in increasing career sustainability, specifically but not confined to the performing arts industry. We want to help you get started and see you succeed. For example, if you’ve just started or you’ve been going 20 years, we will share valuable information on how to improve your career, skills, brand, productivity, network and more. Equally, if you have information to share to better the lives and careers of others, let us know. This is for everyone willing to share or receive information, whether you’re a stage manager or a dancer, a designer or an actor. You may be new and thinking about entering the industry, if so then listen carefully, or a world-renowned designer with a wealth of information to share.

It all starts with that one moment, getting a foot in the door. Make sure you’re prepared to hit the ground running because, at this early stage in a career, second chances can’t be taken for granted.

The next post will describe my first day. The good things and the bad things. I will also switch to my current perspective as a Technical Manager of a theatre. I carry out numerous interviews with staff as well as working with new starters, volunteers, freelancers and agency staff. I will discuss what I look for in a new team member and what ticks the right boxes for me.

Subscribe to the blog and stay in touch with the ProRefero community. Learn and develop your skills, and we’ll help give you the advice you need to not only get your foot in the door but to become a career professional. We’ll help teach you the big things but also make you think about all the fine details, such as personal branding, experience, expertise, networking, strategy and much more.

We are currently working on our ProRefero Youtube channel so check it out below and subscribe early.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1hYkFEnNUUrU9h7p_4mEYA

And look out for the ProRefero Podcast coming soon.

Have a great week,

Michael

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