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How Stage One works  
More from the team behind Stage One, the charity dedicated to supporting new theatre producers.

Read the first part of our interview with Stage One’s Katie and Zoe, and producer and Stage One trainee Peter, here.

Aside from Stage One, what else exists to help young producers?

Katie: There’s other projects out there, MA courses and places like The Old Vic  offer programmes, but there’s nothing really that’s specific to commercial theatre, which is what we offer.

Who is on Stage One’s board at the moment?

Katie: Nick Salmon is our Chief Executive, Luke Johnson is the Chair and we also have a Council of 23 Trustees from the commercial theatre industry.

Zoe: There are representatives from all the big theatre companies like Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, Ambassador Theatre Group, Really Useful Group, and the smaller production companies, like Carole Winter and Mark Rubinstein. All the board members are also members of SOLT.

Katie: Our two newest Trustees are Neil Adleman from Harbottle and Lewis and Adam Kenwright from AKA.

What do the board do in addition to supporting Stage One’s fundraising activities?

Zoe: One of the most important things Stage One does, other than assisting with the financial side, is mentoring. The theatre is perceived as a really closed-door industry and everyone who receives a bursary says that the mentor was as important as the money.

Peter: I don’t know if I could have moved on with my career without mentoring. It’s so important to just have access to people, and to have an open door into Sonia Friedman’s office – it’s pretty extraordinary, actually, to be able to do that.

Zoe: Part of that is about the mentor having a shorthand already, they’ve been in the industry so long, they can help the up-and-coming producers avoid the many pitfalls that they’ve already fallen into themselves. Also, I know one of the things bursary recipients have said in the past is, ‘is there any way Stage One can help with legal fees?’ because they were finding that with the bursary funding so much of the money was going out on legal fees. Neil Adleman is now offering some free legal advice to the Start Up recipients.

So are the mentors all drawn from the council?

Katie: Not all the time, but they are people that Nick Salmon and the board think would suit that project. For example, Sasha Regan who runs the Union Theatre, is producing an all-male Pirates of Penzance. She’s done it on the fringe and it’s a really slick production. Basically the point of us giving her a bursary wasn’t necessarily JUST to put the show on where it’s being put on, it’s about the right people seeing the show and taking the next commercial step. So her mentor is there to ensure that the right people see the show to ensure that it makes the leap from Fringe to the commercial stage.

When you go through the scheme, is it tailored to the apprentice’s interests?

Katie: Not specifically – their interests are obviously producing – but it’s generally the producers pick who they would like to work with them.

Zoe: So in a way it does work like that, because for example Peter was probably selected by his placements because he wants to work in musical theatre.

Peter: I think that I was chosen for Sonia Friedman’s office because in my interview I said I wanted to learn contracting, and now I’m working a lot in their contracts department.

Katie
: Brilliant! That’s what we try to do! Some people are always asking me, when am I getting my next apprentice?!

Zoe: The point is that it is a two-way thing. The most successful apprentices are the people who have got that drive, who ask the questions.

Peter, how does it work practically with your mentor as you work through your apprenticeship?

Peter: We have mentor meetings which I use to highlight areas I would like to do but haven’t already experienced.  For example, I had never worked on a press night at Sonia’s since I’ve started, but I’m now working on one for Jerusalem

Zoe: That’s one thing that people taking on the apprentices have to have – they have to have shows that are either in development or in production because the idea is that they will work across the whole gamut from development through to opening night – casting, everything like that.

More on Stage One later this week… and take a look at the website, www.stageone.uk.com.

Posted on: 24th February 2010

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