My placement experience

Being a third-year student of The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, studying on the ‘Drama, Applied Theatre, and Education’ course, we are given the opportunity to do a professional placement in an area of the industry we want to explore, and see ourselves taking further post-graduation. For me, I knew from the offset that I wanted to work with a theatre company filled with actors and participants that stand outside the box of what this industry expects. I wanted to meet new people with wildly different perspectives on theatre and performance than what the mainstream industry portrays. This led me to Face Front!

It has always been an interest of mine to work with fantastic people with different abilities. When I got placed with face front, I was over the moon at what was in store. Upon researching the theatre company, I came to learn of all the different programmes, groups and touring theatre productions they offer: It’s my Move, DDM, InterACTion, Blue Sky Actors, Broken Silence – to name a few. I immediately felt like I was getting the experience of numerous placements with the difference in each group.

DDM (Dance, Drama, and Music) was the group I felt most in tune with at the beginning, as I’ve worked with young people aged 14-22 before. However, the weeks I spent with them taught me a different angle in approaching workshops and leading a group of people! It’s also the group in which I learned most from the Artistic Director, Ray Downing. I got to observe how he ran these classes, beginning every session with a sit-down snack time with the participants, which I personally found very useful in getting to know the participants before being thrown into work! I also got a feel of how Ray works on keeping the participants involved and motivated! With every session offering games and activities where everybody gets to be in the spotlight! Everyone gets the opportunity to lead a game if they wish, and everybody’s voice is heard and supported!

Completely contrasting DDM is InterACTion, a group working towards their fab show “Mr and Mystery”, filled with fun twists, themes that are important to the participants, and a whole lot of fun! This was the first group I met on my first day, and if I’m honest, I was super nervous on account of the age range involved! I had never before worked in a theatrical setting with anybody over the age of 25! But now I can confidently say I’ve worked with fabulous actors from all paths of life, right up to the ages of 90! This in itself brings an entirely new perspective to what theatre can be for me. InterACTion brings together and showcases the talents of the participants in a subtle way. For example, Frankie and Rose! Upon first meeting them, they both appeared to be very different people, from two different generations, with different interests, and different reasons for attending the group. But they both have show-stopping voices which are showcased in Mr and Mystery, and totally took me off guard! I feel so fortunate to have seen what these fabulous people can do, not to mention my personal favourite part of the sessions: Linda’s game show!

I feel that having Ray and Sarah-Jane as hosts/mentors throughout this process has been a huge privilege, especially knowing that they once studied on the same course as me and have worked at Face Front ever since! This really put my mind at ease when I started working with Face Front, as I could see first-hand where my degree can lead me. They have an entire work family with the workers and participants at face front, which I hope to find for myself in my career.

As 2021 ends, and 2022 begins, I am thrilled and excited to say I may be returning to face front for a few more weeks to end my placement with DDM and InterACTion before I go on to finish my degree. I can honestly say that this experience has further shaped me as a theatre practitioner and facilitator, teaching me new and exciting ways of engaging with theatre and actors of all sorts and has given me a newfound confidence in myself and my abilities in what I wish to peruse in the future.

All that’s left to say is – “Thank you, Darling!”

By Neamh