Global Challenge - Jessica Thackray

Global Challenge: The English Theatre, Frankfurt, Germany
BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 2016

Details of duties/ responsibilities/ activities

When I first arrived at the theatre, I was thrown straight into working on the show Death and the Maiden. The theatre expressed that two of their Stage Managers were currently on annual leave which meant that my colleague, Umberto, was calling and running the show alone- which was proving to be quite difficult. Therefore, I was able to assist, support, and cover his work, aiding in the work balance. In the evenings I went to the theatre at 6pm (earlier for the Sunday show) and for the first week, my role was to mainly shadow Umberto and to take note of what I needed to do and when. After this week, I took over as the Deputy Stage Manager and called the show alone. 

During the run of Death and the Maiden, preparations for Alice in Wonderland began. My role within this time was to attend rehearsals and create the book. The book is important for the running of this show as this contains the blocking, any technical notes, and also the cues for all technical departments within the script. 

When Alice in Wonderland began, I was responsible for the transition into the theatre space; conversing with the Director, actors and technical teams to ensure smooth running and sticking to the very strict schedule. I was then responsible for calling the show on a daily basis, making all of the backstage calls, creating show reports and ensuring the full company was happy and well. 

Main achievements

This internship gave me the opportunity to put into practice the theory that I had studied in two years’ worth of theatre crafts lectures. Part of this meant that I was able to call two of the shows; Alice in Wonderland and Death and the Maiden alone, of which I was very proud. This in itself gave me the confidence to believe that I could actually pursue this after graduation if the opportunity arose. It was also a great achievement to be able to work in a professional venue such as The English Theatre, Frankfurt and work alongside a professional company. I also think that the way in which I handled tech week was a great achievement. Although it is renowned to be quite a stressful week within the theatre, the fact I was able to stay calm and collected from beginning to end was very satisfying. My colleagues told me it was a really good time to have an English native speaker at the theatre because of the upcoming Drama Club production, which occur once per year and provide children and teenagers with the opportunity to work alongside professional and semi-professional actors in a production directed by a professional director. Having me there allowed the team (especially the younger children) to be able to interact with an English speaker, practice their English, and gain clarification on difficult areas of the script. 

Most enjoyable part of the internship

During the internship, I really enjoyed meeting and working alongside so many different people- all of whom had trained and worked within the theatre for a long period of time and from doing so, had gained real experience. This was exciting for me as it allowed me to ask lots of questions to find out how people had got to this particular stage in their careers, learn about their training pathways and also just ask about their preferences or what they wished they had done differently. I also found that my colleagues were all very supportive- especially during situations such as the technical rehearsal. I was slightly apprehensive as I felt pressured to keep the technical rehearsal moving to schedule and not to make mistakes. However, the support that I received from my colleagues was fantastic. They helped me to feel at ease and to understand that everyone makes mistakes and if any occurred, then this was only natural!  I was desperate to keep busy and meet new people and I used this internship as a way of not only learning more about Stage Management, but also as a way of learning about the other roles available within the theatre and networking with people within these roles. I loved getting to know everyone really well and from doing this internship I have also made great friends with whom I am still in touch. 

Skills developed

  • Confidence in my own ability: This internship gave me the confidence and belief that I could actually transfer the theory and knowledge I previously learned into practice. 
  • Communication skills: It was my job, as the Deputy Stage Manager, to ensure that all of the many different departments within the theatre were kept up to date and aware of the progress of the particular show. Sometimes this was verbally or in passing, but it was also commonly written in the show reports that I would send out at the end of each show. 
  • Ability to work under pressurised situations: The theatre was time pressurised but I also put pressure on myself to do the best that I could do; I used it to push me to get things correct and on time. 

Following on from my internship, I have realised that, if I were to work abroad again, I would make a real conscious effort to improve and potentially become fluent in the language that was native to my workplace, as a way of expanding my own knowledge and showing my enthusiasm. 

How this will benefit me in the future

I think that this experience has benefitted me in the sense that I no longer feel phased by the idea of living or working abroad and having to start from scratch career-wise and friendship-wise. This shows my independence, which has developed a lot since taking part in the Global Challenge programme. After throwing myself into the programme, meeting lots of new friends and being congratulated on my achievements at the theatre, I now feel able to take on other international experiences. I think that this whole experience has given me more confidence and global knowledge which I hope graduate employers will appreciate. I also think that I have benefitted by becoming more culturally aware. I feel that this internship highlights my ability to empathise with people who have grown up in different countries who all have different cultures. 

 I was thankful that I had a very good experience and felt really at home within Frankfurt and the Theatre.


Professional Services