Sarah Stephenson, youth theatre director

 31 October 2012

Sarah Stephenson is Nottingham Playhouse's Youth Theatre Director. Her work involves running workshops and finding ways to engage students with theatre.

"It would be hard for me to do the job if I didn’t empathise with teachers and freelancers."

Hometown?

I'm from Lowestoft in Suffolk, but I now live in West Bridgford, Nottingham.

I grew up in a town where the only theatre was the local amateur dramatics group. It still frustrates me that I missed out on years of good theatre.

What job do you do?

I'm Youth Theatre Director at Nottingham Playhouse.

What previous jobs in theatre have you done?

Before I moved into the theatre industry, I taught drama and English in secondary schools for four years. I then spent a year as a primary school teacher.

"It would be hard for me to do the job if I didn’t empathise with teachers and freelancers."

After that, I was a freelance drama practitioner for a couple of years. There are natural comparisons between the work that I was doing in those freelance jobs, and the type of projects I lead on now at the theatre. 

But I didn’t know that education officers in theatres existed until I saw the post advertised.

What qualifications do you have?

An English and drama degree, and a PGCE (teacher training qualification) specialising in secondary English teaching.

What do you do at work?

Here are some things my job involves:

  • delivering drama workshops in schools, running pre-show workshops or post-show discussions – sometimes all three in one day!
  • running our youth theatre
  • spending time in the office designing our education workpacks
  • leading sessions with our over 50s group
  • putting up an art installation in the foyer
  • running our Year 10 work experience programme
  • sitting in on rehearsals
  • interviewing actors or the director.

Every week something exciting happens.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Working with young people. I like passing on the drama skills I’ve developed over the years. 

I just want to keep developing my role so our youth theatres become even larger and take part in more events.

And the worst thing about the job?

A whole day in the office doing admin. I prefer to be up on my feet doing things.

How do I get into theatre?

For education work, teach in schools and do your own freelance projects first.

It would be hard for me to do the job I do now if I didn’t understand, and empathise with, teachers and freelancers.

It's also extremely helpful to have a current working knowledge of the national curriculum.

 

Sarah is part of our theatre experts panel. Ask Sarah a question about working in theatre.


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