Starting off with no experience

  • Aaron Agius

    Assistant Stage Manager

    Hi all. I have a really big passion to be a DSM. I have been studying technical theatre as a hobby since the age of 12 and then took the subject as a sixth form course. I then went onto East 15 to get a degree in Stage Management, However i failed the course on the set design unit, even after re-taking the first year. I was tested at the uni and found I had learning difficulties. Ever since I have been in a normal job just so I can keep and income and pay bills etc and struggling to get my foot in the door. I know industry professionals but they don't always reply as there busy. I am applying for jobs and opportunities but getting nowhere.

    The other concern is everyone I have shown my CV to, all tell me similar things about the changes needed etc and I have a Stage Jobs pro guide book which tells me something else. In a way I agree with the information the book has provided. E.G: my first line in my personal statement is ' I am an enthusiastic individual .............'. From reading the advice in the book, I doubt having this sentence because employers will not want an enthusiastic individual who can't prove anything before an interview.

    Apart from the one day crew class training I will be going too soon, I am struggling with my CV, covering letter and a way of finding experience to make me more employable. I will never give up but I am stuck in a little bit of a rut and was wondering if anyone has any great advice as to what I should do. This will be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Aaron

    • 22nd Jun 2016
    • 3609
    • 22
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Hi Aaron

    Can you get into London on 20th November because there is this event for young people who want to get into theatre. It's called Theatre Craft and it's at the Royal Opera house. There are lots of employers to talk to as well as seminars and Q & As to attend.

    You may not be able to get a job out of it but you will get lots of amazing advice from people who have worked in theatre for years. Take your CV along with a note book and have a good time.

    Here is the website if you would like to check it out.

    www.theatrecraft.org/

    Hope all goes well and all the best.

    Don't give up!

    Emma

    • 6th Oct 2015
    • 1
  • Aaron Agius

    Assistant Stage Manager

    Hi Emma,

    Thank you for this information. It may take a lot of begging to get a days annual leave at work but hopefully I will be able to attend this event. Once again thank you for the information.

    Kind Regards

    Aaron

    • 7th Oct 2015
    • 2
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Aaron, how did it go? Fingers crossed for you.

    • 5th Jan 2016
    • 3
  • Aaron Agius

    Assistant Stage Manager

    Hi Andy, unfortunately not had any luck . Wasn't able to get to the event in November but regularly checking for further events. I have the time to do anything this month. What else can I do in the meantime ?

    • 5th Jan 2016
    • 4
  • Christopher Barton

    Assistant Stage Manager

    Hi Aaron

    One recommendation i can give, which worked for me, is try getting some work at the Edinburgh fringe.

    I did it as a volunteer and before working that i had limited experience, mainly just doing set building at heritage sites.

    Depending who you get to the fringe with you will learn all sorts and operate all kind of shows. as well as learning other departments such as: LX, Sound, set building etc.

    good luck in the future

    • 13th Jan 2016
    • 5
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    You could also try Disney Cruise Lines as shipwide technician. they're always advertising.

    • 13th Jan 2016
    • 6
  • Andy Hall

    Company Stage Manager

    Hi Aaron,

    My advice to you would be to contact your nearest producing theatre and ask them for work experience. That way you get to experience how they work and they get to see you in action. I realise this could be difficult because you need to continue doing your 'day' job to pay the bills but it would be a great way to get known and show off your skills.

    Hope that helps,

    Andy

    • 14th Jan 2016
    • 7
  • Aaron Agius

    Assistant Stage Manager

    Thank you for everyone's responses . I really appreciate the advise. I will try anything to get my foot in the door .

    • 15th Jan 2016
    • 8
  • Daniel Joyce

    Stage Manager

    Aaron, you could always try volunteering for a local theatre company who put on their performances in a commerical theatre - build some experience, and then sell yourselves to the venue staff.... worked for me and I took my first professional job on for panto season last year!

    • 18th Feb 2016
    • 9
  • Paul Williams

    Technical Stage Manager

    Aaron, dont give up! does your current job give you some evenings and weekends free? if so get yourself onto some casual lists, local theatres, holiday parks etc. my first to jobs where at a local theatre while i was at collage then at a holiday resort.

    Biggest thing you can do is have confidence in yourself, I know that is easier said than done when you feel that every turn is faced with a brick wall but honestly you are your biggest asset and most valuble tool!

    CV's and covering letters are that first line of selling yourself. Belive what you write, keep it short, to the point and possitive. Covering letters start first paragraph with a bit about you, but not what you have on your cv, so for example dont' say ive worked on this show as dsm. Have a read though of the job description and highlight what the employer is looking for then in the rest of the covering letter explain how your skills sets match the job requirements, so for example if its a job as a lighting technitian and it asks for experiance in using a specific lighting desk and you have it say. you can do that by being subjective with an objective; whilst studying i was given the opportunity to learn and operate ETC ion desk from this i feel im a confident operator with the ablilty to programe and problem solve any issues. Most of the time employers in the application stage are looking to tick boxes, at first glance of a handfull of applications, who out of them gets the most ticks to be shortlisted for interview. never sell your self short, you went to drama school, yes you didn't pass one module but you did pass others, they all still count. Take your time, I know how hard it can be being faced with a blank peice of paper and not knowing where to start. I hope that helps and isnt to much of teaching your ganny how to suck eggs! best of luck bud :)

    • 31st Mar 2016
    • 10
  • Aaron Agius

    Assistant Stage Manager

    Hi Paul, thank you for your advice. it took me a while to make sense of it but I will have another look at my covering letter. I have my foot in the door with a local production company, however I have to get out of a situation where I need an income without working for someone to make the time and the production company said they will call if they need me. I will contact them again to show I am still interested. thank you

    • 8th Apr 2016
    • 11
  • Rachel Reeve

    Deputy Stage Manager

    Hi Paul

    In 17 years as a DSM I have never once been asked about my qualifications! I did an HND in stage management but all employers want to know is what experience you have. If you worked on college productions list them, but state college. You need to start as an ASM and work up to a book cover then DSM. It's unlikely you'd go straight in as DSM. I got my first job on a panto as ASM, last Christmas there were loads of adverts on here for last minute jobs. I then got paid jobs in drama colleges who needed staff to cover their graduate shows. Mount view and Lamda always need people. Call them and ask if they have jobs and get on their books for future work. Brighton Festival is coming up in May and they often need people for small jobs. I think your best bet is to wait til panto season if you can't get anything soon, it will get you a paid job on your cv. They start recruiting from about May. Write to the big companies like Qdos, FFE and Uk productions. They also do summer seasons. Also try Butlins, several people from my college got their first jobs there. It's a foot in the door and there are 3 to choose from and summer season will soon be here. They put on loads of stage productions. Have a look at my CV on my profile if it helps, I only list my jobs, no statement about myself, save that for the letters. Also consider Camp America, they need theartre people too. Good luck!

    • 8th Apr 2016
    • 12
  • Rachel Reeve

    Deputy Stage Manager

    Hi Aaron

    In 17 years as a DSM I have never once been asked about my qualifications! I did an HND in stage management but all employers want to know is what experience you have. If you worked on college productions list them, but state college. You need to start as an ASM and work up to a book cover then DSM. It's unlikely you'd go straight in as DSM. I got my first job on a panto as ASM, last Christmas there were loads of adverts on here for last minute jobs. I then got paid jobs in drama colleges who needed staff to cover their graduate shows. Mount view and Lamda always need people. Call them and ask if they have jobs and get on their books for future work. Brighton Festival is coming up in May and they often need people for small jobs. I think your best bet is to wait til panto season if you can't get anything soon, it will get you a paid job on your cv. They start recruiting from about May. Write to the big companies like Qdos, FFE and Uk productions. They also do summer seasons. Also try Butlins, several people from my college got their first jobs there. It's a foot in the door and there are 3 to choose from and summer season will soon be here. They put on loads of stage productions. Have a look at my CV on my profile if it helps, I only list my jobs, no statement about myself, save that for the letters. Also consider Camp America, they need theartre people too.

    I've just looked at your profile and if you want an honest opinion it's not well written, sorry. You are too honest in your description about negative things. Just write the positive things in bullet points not like a conversation, list your skills not your life story. It's too chatty and too much irrelevant stuff like making tea, which although friendly and fun is too much for an employer to read when looking at lots of people and makes you sound needy and inexperienced. (Sorry) Also your cv is too varied. If you want to be a stage manager then just list those jobs. It's not going to help you listing wardrobe dresser etc or stage door keeper. Just list the jobs and experience relevant to the jobs you want to do in the future not every job you did at college, unless you want to work in wardrobe ! You need to catch an employers eye, not send,them to sleep. Sorry if that sounds harsh but if you want to succeed......

    Good luck!

    • 8th Apr 2016
    • 13
  • Aaron Agius

    Assistant Stage Manager

    Hi Rachel,

    thank you, harsh but true. I had thought about the way you had spoken about my CV previously, but was difficult as I have had four different opinions, however anything is worth a try, I may save a copy of the CV as it is now and create another CV in the format you have spoken about. Thank you so much for the advice. I will not waste any time in making these changes.

    Best Regards

    Aaron

    • 9th Apr 2016
    • 14
  • Rachel Reeve

    Deputy Stage Manager

    Hi

    Have a look at other peoples profiles and CV's on here and get a better overall view. Mine may not be right either as things change and you will have been taught the most modern way. However I do stand by saying you are too chatty and honest. Talking about how you stack your canned food is not a selling point! Just say you are very organised that's all, keep to the facts. Saying you can be sarcastic is not a great selling point either, just say you have a great sense of humour and friendly personality. Remember an employer is looking at loads of CV's and they will decide in the first 30 seconds if yours is worth reading so be factual not chatty. List experience and skills above all else. Don't mention your break from the industry, save that for the interview only if they ask and put it in a positive way saying you needed to earn money while looking for work, not that you couldn't get a job. I really think Butlins would be a good starting point tho for experience.

    • 9th Apr 2016
    • 15
  • Aaron Agius

    Assistant Stage Manager

    Hi Rachel,

    thank you once again for your input. I would also like to ask if a different skill would benefit me. For example, a lot of the people I studied with choosing Stage Management for their second year at uni, chose props as their minor option because its a skill that fits well with Stage Management. Aside from this, would I be more approachable if I had any basic automation skills or would this be a completely different route. I have an interest to learn about basic automation but my desire has always been Stage Management.

    • 9th Apr 2016
    • 16
  • Aaron Agius

    Assistant Stage Manager

    changes have now been made, I have altered my profile slightly as well as a new profile picture, which is currently being approved. I have deleted my CV from the site so i can remove any information about the incomplete East 15 course. I will add this again to the website shortly after.

    • 9th Apr 2016
    • 17
  • Rachel Reeve

    Deputy Stage Manager

    Hi

    That's much better, well done, just one thing, the word it fulfil, not for fill!

    Prop making would be useful for an ASM role, I don't know about automation as I don't work on big west end shows but I suspect it's a diff department. A lot of DSM jobs want you to operate sound, ( not the shows with radio mics) Qlab or SCS and some of the smaller venues also want you to op lights. I had to learn this on the job. I only press Go, I don't programme, and I set up the speakers and desk on tour. It's good to have multi skills but if you really want to be a DSM I would start with that and not confuse employers as its not common to be a DSM and do tech work. Unless you want to be a tech ASM or tech SM. I do re- lights and fit ups too but I'm not technical. You have to start as ASM and work up to be in stage management really.

    • 10th Apr 2016
    • 18
  • Aaron Agius

    Assistant Stage Manager

    thank you that makes me happy to hear my profile is a lot better. I will change this word. I have adjusted the paper copy of my cv as well so it matches, only the credentials on the website and kept a lot more listed to one side so I can share this in an interview if asked. would that be the way to go? I have also asked a theatre manager I know for a reference if possible before I add the cv online again.

    • 10th Apr 2016
    • 19