Working for Stagecoach Theatre Arts

6 08 2012

When I left school I knew exactly what I wanted out of life.

I was going to be an actress.

I left my home town of Carrickfergus in August 1998 and moved to Surrey where I enrolled on a three year Theatre Studies degree course at one of Britain’s best Drama Schools.

When I graduated, I worked on a temporary basis through a number of agencies for various organisations. This gave me the flexibility to earn a living but also to take on professional acting roles including; TIE, short films, commercials and music videos without the hassle of having to work long notice periods or be tied down to a job indefinitely.

Unfortunately when it comes to knowing what one wants out of life – life (and what we want out of it) changes over time.

Over the years, I developed different tastes: I discovered that I liked clubbing, I met the man who would eventually become my husband, and I realised that at some point I wanted to own my own house and maybe even have children. I realised that to meet my revised life goals I would need greater stability to be able to do more mundane things in life – like pay rent and bills.

I started to take on more “permanent” jobs that were less suited to a nomadic lifestyle and as such demanded more commitment to sticking around and being “professionally developed”.  I HATE the term “PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT” but I will no doubt revisit that in the future. The point is that after a series of “permanent” but ultimately unsatisfying jobs I was eager for something that challenged me.

On one of my acting tours a colleague talked to me about a Saturday job she had at Stagecoach Theatre Arts. I had watched her run a workshop after one of our performances and she explained afterwards that her confidence and repertoire of Drama activities came from her experience as a Stagecoach Drama teacher. She was an accomplished workshop leader but saying that, nothing she had done was earth shattering. During my childhood I had attended Drama clubs from the age of 11 and at one point I was attending 3 different groups every Saturday and walked the length of Belfast from one to another.

I considered whether I had the ability to pass on my own subject knowledge to enquiring young minds.  I knew had I the passion to do it but was less confident about controlling a group of young children. However as I was often disappearing for Acting Tours, it was a flexible way of working and it would bring some stability to my working life. As the hourly rate at the time was about £17 per hour I definitely thought it was worth a phone call or email to head office.

I contacted Stagecoach as soon as the tour finished and I returned to my mundane job as a hotel receptionist. They immediately put me in touch with my local Stagecoach which was only 2minutes walk from my front door.

This is when I first met the principal Pete Gee (mentioned in an earlier post) who has become a dear friend over the years. He took me on as a deputy covering staff absence in all three disciplines; Drama, Dance and Singing. Over the years i have taught all three disciplines but have now been the Drama teacher for about 5 years.

What started out as a well paid part time job fast became a passion and I have now been with the company for 8 years. Working with children is a privilege and an education of its own, not something for the feint hearted but definitely something I would highly recommend.

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