Want My Job? Sally Zabroski, theatre practitioner & projects organiser

I interviewed my friend and colleague Sally Zabroski about her career so far - by day, she is a Projects Coordinator for Unit Twenty Three, a social enterprise and arts firm based in South Norfolk. But by night, she is an experienced Theatre Practitioner delivering projects and youth groups left, right and centre. Here's what Sally had to say!

Want My Job? Sally Zabroski, theatre practitioner & projects organiser

Firstly, tell us your name and occupation - what does it involve?

My name is Sally Zabroski, I'm a Projects Coordinator for Unit Twenty Three and a Freelance Theatre Arts Practitioner.

Since joining Unit Twenty Three at the very end of last year, I have worked on a variety of projects. My role involves on-the-ground planning so that daily logistics of projects run smoothly. This could be anything from marketing, workshop delivery, liaising with schools or organising a tour schedule. I think communication and organisation skills are really important, to make sure everyone knows what's happening, where and when. I see the very conception of a project, right through to evaluation.

As a theatre arts practitioner I work with lots of different arts organisations, running theatre workshops for all ages and abilities, either in a school, community or youth setting. This involves planning sessions, directing productions and working with groups to ensure they are having a creative, enjoyable time. Each workshop or project is unique and can sometimes involve on the spot problem solving and last minute changes.

What's great about your job?

No two days are the same - one minute I might be teaching four year olds pirate songs, the next planning a community arts festival. I get the chance to work with interesting, creative and like-minded people. My main art background is theatre and it's great working with people of all ages to find their inner theatre bug, build their confidence and learn new skills. I think it's important to remember that when you work in the arts you are the audiences' good time – the work you do, whether it's directing a show or running a comedy night, you are making a good time for people to enjoy.

What are the bits you don't like or find challenging?

The late nights and early starts! I think there are always small barriers when working in the arts; funding, opportunities, cuts in education. We can see how important the arts are in everyday lives, but trying to translate this to other professionals can be a challenge at times. Days can feel like an uphill battle, but then you reach the top.

Tell us about some of the projects you work on

I get to work on a very exciting project called Freefall – A Young Carer Never Surrenders. It's definitely up there with one of my favourite things I have ever worked on! Freefall is a touring theatre production, highlighting the life of a young carer in the UK today. My role is to plan the tour schedule to schools and arts venues, contact lead teachers and carer organisations and deliver the talk back sessions in schools. So far the play has reached over 1,800 young people and for some audience members, it has been a real eye opener on the hidden lives of a young carer. It's a fantastic example of how the arts can support wellbeing in schools and for young people. It is something I am proud to work on.

How did you get into an arts job - have you also previously worked outside the arts?

Whilst studying drama at university, I started volunteering with a local youth theatre group – I knew I wanted to teach but didn't know much about creative learning. From this I started working at my local theatre as a youth theatre leader and a job grew from that. I have since worked in different theatres and arts organisations across the country, mainly working with young people and schools. But I would like to explore my own theatre making as a producer and creator. I am also a secret playwright, so maybe one day…!

What are the highlights of your career to date?

I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing theatre companies – The Paper Birds, Frantic Assembly, Told By An Idiot. I love attending networking workshops, where you get to learn new skills and meet new practitioners and theatre makers.

I have directed some fun productions with young people and community groups – seeing individuals strive and progress in confidence over a few months. It's not until you step back from a project or it comes to an end when you realise how much it may have changed an individual or yourself!

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

As a Projects Coordinator I would advise contacting arts organisations to find out about work experience programmes or apprenticeships – try and have a go whilst you are at university or studying, to see what you like about the arts. Get really good at organising and don't be afraid to be in charge of a project, make sure you have project identity – know what the project is for and why you are doing it.

As a theatre arts practitioner, try everything, listen to everyone, see good and bad theatre and then try and make better theatre. Volunteer or assist with local theatres or am dram (amateur dramatic) groups – take yourself seriously and keep learning and picking up skills. I love meeting new groups or other practitioners in the field, I always ask them to teach me new games which you can adapt and take forward.

It's so difficult to know what you want to do when you are younger, and I never ever knew there were so many jobs out there – so have courage and don't be afraid to find out more about the bonkers world of theatre and the arts; take part, get stuck in and keep going, even after the long, long days!

Want more tips on working in the arts? Head on over to Creative Choices, a website filled to the brim with advice on how to get into the arts.


Luke Taylor

Luke Taylor Contributor

I work as the Network Administrator for Voice. Having completed my apprenticeship at Unit Twenty Three, I continue my work supporting Voice and the Youth Network in whatever way possible. Music is my passion, and I will happily talk about all the bands you've probably never heard of!

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