Want my job? with Sarah Crompton, freelance theatre producer

"Identify companies whose work you love and ask for a cup of tea with the person who has the job you think you might want. We’re all super busy but we also generally drink a lot of caffeine and are happy to chat"

Want my job? with Sarah Crompton, freelance theatre producer

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

I’m a freelance theatre Producer based in the east of England, working with companies across the South East, London and Europe. I work mostly within children’s theatre, including devised work, clowning, immersive work and outdoor productions. 

What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?

A typical day at my desk could be spent working on building budgets, creating schedules, negotiating and writing contracts, liaising with potential co-producers or developing new opportunities based on whatever shows I currently have in my portfolio. If I’m out and about it’s usually for a trip to a rehearsal room or perhaps to meet a venue marketing team to work on selling whatever show we might have visiting them. 

What’s great about your job?

At the moment I get to travel loads – I’m working on a number of projects which are touring internationally, across Europe and also to the States, and I always make sure I visit as much as I can! I also get to work with many incredible artists – it’s such a joy to get to spend any time in a rehearsal room with any one of the directors I work with. And see the work come to fruition in front of an audience is always a delight!  

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

As I’m freelance I bob between a number of jobs – sometimes the headspace can be challenging, trying to keep many different projects up in the air at once. Being protective of your schedule becomes incredibly important, for both your efficiency levels and your sanity. 

What are the highlights of your career to date?

Touring a show to the Assitej Festival in Cape Town, South Africa, and also programming another piece into a 3 city America tour – definite highlights! 

What was your career path into this job?  Have you also worked outside the arts?

I’ve not really worked outside the arts – I’m sure waitress jobs at uni don’t count… I studied Drama at Manchester but it was through being Chair of the Drama Society that I managed to land an internship with Gecko Theatre and I slowly pieced a freelance career together from there. I actually remember asking the Producer how she came to be in that job – always a great question to someone who has the job you want! You’ll often find it is more random a path than you think. 

Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?

The realisation that, despite working to your best, you are not going to get on with everyone or achieve everything you set out to do – this can be hard to overcome, especially if you feel like you are still starting out (a feeling which seems to last longer than you think it should!). Having people in your industry that you look up to and who support you is key. Sometimes it can be hard to keep perspective so having good sounding boards is invaluable. 

Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what?

The way we deliver work has changed – I think because it has become so much harder to tour. The industry is risk-averse which then has an impact on new work being developed. Funding cuts… a never ending issue! 

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?

School is not forever! Try lots of different things and don’t take anything too seriously. 

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

Identify companies whose work you love and ask for a cup of tea with the person who has the job you think you might want. We’re all super busy but we also generally drink a lot of caffeine and are happy to chat. Face to face meetings can’t be beat when it comes to fostering potentially crucial relationships. And see a lot of work – you don’t know what you like until you’ve tried all the options. Also – just crack on. Not always easy in a financially tight industry but start small and get experience – don’t wait for opportunities to come to you, make them yourself!


Sarah will be at TheatreCraft on Monday 11th November, running a workshop on 'The Producer's Toolkit' - don't miss out! Visit www.theatrecraft.org to sign up.

Header Image Credit: Provided

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe..

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