work-placement

Work Placement Blog - Bethany

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In May 2019, we welcomed Bethany into the Gecko offices for a work placement. Here is her week, in her own words…

I arrived in Ipswich on Tuesday 27th of May after an hour-long journey from home (Essex). I was greeted by Hugh and Sarah, a lovely couple I was staying with during my placement, who live a fifteen-minute walk away from the Gecko Office- ideal!

I’m currently in my second year at Falmouth University studying ‘Theatre and Performance’ (BA Hons) and hope to build my own theatre company in my third year. This placement has helped me better understand the mechanics and administrative tasks that running a theatre company requires, and therefore, could not have come at a better time for me!

Before arriving at Gecko, I was filled with a mixture of nerves and excitement but was immediately put at ease by the friendly and welcoming staff at Gecko. I was given a tour of the office, a cup of tea and was introduced to everyone. I spent my week with Manwah (Mani) Siu, Administration and Digital Marketing Officer, Steve Allman- Head of Operations and Development and Pippa Fox- Projects and Participation Manager.

During my placement, I was given a variety of tasks such as reading over Gecko’s marketing pack for ‘The Wedding’, updating Gecko’s local school spreadsheet, attending a Marketing Meeting with Mani at Ipswich Town Hall, providing feedback on Gecko’s website, promotional videos and more. I felt like I was given genuine responsibility as a co-worker in the office and was able to ask any questions I liked.

This summer some of my course mates and I have formed the theatre company ‘Solo Theatre’ and are performing our show ‘Fragments’ as part of the Camden Fringe Festival (2019) and the Exeter Fringe Festival (2019). This placement was incredibly useful for gaining advice surrounding the administration tasks for taking performances touring to different venues. I had opportunities to talk to each staff member one to one to find out what their role is like and ask for specific information that will help my future career and upcoming festival projects. Pippa helped me explore Gecko’s SharePoint- this was incredibly useful to see how all their masses of documents and information is orgainsed. Mani provided me with really helpful advice on Solo Theatre’s social media accounts and marketing whilst Steve showed me spreadsheet examples on Excel and taught me how to operate a spreadsheet for my festival projects!

On my third day, (which was a sunny one), Amit Lahav dropped into the office, we sat outside, and I was able to ask questions surrounding the formation of Gecko, his artistic vision and if he had any advice for young theatre makers over a cup of tea. I felt very lucky to have had this opportunity and was left feeling inspired.

To end my Gecko experience, I took a trip with Steve and Pippa down to where Gecko’s new building is likely to be situated and was able to have a look at some of Gecko’s prop store in Ipswich- exciting! Before having some cake, and yes- more tea, to say goodbye.

This placement has been everything I hoped for and more- would definitely recommend!

Work Placement Blog - Natalie

After a hefty 6 hour journey from Exeter to Ipswich, I was warmly welcomed by my lovely host Maggi and the magnificent Milly (her dog), who I stayed with during my time at the Gecko Office – highly recommend her place!

I had just finished my Drama degree at the University of Exeter, and a placement at the Gecko office was the ideal way to help transfer into the professional world of theatre.

My week started off with learning about the different members of the Gecko Office: they shared their array of career paths and the work they do for Gecko. I also had the opportunity to learn about the exciting plans Gecko have for the future in their business plan. This included how they hope to improve further as a company and expand various projects in Ipswich, the UK and internationally. What stood out for me was the ethos of Gecko as a company, which filters into how they support staff, artists, collaborators and their ambitions.

I shadowed both Mani and Pippa engaging with the work they do within the company. Mani guided me through outlets Gecko are using to build their online presence. We looked through the Gecko’s website to see how it could improve and be more accessible. However, it was also about maintaining Gecko’s unique voice throughout. I understood how to incorporate this voice when Mani and I wrote a Facebook post and tweets together for Gecko’s social media pages.

Mani and I created interview questions with Joff about how he was settling into his new position as General Manager of Gecko. I edited this and designed the blog post, which we tweeted out later that day. This also helped me learn about web design, and I found an unexpected meticulous side to me!

When shadowing Pippa, I attended a meeting with her to discuss Gecko’s process and outreach work with an Executive Producer from a Bombay Drama School. Gecko do a lot of work for schools and colleges, and Pippa needed some more information about various school and college syllabuses. So I did some research on what exam boards in the UK and the International Baccalaureate have Gecko named as an exemplary company. This gave a better idea of which exam boards use Gecko and a general idea of all the structures for different exam specifications for Drama, Dance and Performing Arts. This will hopefully help with the future work Gecko do in their education projects.

On my final day, I sorted through the office’s store room, removing props to transfer to storage. I filed all the archival pieces from previous shows and gave the paperwork a re-jiggle. When dropping off the Gecko items, I got a tour of the vast New Wolsey theatre storage space which included seeing a huge elephant puppet being built from willow, which was beautiful! While driving around Ipswich, Joff shared more about the potential spaces Gecko may move into, which was so exciting to hear about the process and the possible outcomes from Gecko having a space of their own.

My final job was to decorate the office! Using loads of Gecko posters, I pinned them all up to try and make the Gecko Office a bit more personal to the company.

I’ve had a wonderful time in the Gecko Office and the placement came at a pivotal time in my career after finishing university. Having just been offered a job the week after, I shall be taking all I learnt about how to successfully run a theatre company and to navigate the professional arts sector.

Work Placement Blog - Iona

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I headed down to Ipswich on a brisk February morning, not sure quite what to expect at the end of a very, very, (very, very, very) long journey from The North – only to find a lovely house to stay in – complete with ADORABLE dog, and an office full of wonderful people to meet.

My first day at Gecko was a chance to get settled in the new offices, (that were new not just to me – but to the whole team) and get to know the people working behind the scenes on the day to day running of the Gecko company too. I spent an interesting morning with Joff and Mani finding out a little of what had led them to their career in the arts, as well as spending a lot of time talking about art, theatre and writing in general, and of course about Gecko itself! I was encouraged to ask questions and to learn from the bank of experience each member of the team had and was hugely inspired and encouraged by hearing such varied and different creative stories. Later in the day, I was introduced to my true challenge of the week – organising and taking inventory of what had become a little bit of an unofficial store room within the offices, with a view to making the space more suitable for human habitation at some point in the future! The job was perfect for me, as a keen organiser and spreadsheet formatter!

As the week went on, I continued with my store room reshuffle (something I got very into), as well as spending some time learning about the importance of social media and engaging with a wider audience on various platforms – even being able to lend some insight into the world of YouTube as we considered how the company’s channel could be developed to bring in a larger online viewership. We also spent a surprisingly long time crafting a Valentines Instagram post – something I was amazed was so difficult to get right, as a person who will openly admit to “Instagramming” way too much!

I spent a day sorting through the incredible (and expansive) collection of set, costume and prop elements that Gecko holds in storage, implementing the same cataloguing system I had developed for the store room at the offices to help organise this much larger space. It proved to be a huge undertaking, and a truly unique one – never before have I had to take inventory of a varied selection of plastic dolls in the same stroke as a collection of assorted musical instruments! Nothing else could have given such an insight into the delightfully eclectic creative process behind every Gecko show.

Throughout the whole week, I was made to feel welcome and involved – even when it came down to things like contributing in meetings, working through problems in the office, even to giving an opinion on artworks brought in by a local artist (Amazing!). I was able to apply myself to the tasks I was given knowing I was genuinely contributing to the work of the office and so went home each evening feeling satisfied and accomplished, having had full day of interesting conversation and company.

I finished off a fabulous week by seeing Gecko’s newest show, The Wedding at my local theatre, the Playhouse in Liverpool. The show was sensational, and my experience getting to know a small number of the people who contributed to the creation of it made me feel even closer to the action and gave me a massive appreciation for what had gone on to bring something so complex to life.

What a satisfying way to end my Gecko experience – rounding off a week full of adventures I will definitely continue to draw upon as I continue to pursue my own career!

To find out more about how you can apply to work experience at the Gecko office, please visit our Work Experience page.