Work Placement Blog - Jemima

In October 2018, we invited Jemima to a work placement at the Gecko office. She kept a diary of what she got up to…

Day One: A day to reflect

Where do I start? I am currently sitting in the office, typing to you (the person that is currently reading this). Anyways I digress, waking up this morning my stomach felt gritty, there was a mixture of nerves and excitement. I hadn’t been for a weeks work experience since my GCSE’s, so this was all new. I must say the moment I stepped into Gecko’s office I was met by nothing but kindness and a real willing to get to know me (as a person). The day started with a chat with General Manager Joff, we talked about our past, the present and future ambitions. We spoke of the difficulties we have faced in the arts and our career influences. It was very eye opening.

Okay, a bit of background – I have just finished my masters and I am going to be honest, this is a transitional period. I have absolutely no idea what my next plan is. For someone who is constantly planning and looking forward this has been a bit of an internal struggle. Am I taking a step back if I move back in with my parents? I don’t have a plan but I need some time to think? Or do I? Perhaps most importantly where do I start?

In fact it wasn’t until today’s conversations with Joff, Mani and Pippa that I had the chance to start understanding the positive things that can come from taking time to stop and think. That perhaps I should see it as a chance to breathe. Just like Gecko who use breath in practice, perhaps I should use it more in day-­to-­day life.

One thing is clear and that is that everyone I have met at the office today has a genuine care and passion for this theatre company. Above everything, there is a genuine care for each other – it is refreshing, and eye opening. * large corporations take note: you can learn a lot from Gecko, just as I am learning.

I will now draw my ramblings to a close, as it is now the end of day one. Today has been a chance to reflect on myself. That is not something I do often, in fact I am sure many of you would agree that in such a fast-­paced world, it is rare to reflect. I look forward to tomorrow – this is a good feeling.

Day Two – Teatime 

It is now day two at the Gecko office. It started as always COFFEEEEEEEEE and lots of tea. I was extremely impressed by the amount of options to choose from. Naturally, I went for Lady Grey I would argue it is by far the best (pause for debate).

I then shadowed Project and Participant Manager Pippa, who was kind enough to share with me the many aspects of her work (from education to invoices to finances to arranging trips for the cast and many more) – it is a very varied role, which requires a lot of organisation. I managed to complete my first invoice, which for someone who isn’t so keen on numbers made me realise that I was actually quite capable. It is these skills that I wish I had been taught at school. Real ‘adult’ skills – I hadn’t a clue about invoices before this week, so I thank Pippa and Mani for taking the time to share that skill with me. I have a feeling it is going to come in useful – it is, after all, a start.

We then went on to have a company meeting. Here we discussed exciting new developments for the website and new performance collaborations and opportunities. It is inspiring to see how expansive Gecko is, with still more ideas to reach new communities. We discussed our relationships with Mind the Gap and Suffolk MindFor me, Gecko is about developing long lasting relationships and opening a dialogue… (I placed the ellipses so you could respond – see what I did there).

Day Three – The future 

“So what will we put in room 101 today?” (Gecko Offices, 2018)

This morning I woke up a little early to explore Ipswich town centre, after making my way through the little cobbled side streets I wandered up to the Gecko offices. It is a very beautiful building positioned next to the park. It feels green and light, this is a nice change from the smoky streets of London that I have become so used to.

I began my morning referencing contacts and putting them onto a file or sort of email register. Gecko has such an extensive list of contacts it seemed like a never-­ending task, but after the first couple I found I got into the swing of it. It was eye-opening to find out just how global Gecko has become. It is exciting and gets my mind ticking about the future.

THE FUTUREEEE…

A scary concept for someone like me, who isn’t quite sure of what is going to happen next. I am still learning and trying to figure this world out. I was therefore pleased to learn in a meeting that despite Gecko being a prestigious company that they would still call themselves fairly new, founded in 2001 by Artistic Director Amit Lahav, they are still learning about the trajectory of the company – it’s all building blocks and new discoveries.

In the afternoon I sat in on a meeting, between Joff and one of the company’s board members Jeanette Siddall. Together we had a very in depth discussion about the current climate of theatre and the notion of restrictions. To round off today’s post here is a fun analogy for you (as always it is up for debate) that came up in our discussion:

Companies are often like traffic.

If all responsibility is given to the traffic light we may only be focussed on getting through before it turns red (hence we may speed up/drive more erratically). Perhaps by taking away the traffic light and implementing a zebra crossing, the responsibility of driving safely is taken from the red light and given to the driver. As a result we may have safer more efficient roads. This is similar in some companies – by being given more responsibilities, we may take more pride in our work, as a result more care is taken.

I don’t know if this is true – but it is food for thought. I leave today thinking about my life in relation to this analogy – it is conceptual, but I think it’s making sense. Anyways it’s late – Good night!

Day Four – Finding my groove 

I am back in the office (I am rather enjoying this routine) and everyone is getting on with individual tasks. I feel as though my confidence is growing, I am currently reviewing some educational resource packs for Pippa. One thing I have found this week is that everyone has asked me for my opinion on different things – I have been made to feel that I can speak up and contribute in discussions. Seeing as this is a place where students also have work experience, it was promising to know that their voice would be valued and they would be encouraged to contribute. It’s something so important for young people in the arts; to feel that their voice is being heard. I say ‘their’ but I guess I am included in that as well, I am still very new despite studying and performing prior to this week.

Before lunch, Mani and I went into town to pick up some flowers and chocolate for the launch of Spill Festival,‘an international festival of contemporary arts and activism’ in Ipswich. I feel I am starting to know my way around, and it is good to see such a wide variety of arts and culture in and around the town.

After tackling the microwave (thanks Mani for your help) I have now been given some time to work on this blog – it is another moment of reflection (I know I sound like a broken record but it really has been so useful, so please bear with me).

Next I observed Mani as he created the banner for The Wedding to be sent out at the bottom of emails. Gecko will be presenting The Wedding at the Barbican as part of the London International Mime Festival with dates running from 24th to 26th of January 19’. It was interesting to watch the amount of work that goes into making a banner and after a few of discussions about colour and sizing – we were pleased with the end result.

After finishing my working day I headed to the waterfront where I got to watch the opening ceremony for Spill Festival. Specifically, The Clarion Call where the ‘voices of women and girls call to the setting sun’ I will add a link below. I must say it was beautiful. It was so great to see such a range of arts and culture in and around Ipswich. Everyone seemed so supportive of one another with a real desire to push the arts in local communities. GO IPSWICH! What a great end to the day.

Spill Festival/Clarion Call: https://spillfestival.com/show/clarion-­‐call/

Day Five – Rounding off

Good Morning from the Gecko office and I am sad to say it is my last day with the team – tomorrow I will be heading on the train for SEVEN HOURS back to Cornwall. It’s okay, I have bought a new book and some snacks, so I think it will be rather pleasant.

Yesterday Executive Producer Roz gave me some background information on Gecko’s past, present and future plans with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and I was surprised to find that there is an awful lot of strategic planning and questioning before taking a show up there (especially when a show is already so well known). I always assumed it was the other way around – instead it is about thinking long term. Where are the performers going to be? How much will it cost? Is this the right time? etc. It was a very valuable and productive conversation and got me thinking about the shows I saw whilst I was there in 2016. *Side note to myself: Jemima go there again next year even if you’re out of pocket – it will be good for you.

This morning is a bit of a catch up session – it is just Joff, Woody (the dog) and myself in the office today. I am spending the morning doing the final edits to this blog, and this afternoon I will carry on with an ongoing task (collating and researching contacts for Gecko). It is a good day way to round of the week and feels like a moment to soak in everything I have learnt.

I am now going to do a cheesy THINGS I WILL TAKE AWAY from my week with Gecko! (Feel free to get a coffee or go to the loo at this point).

  1. Working in an office is about both individual and collaborative tasks – it is important to lean on each other for support.

  2. There are a number of interesting roles within a theatre company – you don’t just have to be on stage to be a vital cog in the mechanism.

  3. Traffic Lights are a great analogy.

  4. If you are worried about moving to a new town to start a job, have confidence in yourself – it might be scary at first, but you will find your bearings quite quickly.

  5. Gecko has some fantastic shows currently touring globally so go and see them if you

  6. Take note of Pippa’s great email system – it is the best thing ever.

  7. Speak up if you don’t know or are confused – we are all still learning and it would be madness if we all knew everything already (and very boring).

  8. The world is a better place to be when we all ‘chip in’.

  9. Don’t forget to have fun and play ‘Room 101’.

As I round off my final day at Gecko I would just like to say a massive thank you to the whole team. You have made me feel so welcome and my confidence has grown massively.

Good luck with the rest of the Gecko year and the start of 2019!

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