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.