Dundee Rep is often taken for granted by us locals, and we can forget that we are lucky enough to have the only repertory theatre in Scotland, an internationally renowned centre of creative energy and an award winning company, on our doorsteps. Dundee Rep also have a strong educational ethos and is a regular host for practitioners learning and honing their talents, alongside their many youth theatre and community groups which play a vital role in the lives of many local people. So as part of Creative Week here at DYW Dundee & Angus Rachel from the team took the time to interview one of the Reps many members of staff to find out more about what a career in the creative industries is like.
Lisa Williamson works at Dundee Rep as their Participation & Young Artists Associate, part of the Engage department. She grew up in Ardler and got involved in the Rep through joining her local community group as a kid.
- What made you want a career in the creative industries?
I’ve always been involved in the creative industries since a young age. One of the things I like most about working in the creative industries is the freedom you get to be creative and to try different things. I never really considered working in anything else.
- What pathway did you take to get your job?
I did an HNC in Acting & Performance at D&A College for a year before going to university (Manchester MET) to study Contemporary Theatre. After that I got an internship at an Arts Centre in Southampton before coming back to Dundee to work at the Rep. To get where I am took a combination of qualifications and hands-on experience.
- What would you say is one of the best things about working in the creative industries?
One of the best things about working in the creative industries is the variety. No two weeks are ever the same for me. I have the freedom to create and work on my own projects and ideas and that’s what I really like about working in this industry.
- What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about entering a career in the creative industries?
Get as much experience as possible as soon as you can. Don’t wait until after any qualification you do. You should be getting experience alongside your qualifications. Knock on doors, don’t be afraid to ask practitioners to shadow them or volunteer. You would be surprised how many people say yes when you ask. Get experience at your local youth group, at your community theatre. Ask to sit in on rehearsals or in the office. Work as an usher. Get yourself involved. Don’t think you just need a qualification.
- What does a normal working day look like for you?
Every day is different for me. I might be sitting in on technical rehearsals or working in the office catching up on admin and sending emails. It varies day-to-day. But most days end with me leading a youth theatre session.
- What skills would you say are needed for a job in this industry?
Communication, team work and positivity are important. You also need a willingness to go above and beyond when you work in the creative industries. You will get involved in lots of different things and that freedom is great, but you have to go with it. In creative industries you will work with lots of different people and lots of different departments, so you have to have a friendly and positive attitude. You need to be approachable. It is also helpful if you can read and respond to the atmosphere of the room.
- Is there anything else you want to say about working in the creative industries?
It is demanding and you do it for the love, not for the money but it is so rewarding, so fun and so exciting.
Careers in the creative industries are hugely varied, Dundee Rep alone has more than 100 members of staff across numerous departments. This means that there is likely to be a skill, craft, role or career for you. Whatever industry or role you end up in soft skills are essential and can be gained through experience. If you are interested in a career in the creative industries there are lots of different pathways you can follow and lots of information and support available to help you achieve your aims. Just remember to be positive and gain as much experience as you can.