Travelling Light Theatre

Travelling Light Theatre has been offering work experience for a number of years and currently offer a full week programme with Arts Award. Following on from the success of this model, Lizzy Cummins has been collaborating with RIO and other cultural organisations in Bristol to create a working group to share practice.

“I’ve had a really good relationship with RIO since I started. Setting up this work experience working group has been a really positive experience. Hopefully, it can be used as a model of best practice for other Cultural Education Partnerships.” Lizzy Cummins, Creative Learning Officer.

Travelling Light Theatre Company has been offering work experience for a number of years. As a small company, it was difficult to ensure all departments could spend meaningful time working with the students when placements were given on an ad hoc basis. So Lizzy explored offering two week-long annual programmes. One with their existing partner school, City Academy and one drawing pupils in from around the region. This included home-schooled students and pupils from Bristol and Bath. Twelve pupils aged 14-18-year-old took part.

During their placement with Travelling Light, students were tasked with pitching a new piece of theatre for children. All the skills learned in workshops with the different departments culminated in a presentation on the final day. It included a fundraising bid, budget, marketing plan, a strategy for design and a plan for the show detailing how to produce and tour it.

Following on from the success of this model, Lizzy worked alongside RIO and other cultural organisations in Bristol to create a working group to share practice.

Within the partnership, Travelling Light has shared its expertise, paperwork and resources. Lizzy says she is keen to expand on this and bring Bristol cultural organisations’ work experience offers together. “If many of us are doing it in the same week, could we go to the SS Great Britain or to the Bristol Old Vic and all our students watch the show together? Or have some space where all the students go at the end of the week to celebrate their Arts Award?”

Lizzy says the Arts Award has been another success of this year’s programme: “I think it’s an exciting part of the offer that they get to come away with a qualification at the end of it.” Lizzy continues: “One of our students has now started a course at Central School of Speech and Drama and is doing a degree in applied theatre.”

The programme has also sparked innovation, with video applications now being accepted. “We’ve found this makes the application process more accessible. A massive part of what we do is talking and communicating with other people. We’re sharing stories, either through our touring theatre or with the young people that we work with. That’s something that we want to encourage and support – so that young people have the confidence to be able to do it in an application, as well as in their day to day.”

One week of Travelling Light’s work experience coincided with the recruitment of a new member of staff. Lizzy says the students were closely involved and it’s something they hope to continue to do: “Two students from the group were in on every interview. They asked questions, they met the candidates and we all had lunch together. From the feedback, that was definitely highlighted as one of the most enjoyable parts of the week. The person who has now taken on the role said it was a really useful part of the interview process.”

Lizzy says work experience can be a very positive experience: “When you realise what you can gain as an organisation, you can learn a lot as a workforce from having work experience students with you.”

Lizzy Cummins is the Creative Learning Officer at Travelling Light Theatre Company. For more information about Travelling Light’s work experience programme and other school offers visit: http://www.travellinglighttheatre.org.uk/take-part/schools/