Christmas Theatre Events

There are a few Christmassy theatre things happening next week that could be described as “networking events”. For better or worse, you get a lot of the work in theatre through who you know so networking is fairly important for a career in theatre. This is not necessarily in a cronyism kind of way, but simply because nobody can hire you if they don’t know you exist or they don’t know what you do.

I am not one of life’s natural networkers and that’s ok – it’s not something I aspire to. In my mind, a good networker is a smooth-talking American business man, bullshitting everyone about how amazing he is and handing out business cards to anyone who looks in his general direction. I’m Irish and I’m a woman – two things that conspire to make me unlikely and unwilling to talk about how great I am. The idea of it makes me cringe.

networking

Through Cultural Freelancers, I found out that I’m not the only who feels like this. I lot of people want to run and hide at the idea of networking. I also discovered that networking doesn’t have to be an ordeal and doesn’t have to involve talking shite about how great you are. It can be about talking to people honestly about what you do and about what they do. I’ve found a new way of thinking about it – instead of “networking”, my aim is to make connections.

Where networking is all about selling yourself, connecting with people is more of a two-way street. Making connections is about finding people you have something in common with, people you get on with and who are interesting to you. It’s just having conversations. You don’t have to talk yourself up but don’t talk yourself down either. Another tip from Cultural Freelancers is to practice your elevator pitch – describing your work in two or three sentences. No bullshit, just who you are and what you do, said in a positive way with no apologising for your own success or down-playing your achievements.

Thinking about it like this makes networking less horrendous. It might help you get work in the future but that’s not it’s sole function. It’s just the social side of business. If we all worked in offices it would be the conversations at break or while you’re waiting for the lift, but because theatre is full of freelancers, we have to go to events to have those chats.

Here are some events to connect at!

TODAY: December 12th – Fringe Elevenses in Fringe Lab at 11am
A general gathering with cake. I’ve been to a few of these and they are well attended, chatty, informal mornings with treats. It lasts about an hour and you can drop in at anytime.

December 15th – Cultural Freelancers – Festive Get Together in Irish Theatre Institute at 11am
This is not a usual CFI meeting with provocations and themes, just food, drink and chats. It’s a nice one to attend as an introduction to Cultural Freelancers or if you just want to talk theatre on Monday morning.

December 15th – Fringe Fuse and Christmas drinks at Fringe Lab, Fringe Fuse starts at 7.30pm and the drinks happen after at 9.30pm
This is a scratch night as well as an opportunity to make connections. It’s also a nice one for those of us who don’t have an office Christmas party to attend. This is the freelancers Christmas party!

December 18th – Theatre Forum’s Tell a Good Story Event at Project Arts Centre, 4pm
I missed last year’s Tell A Good Story so I’m really looking forward to this on Thursday. It’s a really nice way to spend an afternoon because it celebrates the successes in theatre throughout the year, with a wide definition of success. It’s a different crowd as well, usually it’s more companies and less freelancers at Theatre Forum events.

You do have to be a Theatre Forum member to attend but it’s only €25 for a year’s membership as an individual and if you join now, you will be paid up until the end of 2015.

It’s well worth the money. Apart from the annual conference, the other big event is the funding meeting at the beginning of the year which is a great insight into where the Arts Council money is going – it’s a big chunk of information presented in a meaningful way. They also run sessions on tax and being self-employed and it’s another good way to connect with the theatre community.

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Theatrical New Year’s Resolutions

  1. See more dance
  2. I’m not sure if I saw any dance theatre this year but I heard wonderful things about junk ensemble’s Dusk Ahead and Cois Ceim’s Missing and I was sorry I’d missed them. This year I will make an effort to see more dance shows. I’ve chosen a good time to do it too as Dublin Dances into Spring is starting at the end of this month. This is a collaboration between Irish Modern Dance Theatre, Liz Roche Company and CoisCéim Dance Theatre and involves lots of performances happening in venues around Dublin between January 25th and March 22nd.

  3. See theatre in new places
  4. I would love this to include festivals and venues outside Dublin, such as the Limerick City of Culture performances and the Happy Days festival in Enniskillen but I’d settle for visiting a few new Dublin venues too. I only seem to go to The New Theatre during festivals so I like see more productions there and also at Theatre Upstairs. I’m also hoping to get down to The Lir to see a few of their student productions.

  5. Go to more than just performances.
  6. Working with Theatre Forum, I attended members meetings and Open Space events and really enjoyed seeing the performing arts community coming together to share information and talk about difficulties in the sector. Community is important and useful. Even knowing other people are having the same problems are you can help sometimes. I always learnt something new at these events and came away with a new perspective on some part of the arts world. And as the commemorative year of the Lock-Out ends, it’s worth remembering that there is strength in numbers and we need to stick together!

    This year I also enjoyed the Gate’s World Actors Forum, IETM and coffee mornings in the Fringe offices. They were all good for meeting theatre types informally and see that they’re not so scary after all. The theatre world has a reputation for being a bit clique-y and but generally most people are very friendly and willing to chat. Seriously, I am terrible at networking but even I managed to make a few new friends at events this year.

    On a more intimate scale, I started attending the Cultural Freelancers Meetings at the end of September and found them really useful and invigorating. They are designed to give freelancers a chance to talk about their work and the problems they’re facing with a small group of like-minded individuals.

    All of these meetings helped keep me motivated about working in the arts this year. Often they were also great social events! I intend to go to lots more meetings and gatherings of like-minded souls in 2014.