Looking back on it, attending a Performing Arts High School has proven to be a great help when I have had the opportunity to speak in front of large groups at marketing councils and conferences.
There is something about studying performing arts – drama, music, and dance – that gives you untold confidence in many life situations. And when more people fear public speaking than they do death, that confidence can be a real advantage in the business world.
So when I discovered that Emma Meads, a friend that I had met travelling, was a partner in Theatretrain – a company that loves to perform, I knew that it would make a great interview for Maloney on Marketing.
What is Theatretrain all about?
Part time performing arts training for young people between the age of 6-18 years.
How did Theatretrain get started?
It started with one class led by our Artistic Director Kevin Dowsett, and over the past 18 years has grown to 95 centres across the UK and Ireland.
Where did the name “Theatretrain” come from?
A connection between the two things that we do – training in and making theatre.
How is Theatretrain different to other Performing Arts schools?
It specialises in creating annual performance opportunities with a high level of professional support in some of the most famous theatres in the world.
There are three types of performance:
– Locally in regional based theatres
– Nationally in 8 centre shows with 400 pupils
– Also an annual performance at the Royal Albert hall with 1000 pupils
You give your students the opportunity to perform in some of the most famous theatres in the world, including Albert Hall. Why is this important?
We specialise in making large-scale performance that combines drama, dance and singing.
We have found that large-scale performance creates opportunities for us to bring a strong emotion to the work.
It means that we can train our young people to learn the art of ensemble – the being part of something bigger than yourself.
The Royal Albert Hall is uniquely placed to deliver what we do. The connection between the audience and the stage is a special one for creating teamwork between the choir, the arena and the audience.
In some cases attending Theatretrain is cheaper than childcare, do you think parents realize this?
Probably not – but we do not regard ourselves as child minders.
We like our pupils to be enthusiastic, committed and energetic. If they bring that to the work then we can create something extraordinary.
You currently have Theatretrain franchises operating in Britain, Ireland and Wales, and expanding into more international markets. What are the opportunities and challenges this expansion brings?
Opportunities – to engage with the world. We have a strong history of working internationally and have often represented the UK at international and world festivals for young people.
The working processes, although developed in the UK are appreciated in other countries because there are clear guidelines and a philosophy that works in practice. We also encourage countries to join us in our productions. This year we are hosting 150 young people from all the continents of the world.
Challenges – we have to ensure a high level of child protection and financial regularity.
What are the benefits and challenges of using a franchised business model?
Experience and a strong level of support – especially in making theatre. We have a range of documentation including a manual, several instructive DVDs and productions with full and detailed notes. We all sing from the same hymn sheet!
Finally over the years we made mistakes. The franchises have the benefit of all the things we learnt.
How do people usually find out about Theatretrain?
Local adverting, our website, Google, and by word of mouth.
How do you promote Theatretrain?
Trade papers, productions, through the industry and education work.
What’s next for Theatretrain?
A huge show at the O2 Arena in 2012 to celebrate the Olympics for all Theatretrain pupils in one show.