Working for Blackshaw – Radio Producer, Iasha

What is your role at Blackshaw?

My role at Blackshaw is to organise the content and produce our weekly radio show, The Blackshaw Arts Hour, on Wandsworth Radio.

 

What day to day tasks does that mean you do?

Generally my busiest day is a Sunday as that’s the day the show goes out live on the radio. I have to be at the studio about an hour before the show to load the clips we are playing and program all our content. The show goes out live on Wandsworth Radio from 6-7 and I am normally helped out by a co-host or two. I panel (press all the buttons), make sure the sound is going out at the right level and present the content while always keeping an eye on the time (and occasionally forgetting to turn the mics off!)

During the week I email a lot of writers, actors and theatre associated people in order to generate content for the show. I try and have a couple of recordings lined up for the week so that my sound man Andy can have them edited and ready to go out on air at the end of that week.

 

How do you think of ideas for the radio show?

Thinking about what is coming up for Blackshaw is always my first point of call when coming up with content. Interviews and promos for upcoming productions are really easy ways to generate quick radio content and are also great in prmoting Blackshaw to our listeners! The pieces performed at new writing nights are also guaranteed audio entertainment.

Ideas I have found also come from talking to people about the show. Some people have things they have written that they would like to record, and I have obtained a lot of contacts from the people we have had on the show in the past. It has been really nice to hear the positivity from people and their willingness to be involved is a huge bonus.

If you have anything you think would sound great on our radio show, get in touch!  You can reach me at iasha@blackshawonline.com

 

Do you work particularly closely with anyone else on the Blackshaw team?

I work closely with Andy Crane, Blackshaw’s resident sound expert. He’s with me when we records radio plays and interviews and is the one that takes the audio we record away, makes it listenable with his editing prowess, and then sends it to me so I can program it into the show.

Matt Boothman has been with me live in the studio every week from the shows inception delighting us with his wonderfully worded film reviews. Director Ellie is my loyal co-presenter most weeks and Vikki has contributed content and co-presented too!

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the on air presenting side of my job. I had a bit of a break from live presenting but getting back into it this year has been really fun. It’s fantastic working with such a great bunch of motivated and creative people and the support from all members of the Blackshaw team has been fantastic.

It’s also really fun! From hanging out and meeting new people and recording them to being in the studio every week, it has been an absolute pleasure to get this radio show off the ground. It also means I get to see way more theatre than I ever have, which is always nice!

Casting ‘Staying Alive’ & other shows

We’ve got an open casting policy at Blackshaw, which is massively important to our ethos – we love to build networks of new artists, meet new people and ensure everything is fair.

When I was casting ‘Staying Alive’ by Kat Roberts, last weekend, the process we used is tried and tested over the 5 years we’ve been staging shows.

1. We list the job(s) on casting website ‘casting call pro’, and we do our best to let everyone know about the opportunity, by shouting about it all over the internet (our twitter, facebook, website, and newsletter).

2. When the ad closes, I sit with another Blackshaw team member (often casting call pro-pro, Vikki Weston) and shortlist the applications.  This is a pretty long process, but it’s important that we look at every single application, and we do it in stages –

a) The quick once over – this is a cursory glance through each group of applicants to rule out people who look totally wrong for the role (this might be because they’re the wrong age, or have the wrong ‘look’ for any roles which are specific on character’s appearance). We eliminate quite a few applicants in this way.

b) The cover letter check – yes, we read those. If an applicant has tailored their cover letter to the project/role, that really does go in your favour (and yes, we can tell when you’ve copied and pasted a universally-applicable blurb).

c) The CV check – we look at all sorts of things here; previous work, training, showreel, headshot gallery, and role-specific talents (in the past we’ve had roles which need various skills/attributes: a northern accent; circus skills; violin playing, etc).

d) The comparison – once we’ve eliminated people based on role requirements, we compare the shortlisted applicants, and narrow it down to a manageable amount to audition (we usually aim for 5-10 people per role).

3. Organising Auditions – with the experience I’ve gained here, I think I’d make a pretty excellent events planner, PA, Programmer…pretty much any role that involves organising…anything.  This is the stage where we wrangle actors (and their busy lives) into audition slots.  We try to arrange auditionees into groups, as I find you can tell a lot from seeing actors read with other actors – usually more so than seeing them solo.

4. The auditions – Each group has a 15 minutes slot, which is usually 5 mins performance, 5 mins for me to give some direction (I might ask them to switch roles, read the character differently, or something else), and 5 mins for me to gather my thoughts and make notes.  I like to have one or two people on the panel with me – usually an Assistant Director, the writer, or a Blackshaw team member – it’s useful to have a sounding board!

5. The decision – I’ll have a pretty clear idea from the first few minutes of an audition, and will review my notes.  Once you have a shortlist, it’s then a case of working out which combinations of people will work – an actor could be fantastic, but if there’s not another actor which will work as their romantic interest, or teacher, or father (or whatever character relationship we need), it won’t work.  When it comes down to the very final decision making (when you’re looking at a bunch of super talented actors), a lot of it is based on cast chemistry and combination options.

I’m always happy to offer feedback to actors I see audition, and am keen to keep the process as open as possible – we always meet tons of brilliant people at auditions, and I’m so pleased we get people coming back time and time again, whether they’ve been successful previously or not. I like to think it’s because we make the process so darn straightforward.

 

Ellie, Managing & Artistic Director

Working for Blackshaw – New Writing Night Manager, Nicole

Hello all,

this is my first blog for Blackshaw and I thought that I would take this opportunity to tell you all a little bit about myself and discuss my role within the company.  Currently I’m an undergraduate student at Royal Holloway University of London, studying English Literature and Creative Writing – final year so extra exciting and nerve wracking.

It was last September that I took on the role of Administrator for Blackshaw, and what an amazing experience it has been so far!  It is great to be able to work alongside such passionate and enthusiastic people who share a love of the theatre. When they made the offer for me to expand my role within the company I was delighted to become both the Administrator and New Writing Night Manager.

As administrator I get to take minutes at meetings and make sure everyone knows the tasks they have to do, sending them lovely reminders on Trello*.  But I am ever so pleased to be taking over the position of New Writing Night manager from the wonderful Lizzie Cooper.  Now I get to work with directors, actors, writers and many other people to create a wonderful opportunity to showcase new writing in front of a live audience.

I am ever so excited to take on this role, and am looking forward to the next New Writing Night on the 30th September at The Horse and Stables in Lambeth, and hope to see many of you there – it’s gonna be great!

See you there!

Nicole

*Trello is the app we use to manage all the company’s tasks – it’s a giant ‘to do’ list!

NEWS: Events Assistant Vacancies

We’re looking for 2 or more enthusiastic individuals to work as part of the Blackshaw team, to deliver our events.  SO if you’re interested in events management, or theatre, have a looksee.

Here’s the job description.

The Events assistant will support the Events manager with the planning and implementation of various Blackshaw events, with the opportunity to occasionally take full ownership of smaller events. This includes but is not limited to; finding venues, attending event planning meetings, liaising with the Publicity, PR & Marketing (PPM) Team on event campaigns, contacting potential performers and sourcing decor. They will also assist the (where necessary) by staffing Blackshaw’s New Writing Nights.

Please note, as with all Blackshaw team roles, this job is voluntary and part time (flexible according to your other commitments).

To apply, email us at info@blackshawonline.com with ‘events assistant’ in the subject line, a quick word about why you’re interested, and attach your CV.  Then we can arrange to meet up and have a chat.  Fun times.

Here’s another blog about what it’s like to work with Blackshaw.

10 Reasons to Work with Blackshaw

1. It’s FUN – we’re a voluntary organisation so it’s important to us that everyone enjoys working with us

2. It’s great for the CV – any prospective employer would be delighted to see that you’re such a committed and organized person that you volunteer in your free time

3. It’s good experience – there aren’t many places you can avoid the catch-22 of not being able to get experience without having experience. You want to have a go at production management? Great! We’ll sign you up for the next show.

4. You can learn new skills – We encourage people to try something new for the first time, and have experts to support them through the learning process. Have a go at set design, or acting!

5. We have a plan! – Because everyone works on a voluntary basis, it’s important to be organised; we have an online calendar, and shared drive to make sure you can check what’s happening, on the go.

6. We work around your schedule – we arrange face to face meetings where needed, but keep as much on email/skype etc as possible, so you can get your work done at home in your PJs (if you like).

7. The parties – we have a few big social events each year; partly to raise funds for the company, and partly for the fun! If you like dressing up, music, and comedy, you’ll love a Blackshaw Party. Ain’t no party like a Blackshaw Party!* *obscure 00s reference

8. You’ll be a part of a great team – we already have super fun and talented people working at Blackshaw who support and learn from each other as well as collaborating on lots of different projects – you can get involved wherever you want

9. We want to hear your ideas – we love to learn and develop so we’re always up for trying out new ideas, or new ways we can do things.

10. There are biscuits at committee meetings.

Applications are open now for Blackshaw’s Publicity, PR & Marketing Manager.  More details here.