By Emma Cameron
Waiting for the phone to ring.
Ok that’s a bit old school – the reality in 2021 is more like waiting for an email.
As more and more announcements of theatres and productions opening are made, I have been sitting with a nervousness that my phone won’t ever ring with a job offer again. But recently this worry has been overshadowed by a different concern – if my phone does ring do I have the confidence to say yes? Having not been in a rehearsal space, run a tech, or packed a van my brain is working overtime convincing me that I have no skills or experience. I seem to be on a rollercoaster ride of hope and fear. Perhaps I didn’t leave the industry but the industry has left me.
At last weeks FMTW teabreak session a few people shared with us that they had been in rehearsals. One of the group had been back in a recording studio for a couple of days. They were thrilled to be back in a creative space, it had been a really great session and everyone at the end of the day had said how relieved they had been that they both remembered what to do and that they were good at it. It had felt a huge relief to them all. I don’t think I had realised how much I needed to hear that other people felt the same and I hold on to that story when those waves of doubt come crashing back in.
I’ve really found a huge amount of joy in the half hour online FMTW teabreak sessions and I think part of the enjoyment is that it is the closest I have felt to a rehearsal room experience as possible right now. In fact, they often feel like that half hour before a rehearsal starts. As a stage manager I am usually one of the first people in any rehearsal space and I’ve always found it quite a special part of the day, being there when each member of the team arrives, all bringing with them stories of their journey, frustrations of their life, or sharing a silence while they use the space to get themselves ready for the day ahead. It’s being part of a team, like so many of us, that I miss the most and the weekly online teabreaks are the closest I have felt to that. No agenda, camera on or off, chat away or listen in. It’s just a space to be. The range of conversation can include anything, there’s talk of theatre, dance, circus, backstage and onstage as well as wetsuits and flamenco dancing demos. (it was kind of like a royal wave but better). Like in a rehearsal process no two days are ever the same, I always come away having learnt something and they have given me a connection to the industry I was struggling to find.
I’m so glad wellbeing is being talked about more and I hope we see all the changes we crave in the industry. FMTW will be running their online weekly sessions throughout April and I would recommend checking them out. They are fun, informal and free.
And if you don’t feel they are for you that is ok too.
But for right now this is a written reminder, whether you’ve been working flat out, started back recently or like me are waiting for the phone to ring,
You are brilliant.
You are talented.
You are unique
And the freelance community has your back.