Stage Directors UK Research Document (2016-2018)
Competencies: Negotiation, Cognitive Flexibility, Service Orientation, Coordinating with Others
Although I’ve always been interested in combining my professional practice and my passion for improving my industry, I hadn’t been quite sure about how to learn the tools that would enable me to do this. When in 2016 I was given the opportunity to stand for election to the board of Stage Directors UK – the industry body representing and advocating for directors of live theatre – I jumped at the chance. Learning about board structures and how to manage contrasting opinions within a large organisation was a huge step for me. Having to quickly immerse myself in a world of organisational jargon and fiduciary responsibility was at first overwhelming but, as I began to gain more understanding of this new way of thinking, I found that it became easier and easier to move quickly from an artistic way of thinking to a more business-minded system of thought.
This artefact is a joint report from SDUK, The National Theatre, RADA and The Young Vic, and deals with the issue of training for directors – something that has long been an area of interest for me. Although I did not author the report, I asked to be involved in an assisting capacity, so that I could observe the way that our executive director engaged with other large organisations. Over the course of the report’s 2-year creation, I gained hugely valuable insights into several key areas that now directly impact the way I behave in a professional context. In the early meetings especially, there were representatives from different sectors of the industry who had to agree on a way forward, and I learned a valuable lesson from those in charge about keeping the focus on what we could achieve for our members. Not only was expectation management of critical importance, but also ensuring that we kept coming back to the ‘why’ of the report so that we didn’t lose sight of what our membership wanted us to deliver. This now forms the basis of my own professional practice – ensuring that every decision I make is tied directly to the heart of what I am trying to achieve.
Converting Challenges Into Opportunities Course (2020)
Competencies: Service Orientation, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Complex Problem Solving, Judgement and Decision-making
In seeking to contribute to improving my workplace and its processes, I knew that I needed to gain a deeper understanding of how to identify issues and seek to address them. To this end, I enrolled in a University of California San Diego short course in Converting Challenges into Opportunities. I was new to a lot of the concepts, but it did provide me with a number of strategies for improving my ability to interrogate problems, finding novel potential solutions for the problems, and then developing a way to present these solutions to those who would benefit from them.
This artefact is a copy of my final assignment from this course, where I applied the tools I had learned in the course to a real-world problem that impacted my colleagues and I. Taking conceptual methodologies and actually putting them into practice was a huge challenge, and gave me the opportunity to see what was useful in a practical sense. In particular, the focus on anticipating the future needs of my colleagues when identifying possible solutions was a new exercise for me, and I will now incorporate more of this way of thinking in my future work.
Application of Course Material: A Speech
Competencies: Service Orientation, Judgement and Decision-Making, Creativity, Complex Problem-Solving
Following my completion of the ‘The Pitch’ module in this course, I decided to set myself the task of using what I had learned there to create a document that addressed several of the key areas of my professional practice.
Rather than prepare a pitch for myself as a potential employee, I wanted to take the concepts I learned in this unit and apply them to a real world situation where I could embody the core part of my professional practice statement of intent – to make a difference.
Using the framework of 'The Pitch' as a base, I have written a speech outlining a proposal for using artistic practices to soften the sectarianism of Belfast during ‘marching season’. For context, I lived in Belfast for 2 years and was planning to increase my community engagement in the region when I was offered a job elsewhere. I have previously expressed a desire to work with this community in an artistic leadership position, and I intend to make this speech – and the ideas it contains – a key platform in any future application I make.
In writing this speech, I have relied on knowledge gained from the course's teaching of the three persuasive elements of speech: logos, pathos and ethos. By using government statistics to highlight the proliferation of activities designated “sensitive” and the number of those events which had Parades Commission conditions imposed, I am referring to credible sources to lay the ground for my proposal. I also use emotive language to evoke emotional responses in my audience, and rely on rhetorical techniques like repetition and alliteration in some of my descriptions. I am careful to use inclusive language throughout the speech, as the very nature of the problem under discussion is a result of a fierce social divide. I further make use of aspects of Ethos by using the kind of formal language that befits the circumstances of the intended address. By using language appropriate to the conventions of the space in which I will be speaking, I am seeking both to make my argument sound reasonable and rational, and also to position myself as someone who should be taken seriously on the issue.
By utilising the framework of making ‘a pitch’ through the structures outlined by this course, I have created a document that I hope makes up a persuasive call to action. Applying the principles I have learnt of appearing credible and professional in the structure of my remarks, invoking emotional content to connect with my audience, and providing statistics as a basis for my proposal, I have found a real-world application for the content of this unit that supports the central tenet of my professional practice. I look forward to integrating this new knowledge into my practice.