Written by Orla
Thursday 9 April 2020
My experience working with Cheek by Jowl has truly exceeded my expectations. Looking back over the past three months, I feel so privileged to have been given the opportunity to work with this incredible company. I have learned so much, gained important industry skills, and made great friends!
From the first day I stepped into the Cheek by Jowl office at the Barbican Centre, I was immediately treated like an important member of the team. I was fortunate to work in a number of different areas from the start. This varied from administration and finance, to marketing and social media management, to researching and assisting on projects and events. I learned how to create newsletters, manage invitation lists and even how to use basic Photoshop. The Cheek by Jowl team were always open to any questions or ideas that I had and my experience with them allowed me to see first-hand the hard work and attention to detail it takes to run a successful international theatre company.
Being included in the weekly team catch up was a particular highlight for me during my internship. Through these meetings, I got a real insight into all aspects of what my colleagues’ jobs entailed and the challenges they face and overcome in the day to day running of the organisation. As an arts management student, I found that a lot of what I learned during these meetings corresponded well with my studies and it has even informed my approach to some of my university work. I will certainly miss our weekly catch-ups beside ‘the fire’ now that my time with Cheek by Jowl has come to an end.
Perhaps the most exciting week of my internship was when The Revenger’s Tragedy, Cheek by Jowl’s first Italian show and co-production with the Piccolo Teatro di Milano came to the Barbican Centre. I was completely blown away by the production and was so proud to have played a small role in making it happen. It was a pleasure to meet the incredible cast and crew from Italy and to spend time getting to know them over the week. I was also delighted to meet Cheek by Jowl’s dedicated supporters and the Barbican staff with whom I had been in contact in the weeks running up to the show. While working at the weeks’ events was a busy and exciting experience, I was fortunate to sit in on several talks and workshops with the company’s Artistic Directors too. I was completely inspired by Declan’s words at the Emerging Theatre Makers’ Talk and amazed at Nick’s fascinating stage design and behind the scenes tricks at the backstage Patrons’ event (THAT torture chair!)
Of course, due to the unprecedented times we currently find ourselves in, Cheek by Jowl’s work and working situation changed drastically following the closure of theatres across Europe and government guidance for workers to stay at home. Though this was a hugely disappointing time for the company, with many shows cancelled, the team dealt with the unfolding situation with incredible dignity and grace. The collected and cool-headed way with which my colleagues addressed each setback was an excellent learning experience for me, and I believe one that I will reflect on throughout my professional career.
The Cheek by Jowl team have been so incredibly kind and generous. I can’t thank them enough for the insights and training they have provided me with during my internship. Each member of the team shared so much knowledge and experience with me, which has helped to make me feel confident and ready to take the next step in my career. I still can’t quite get my head around how a company of their international status and success is run by just five people (!) but I can see now that with hard work, a great team and a few laughs along the way, anything is possible!
(P.S. Learning about Mani’s favourite towel was by far the highlight of my time at CBJ, if not my life xoxo)