Stephanie, Derby Theatre

Stephanie Cockroft - BA Performing Arts 

“Having been set work assignments and initially working in our own space and receiving really fabulous feedback and criticism has been a great experience in terms of tuning into professional perspective on my work. “

Why did you choose to do your placement here?

The Reimagine 2020 program seemed like a fantastic opportunity. It offered experience to individuals interested in all aspects of the theatre. It included creating a piece of work in which I wrote and devised a 2-minute film about a character I had created, called Mrs Corona. I was selected to work with individuals who shared a passion for writing, as well as leading professionals within a professional working theatre environment. Most of all it was an opportunity to develop writing skills alongside Derby Theatre which is why I chose to opt for my placement here. 

What have you enjoying about the experience?

What I especially enjoyed about this experience is the new working style, …I have received proposals each week and have worked on challenges individually, received criticism, worked some more and then received a new challenge for the same work. I have had the chance to listen to the other writer’s work, receive and offer peer feedback as well as continue to develop my own audio play. We have been exploring how to format plays with appropriate structure for an actor whether the writer is a part of the process or not. In addition, I have enjoyed the trust in writing my own work. 

How did the ‘working remotely’ part of the placement work for you?

At first I was confused about how it was going to work virtually,  and I was a little nervous in working with people online when I am so used to working within a black box studio, open spaces or site specific locations outside. I am a visual learner and enjoy working in spaces where I can move or physically attach action to ideas like writing down on paper and attaching it to walls, or trialling ideas vocally, I like to use my hands when I talk and find it easier to listen to others whilst being in the room. So, I can understand why I felt apprehensive about working with people virtually and it did have some teething problems such as  technical- sound. 

But in an interesting way I think working remotely refined everything, so rather than too many discussions happening, because we were online everything was explored in a sort of ‘brief’ manner. Which meant that more time was had creating and building on these refined ideas rather than spending whole sessions exploring and not having much material. I still prefer to work in the presence of others, and it would have been a completely different experience if that was the case. 

What are the highlights; any particular achievements you want to shout about? 

Highlights include the brilliant criticism and feedback I have been receiving about my written work, I has been so insightful to work alongside professionals who have been so open in suggestions and trusting in my work. Collaborating with other cohorts such as theatre and having the opportunity to hear and read the other writers work has been a highlight. I have scaled the potential and learned lots of different writing styles and voices.  In addition to speaking with professional Nottinghamshire playwright and generally the overall process. 

What new skills and knowledge have you gained?

Throughout the weeks I have gained the knowledge and have had the opportunity to practice refining my work. Refinement has been a long term goal for me in all aspects of writing whether that be academically or creatively and I feel more knowledgeable now that I have particular tools and professional advice in achieving how to refine. In addition, speaking with Jane Upton as well as being provided with links, documents and books that propose ways in structuring work has been a new skill I have developed. Moreover, I have learnt about my own particular writing style and writers voice and so with all of this knowledge on refinement and structure I have developed a skill in criticizing my own work in a way that is in line with my writing style. 

How will this placement help your career?

The work experience I have had with Derby Theatre has bought it home that I really do enjoy writing; in a way I have found my own writing style and above all provided me with the encouragement to continue writing for my own enjoyment but to also  think about writing  professionally. The placement has helped my career in terms of opening my options within a writing career, I have realised how much enjoyment I get from writing for audiences and not just within the confines of a theatre.