Post written by: Erin Walcon
There are times doing this research when I am surprised - pleasantly gobsmacked by the complexity, richness, and depth of the work which is happening. This happened to me last weekend - when attending the NODA SW Workshop Weekend in Torquay, I found myself floating between three different workshops: Musical Theatre (with Ian Goode & Dane Preece), The Actor and the Text (with Ben Crocker) and Marketing (with Ian Goodenough & Graeme Savage).
What struck me, as I explored the opulent interior of the Palace Hotel, en route to each workshop room, was the quality of the workshop material. Ian & Dane immediately put the musical theatre group at ease, establishing an environment where everyone was comfortable trying out a bit of song-and-dance, whatever their experience level. In the Anstey Room, Ben Crocker challenged the group by giving them texts which required a larger-than-life presence and a gritty realism. (Think Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist, for example).
And in the marketing session, Ian & Graeme gave a masterclass in marketing - everything from flashmobs on youtube to social media organisers to where to source the cheapest printing. I found myself staying in the marketing session, jotting down notes about marketing tips and perhaps more importantly, about the realism of trying to market amateur performance. As many of the participants said, it can be difficult (in some settings) to convince your amateur company that posters and flyers are necessities - and your committees that Twitter is a useful tool. Both Ian & Graeme work professionally in marketing, and their expertise from their professional capacity enriches and cross-feeds their love for amateur work.
I left the day, feeling warmly welcomed by the SW NODA team - thanks to Lynne and Fred Caygill especially - and honoured to be there. I learned a lot, not just about marketing (which I certainly did!) but also about the sheer business sense which operates, largely unrecognised, within the amateur sector.