#CultureMatters: We asked Debs Machin why it does to her
Inspired by the Art’s Council #CultureMatters campaign, we caught up with Debs Machin, a member of the Travelling Light family, to see how Travelling Light and the arts have affected her life and what #CultureMatters means to her. Debs started off her career with Travelling Light through a university placement and is soon to be starting rehearsals as stage manager on our upcoming winter production Snow Mouse at the egg, Theatre Royal Bath.
What was your first experience with Travelling Light?
In 2013 I was in my final year at Bristol University and had to complete a placement with a professional company as part of my degree. Travelling Light were on the list given to us by the Drama Department, and, as I researched their work online, I felt really strongly that it was a company that I wanted to get to know. I was really lucky to spend 3 months with them and 6 others from my course. We were all assigned to a regular Youth Theatre or outreach session (based on our preferences) and then got involved in 2 larger projects: Play in a week at Victoria Park primary school and The Buzz project.
On The Buzz project [A theatre production experience for young arts leaders aged 16-18] I was entrusted with Production Managing the show. This meant liaising with the venue, helping source all the items the Creative team requested and running the weekly production meetings. I had Jo [Travelling Light’s production manager] as a mentor throughout, but it was a brilliant way to experience the responsibility of Production Managing a show and take my first step towards the production side of theatre.
What role has Travelling Light had in your life?
Travelling Light was my first job in theatre after Graduation but it’s so much more than that. They have supported, encouraged and pushed me, helping me to develop new skills and try out things I would never have thought I could! They have also introduced me to the wonderful Bristol Theatre scene and helped me to make connections there. But most importantly they encouraged me to move into Stage Management as a career option, recognising my skills in that area, when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. They have been so key in informing my career decisions at an early stage in my post education life and I am so grateful for their perseverance and support!
Do you have any advice for young people trying to establish a career in culture and arts?
My biggest piece of advice is to make the most of every opportunity and to get as much as experience as possible. If you think you want to act, join a youth theatre and give it a go. If you think you want to work backstage, contact a theatre and see if you can do some shadowing or work experience and find out more. If you’re not sure what you want to do exactly but want to try different things out, follow companies on Twitter, look out for competitions and keep up with what is happening in your local area to see if something takes your fancy. There are so many opportunities and chances out there with brilliant companies but if I have learnt anything it’s that they won’t come to you. Keep searching, keep pushing and don’t give up! If you are passionate about something and give 100% to it then soon people will recognise that and hopefully those doors will start to open all by themselves without needing to be pushed anymore.
We’re looking at the arts council campaign, #CultureMatters, what does that mean to you?
#CultureMatters encapsulates everything I feel about education and experience. I strongly believe that excellent cultural experiences should be accessible to everyone because so much of my early life and memories are formed by cultural experiences, in theatre, museums and music. I think it’s so important that companies like Travelling Light are able to offer the chance to young people to be engaged with culture, showing that it can be fun and crazy; people hear “Culture” and assume it’s some boring, adult concept that is only for old people. Really it’s a way to explore who you are, develop an opinion and taste, and engage with the world in a setting outside of school. Culture is who we all are and cultural activities should match that and make us want to keep coming back for more.
Tell us about Snow Mouse and the role you are playing in that performance.
Snow Mouse is Travelling Light’s Christmas show this year for 18 months-4 year olds. I am Stage Managing the Production so will be in all the rehearsals and then working on the show every day during the run, looking after the props and fulfilling any technical requirements during the performance. We don’t start devising the show properly until rehearsals in Nov so I am very excited to see it all become fully formed!
For more information on the #CultureMatters campaign, have a look here
And for Snow Mouse look here