Canberra Youth Theatre (CYT) has an extensive history spanning over 45 years and has worked with young people across all aspects of theatre and production during this time. Engaging with our Alumni is an important part of our operations, particularly inviting these practitioners back to CYT to work with our young artists in workshops, classes and performances. We are excited to welcome back playwrights, poets, actors, directors and designers, providing a valuable pathway and ensuring our young people see that a career in the arts is a viable and rewarding option.
Before joining CYT in 2016, I was in my last semester of a Bachelor of Arts at the Australian National University, majoring in History and English. I had very limited experience in theatre (only taking one high school theatre class), however I have always had a great interest in the production side of performing arts. I wanted to do this course to see whether theatre might be something I would be keen to pursue as a career or hobby.
With this in mind, I joined CYT’s Technical Theatre Workshop to learn the basics of theatrical lighting, sound design and stage management. As well as attending weekly classes with industry professionals, we were given key roles in two of CYT’s productions. I was approached by the artistic director, Katie Cawthorne, to be the stage manager for The Verbatim Project. At first reluctant to be entrusted with so much responsibility, I soon realised that I thoroughly enjoyed the role and, once The Verbatim Project had finished, I asked to stage manage the next production – The Greek Project: Antigone.
By the end of the course, I had stage-managed two shows, and acquired solid knowledge of how a theatrical production goes from an initial idea right through to opening night. But the benefits of attending CYT didn’t stop after the course was over – Katie told me about a course in theatre production that she thought I should apply for. She provided advice and guidance on the application process, and this is what undoubtedly clinched me the spot. Thanks to the amazing people at CYT, I am now studying stage management as part of a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Production) at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne.
I found my time at CYT to be particularly valuable because it helped me realise that I am capable of handling bigger tasks and much more responsibility than I had ever thought possible. The tutors encouraged us, believed in our abilities, trusted us and treated us like professionals. I am very grateful to have had this experience and would recommend it to anyone interested in theatre and what goes on behind-the-scenes.