unitytheatre


Ever wondered what the Executive Director of a theatre does?
July 11, 2011, 3:50 pm
Filed under: Staff

Sue Williams, Executive Director

Meet Sue Williams, Executive Director at Unity!

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Sue Williams, Executive Director.

I do a bit of everything – look after people, write business plans, apply for funding, set budgets, attend meetings (lots of meetings!), help to make programmes and projects happen, encourage people to have a go and drive everyone in the office mad with my inability to master anything relating to computers and new technology!

How did you come to be at Unity?

I took the long way round!  I set out to be an actor, but found more work doing stage management, tour booking and house management, and one day I realised I was working more backstage than fore.  I’ve worked at the Everyman, Bluecoat and Hope Street Ltd.  Eventually I landed up at the Arts Council, stayed put for a while and then a job at the Unity came up.  I thought it would be great to focus on the development of just one company, applied, crossed my fingers and here I am……lovin’ it!

What’s the best thing about Unity?

People and programme.  Everybody involved with unity gives 110%.  Our staff team are great;

dedicated and real pro’s.  The programme is so unique and surprising, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been blown away by something and amazed by how creative artists can be.  We do take a measured level of risk though and so sometimes you think “what was that?” – but it’s always worth it, as risks are when the moments of wonder appear.

Best show you’ve seen at Unity?

I’ve been here 16 years, so there’s no way I can name a best show!   I’m really proud of our productions of Angels in America and Gold Mountain and I’ve loved all the Tmesis shows we’ve had here.  Despite being an Evertonian, I thought Beating Berlusconi was great and really enjoyed Ovid’s Metamorphoses by Pants on Fire.  Some of my favourite shows have been from our Children’s programme –productions by Fevered Sleep, Lyngo and TPO create such magic that you become completely engulfed by them.

Best show you’ve seen elsewhere?

Best show?  Sorry, it has to be shows and I’d still be leaving loads out!  My first Robert Lepage show Needles & Opium and Complicite’s Street of Crocodiles both left me stunned.  I’m a complete sucker for musicals – all and any, and if pushed, I’d say West Side Story is my favourite, and anything by Sondheim.  More recently War Horse made me cry and It Felt Like A Kiss, a site specific piece for the Manchester Festival last year, had me screaming and running down darkened corridors.  Exhilarating!

What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in theatre?

Well it ain’t easy, that much I do know, but if it’s what you want, you’ll make it happen.

Take every opportunity you can to get a foot in the door, learn your craft, whatever you’re doing.

It doesn’t always have to be formal study, but learn from everyone you work with. Do it with gusto, commitment and a sense of humour.  Enjoy it, soak it up, keep trying.  It’s a pretty insecure world, but also such a good place to be.

Keep checking back to our wonderful blog to meet and greet more of the Unity staff!



Meet the staff! Graeme (Artistic Director)
May 13, 2011, 4:44 pm
Filed under: Staff | Tags: , , , , , ,

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Graeme Phillips and I am the Artistic Director of Unity Theatre!

How did you come to be at Unity?

I was one of a small group of people who set up a lunchtime theatre company in the early 1980’s.  Unity had not been open long, and we often rehearsed there or borrowed from their props and costume store.  I was returning something one day when I heard that Unity was looking for a part time drama worker.  I applied and got the job!  Fast forward, two refurbishments and thousands of shows later and Unity is still here!

What’s the best thing about Unity?

Despite the fact that I book the programme, there is still the tingle caused by never quite knowing what is going to end up on the stage – there have been some great discoveries as well as a fair share of “whoops – how did that get there!” moments.  I work with a great team of people who really focus on presenting the work and the venue in the best possible light.  Also, all the local young artists and companies who have had, and continue to have contact with Unity at some stage in their careers.

Interiors

Interiors

Best show you’ve seen at Unity?

Difficult to choose just one as there are a few that are quite important to me.  The original, mint-fresh production of “Bouncers” where Unity was transformed into a disco for one night, and the place was packed. Lumiere & Son’s production of “Paradise” where I sat transfixed for two nights excited by how thrilling theatre can be and in retrospect the cast were a veritable who’s who of contemporary theatre. The first night of “Fall From Grace” – a one-off, really special piece of epic theatre.

Gold Mountain

Gold Mountain

Bringing off, to great acclaim, seven hours of total theatre in the shape of “Angels in America”. More recently “Gold Mountain” our first international co-production, and Vanishing Point’s “Interiors”, where the concept of telling a series of stories through body language, should have failed but in fact worked magnificently

Best show you’ve seen elsewhere?

Anything directed by Robert Lepage from work at the Royal National Theatre to shows with Cirque du Soleil – when working at full steam he really knows how to create theatre that gets to your core.

What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in theatre?

Be prepared to put in the graft – probably for little reward at the beginning.  Keep open minded – never stop learning your craft



Meet the staff! Rachael (Marketing & Press Officer)
April 15, 2011, 11:34 am
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I’m Rachael and I work as the Marketing and Press Officer for Unity Theatre. I’ve been in this role for about 3 years now, with the 3 years before that spent between Marketing and Box Office. In total I’ve worked here for 6 years!

What do I do?

The job itself is a very busy one – due to the turnover of shows we have on here at Unity – normally about 4 – 5 per week – each one a different genre from the next so if you can imagine the amount of marketing activity for one show and times that by 5! My role includes writing press releases, updating and adding content onto the website, using twitter and other social media forms, managing mail outs, attending meetings and communication with our audience and people who use the building!

I also make sure that my other members of my team are behaving themselves – I am the only girl in our department!

I’m the longest standing member of the team here which means I have the most past knowledge about shows and companies that have visited Unity. I’m not sure if this is always a good thing as it’s questions-a-plenty all the time!

How did you get into the job?

I applied for a part time position as a Ticket Office Assistant many moons ago after I’d finished my Degree.  It’s very amusing because I actually didn’t get the job first time round but then the position became available again after a week or so and Unity were in desperate need of someone to start right away so I said yes. I’m not mentioning any names who didn’t employ me the first time round but he’s now the Marketing Manager at The Empire Theatre, Liverpool (now good friends!).

After working on the Ticket Office for about a year I became interested in Marketing. I took on extra roles in the marketing department such as distribution, organising mailings etc –I would throw my hand to anything! A position came up to cover the Marketing Assistant role so I snapped it up and I’ve been here ever since. Eeek!

What have you achieved since joining?

So much is the short answer! Not only have I learnt many things about Arts Marketing, but a huge amount about how arts organisations work. I’ve been here though the lead up to the Capital of Culture which was so exciting. There was such a buzz beforehand and during in the city. I got to experience many exciting shows, performance and events and be central and involved in it. I feel very privileged to have been a part of such a changing time to the city of Liverpool.

Not only have I achieved lots with the organisation, but on a personal level I’ve had the opportunity to take up different forms of training. I’ve completed the TMA  Druidstones’ Essentials In Marketing course in 2009, been to various AMA conferences and Seminars, First Aid Courses and most recently I completed and NVQ Level 5 in Business Management. Unity have been very supportive in helping me in my own personal development- so thank you!

Best parts to the job?

One of the best parts of my job is given the opportunity to watch some amazing shows. Before starting at Unity I had limited theatrical knowledge (can I write that?).  Another great part of the job is the opportunity to meet so many different people ranging from actors, community workers, workshop leaders, councillors, as well as many other Arts Marketing ‘folk’ from other organisations. You also get another 20 or so Christmas cards (if you’re lucky!!) which is great! I enjoy working with such a lovely bunch of people. We are like a little family here at Unity which I doubt it’s like in many other larger organisations.

Most difficult parts of the job?

I guess the long days – often when there is a press night you don’t leave the theatre until 11pm on some nights. The workload can be heavy sometimes but in the end the result of an audience makes it worth the efforts. The good points always outweigh the bad. I tend to be asked constantly by my friends ‘ when’s that play on?’  or ‘Are there any tickets left???’ In which case I reply – take a look at our website http://www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk

Oh dear did I just end on that?



So, what do the wonderful staff at unity actually do? Meet Sam!
April 11, 2011, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Staff | Tags: , , , ,

Sam Freeman – Marketing Manager

So Sam what are your day-to-day tasks at unity?

My day to day tasks vary massively, essentially I’m responsible for the overall communications of Unity Theatre, so everything from brochures, websites and e-mails to looking at organisational marketing strategy and budgeting. It’s a really challenging job but also incredibly fun. Most people imagine that Marketing and PR are really boring, but it’s increasingly less about marketing to an audience and instead looking at how we interact and provide our audience with a better, more enjoyable experience. We’re often at the centre of discussions within the organisation from an administrative perspective so it’s fast-moving, constant and pretty intense!

How long have you worked at unity?

I’m the new boy at the theatre having been here since June 2010! Previously I worked at York Theatre Royal as Marketing Officer and as Artistic Director for TakeOver ’09.

What have you enjoyed since working at unity?

It’s been great to come into an organisation at a point of development where, because of the cuts, we have had to look at all aspects of both our marketing but also the entire organisation. This creates great opportunity to define our focus, really find who we want to be and look to the future and think ambitiously about what we want to achieve. I’ve been lucky enough to work on some great productions, Gold Mountain as an international co-production with French Canadian company Les Deux Mondes creating bi-lingual print and a massive campaign but also For The Best which got amazing 5 star reviews and meant liaising with 8+ partners. I’m also really lucky to have a great team around me!

Is there anything you would change about unity or your job?

I’m not sure I’d change anything about Unity. I say that while having a Marketing strategy with 9 pages of things to achieve to make sure we’re the best theatre in Merseyside/North West/ Northern England/The World by the end of the plan.. I’m a little competitive and want us to be the best. It’s a job where the phrase ‘good enough’ should never be used. If anyone has any suggestions I’m always happy to listen (or indeed grab a coffee to talk them through)!

Check back soon where we’ll have another unity staff member talking about what they do at unity and what it means to them.



So, what do the wonderful staff at unity actually do?
April 7, 2011, 12:04 pm
Filed under: Staff

Paul Dunbar – Marketing & Distribution Officer

So Paul, what are your day-to-day tasks at unity?

My usual day-to-day tasks at unity are to design and send the weekly E-Bulletin to all 3000+ unity mailing listers, update print in front of house, update website listings and general maintenance of the site, ‘facebooking’ and ‘tweeting’, liaise with distribution companies and carry out distribution across the city, cover box office and liaise with companies who are bringing their show to us regarding print, video content for the web and photos.

How long have you worked at unity?

I’ve been in this position now since October 2009, doesn’t seem that long?! It’s flew by! But I was on an apprenticeship scheme in 2008 called ‘Creative Apprenticeships’ and studied Community Arts Management here at unity for a year, so technically I’ve been here since 2008.

What have you enjoyed since working at unity?

The many different opportunities it throws up and the exciting things that you can get involved with. The unity is a very ‘open-arms’ and ‘broad-minded’ organisation which again, can throw opportunities your way. For example, I had the pleasure of being a part of ‘Upside Down, Wrong Way Round’ in which I lead on creating the music along side ‘Hope Street Ltd Apprentices’ Jen Cattrell and Matthew Groves. This was an amazing opportunity and I’m so proud of what was created and would definately take part in a project like that again at unity.

Is there anything you would change about unity or your job?

To be honest, there have been so many changes at unity already for the better and there are going to be so many more, so there’s nothing I would change about unity or my job. It’s just exciting to see unity flourish again and rapidly get back to where it deserves to be.

Check back soon where we’ll have another unity staff member talking about what they do at unity and what it means to them.