"Part 3/4": We run a theatre company AND...
We've found that one of the biggest misconceptions about running a theatre company, is that making shows is our full time job... we wish!! (broken heart emoji). You've heard us waffle on about the admin work that goes into keeping our small business afloat in previous blogs, but what else do they do? I hear you cry! So we have decided to create a 4 part blog series called 'We run a theatre company AND...', that delves a little into our 4 very different lives.
Part 3: Meet Tom
Job Title: Co-Director of Push To Shove Theatre/ Retail Manager
Hometown: Barnsley, South Yorkshire
Favourite Colour: Forest Green
Favourite Film: Jurassic Park (and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)
Favourite Animal: Dogs (and elephants)
Biggest Fear: Clowns
Favourite Place: Walt Disney World
Favourite Book: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
What/Who is you spirit animal? J.K. Rowling
What first interested you in the Arts?
I have always loved story-telling. From as young as I can remember I would always take a new (had to be new) notebook on every family holiday that I would fill with short stories, long stories, ideas for stories and drawings. My friends and I would play games filled with magic and action and interesting characters. I cannot tell you how many magazine publications me and my best friend started. At school, I would paint and sketch. Sometimes from things in front of me and other times from the stories brewing in my head. My life has always been filled with art, whether that be writing or drawing or playing. Thinking back now, it seems obvious that I would end up here making my own stories but the thing about working in the arts is that it’s a turbulent ride of opportunities, rejection and let’s face it, just winging it! That being said, one of the turning points in my life where I actually thought being a creator could be a career for me was after I was cast as Lefou in my school production of Beauty and the Beast. After a very tight waist-belt, a pair of suede pink boots – yeah, I’m still not sure either – and five shows later, I knew I wanted to be part of this world. Following this I joined my local amateur dramatics and it’s here that I discovered I could dance. I had rhythm, yay! And I completely fell in love with how movement could tell its own story much like a pen on paper or a paintbrush on a canvas. I think I’ve always been interested in the Arts; it has always existed in every part of my life and through a combination of seeing, doing and exploring my own creativity in every aspect of my life, I found my way here.
What other work do you do besides Push To Shove?
Alongside my Push To Shove commitments, I fill my time with a variety of other things. First of all, I currently work full-time as a retail manager. I’ve been in retail since the very first moment I could get a job and it has stuck with me through thick and thin for the past ten years (yikes!). And while retail isn’t my long-term career goal, it has given me perspective on a lot of things in my life. It’s increased my tolerance for patience; how to deal with a funny combination of personal and professional problems; how to organise myself and my team and how to develop a work/life balance. On the complete other hand, like it might as well be someone else’s, I am an aspiring writer and book blogger. I have always loved reading and as I said above, writing stories has always been something I have loved to do. Due to my passion for books, and a need to pour creative energy into as much as possible, I also curate my own book blog on Instagram and host the YouTube channel, tomtalksbooks.
How do you think your other work influences Push To Shove?
Being a manager will always have its place in a company, and even in a company that fully shares the responsibility of what they create, it’s important to be able to use problem-solving skills and organisation in both the creative and administration sides of Push To Shove. Leading a team is a big part of my job and this transcends into the theatre company when delivering workshops or working with associate performers. I truly believe having a level-head, being enthusiastic even when things are tough and following through on the tasks and goals set have a big impact on the overall productivity of a company and my role as a retail manager definitely informs these factors in Push To Shove. In terms of writing, there is a discipline to see a novel through from the embryo of an idea to a finished draft and not let too many obstacles get in the way. This drive to get words on paper definitely helps me make movement material for the shows even if half of it, sometimes all of it, gets cut or reworked. The idea that having something to work with instead of having nothing is one of my strongest beliefs when it comes to anything creative. Finally, having set up tomtalksbooks across multiple platforms, I have learnt through trial and error how to engage with social media algorithms and enhance impressions across different tools. This knowledge helps Push To Shove to work with our audience on social media as well as how to use these platforms to further our reach. I’m not saying I’m a technical expert but I can tell you that the best time to post on Facebook is Friday dinner time.
I think, as young people, we are often expected to follow a certain route or choose a specific career as early as possible and I have found that for me, this doesn’t work. I’ve enjoyed learning skills as I’ve moved through life. I like to see the opportunity, the outcome and the reward in every activity, job and experience I take part in. It is this that has informed my current role in Push To Shove and in the dreams I see for myself in the future.
There is experience in every opportunity, and opportunity in every experience.