Theatre Practitioner and Parent

Name: Jo

Job Title: Creative Learning Manager

What exactly is that?

I look after all the community engagement, workshops, devised theatre, schools activities and a whole bunch of other stuff for an entertainment venue in the South East of England. I’m a theatre practitioner, and I programme work too, choosing what shows we present in our studio theatre.

How did you get there?

I studied English lit, history, philosophy, theatre and performing arts at A-level and did a degree in English Literature and Theatre Studies at the University of Leeds. I love stories and that’s what my job is really about, finding the best ones and telling them really well. I did an internship at York Theatre Royal as well as working three other jobs and then got a job in Lancaster as Education Practitioner, training with a really exceptional director and teaching youth theatre. I then moved to the south, heading up a creative learning department in an arts centre, and moved again 3 years later to the role I’m in now. I’ve performed, directed, written shows, made puppets, sung songs, and mentored many, many young people who also love the arts.

Describe a typical day in your life

So I get woken up by my toddler at about 5:45 usually when he gets in our bed. My husband will usually get up with him, then I’ll get out of bed at 6:45, take a shower and get dressed. My partner leaves around half past 7 for his job in London, so I get our boy dressed and into his shoes, usually whilst watching an episode of Spider-Man, and then we walk to nursery up a massive hill. I drop him off at about 8:25 and then walk the rest of the way to work, arriving for around 8:50. I have cereal and tea at my desk, check my email, deal with anything that’s worth doing quickly and then update my to do list, which I keep as a word document that constantly updates.

This week I am doing programming for the Autumn (it’s May), so I look at what spaces I have to fill and send some emails to confirm shows that I am interested in presenting. I also contact tutors for our October half term workshop series to make sure they have the dates available and start pulling together copy and images for the brochure together. I have another cup of tea, then often I have meetings, today about a family day of free events coming up in May half term. I proof read the annual business plan at the request of my boss (I’m on the senior management team), get about halfway then go and have lunch with my friend and her new baby.

In the afternoon I book rooms for some schools projects I have coming up, book an actor for a week of rehearsals ahead of a piece of immersive theatre I’m writing for our partnership primary school and think about the structure of the piece.

I leave promptly at 5 to pick up my son, who gets upset if I’m not there to pick him up at the same time as his friends. It’s difficult never being able to work late, even if I need to but my partner doesn’t get back from London until 7:30pm, so I do every drop off and pickup. It’s hard work physically and I do a lot of domestic thinking – what we need for the house, where the toddler or the family are supposed to be and when etc. I pick up my son st around 5:40, talk to his key worker about his day. My friend’s little girl is also at nursery so often we walk home together and go for a cups at one house or other. If I go to hers, the kids will play while we chat, then I will walk home around 7, with my son in the pushchair. Sometimes we stop to feed the ducks. When we get home, he’s usually quite tired so we will cuddle on the sofa and watch Paw Patrol, or lie on the floor and play cars. When his dad comes home, he will run a bath and one of us will bath the kid and read him a story while the other makes dinner. We watch a couple of episodes of something, or a film, while we eat and go to bed around eleven.

What’s the best thing about what you do?

People! I love working with people and the variety of experiences I get doing my work is great. I’m really passionate about theatre as a great and communicative art form, so sharing that excitement and a really good story is what drives me.

What’s the one thing you would change if you could?

The pay. I’m quite senior but I earn £26 000 a year which is about £1500 a month. After rent and childcare this means I have very little money. We have to spend very carefully and living in the south east is very expensive!

What did you want to do for a living when you were at school?


Tell us about something you were insecure about when you were at school

I was always worried that I was a bit nerdy and not cool. Now, I am definitely nerdy but it’s one of the things I like most about myself. Passionate people are more interesting!

What advice would you have given yourself at 18 if you could?

You picked good friends. Try not to worry so much what other people think. Don’t date people who are dating other people.

What’s your favourite thing to do in your spare time?

At the moment, sleep! That’s because I have a small child though. I like to do swing dance, see theatre and hang out with my friends. Not much different to when I was 18!

What’s the title of the last book you read?

I’m halfway through ‘The Night Circus’, which I read while I sit with my son as he goes to sleep. It’s great!

Give us one beauty tip you have learned


Please share with us one money tip

Set up direct debits for all your bills. It’s so much easier than trying to keep track of it all yourself.

Please share one life lesson you have learned

Love hard and never be ashamed of yourself for it. Even if people don’t love you back, or share your enthusiasm for something, you never regret love.

Tell us about your favourite recent purchase of £25 or under

I bought a dress on eBay for £3. It’s vintage 80s-does-fifties in cornflower blue with a black leaf pattern and it fits like dream! I love it.

Where can people find you online for more details?

@jowright84 will find me on Twitter

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