I lived in Wellington for six months before I got any legit work in theatre (by legit I mean not volunteering for festivals, which I had already been doing). The most notable thing, was that the job I had applied for was one that I had absolutely no experience in, and to tell the truth, wasn't even that interested in. (Note: I was applying for multiple jobs a week while trucking away at my retail day-job).
From there on it was a slow incline to steady work. All of my work came from that job, which I am incredibly aware of and thankful for. I met people within the company that suddenly started saying, "Hey, I'm working on another project, would you be interested?"
During the 2016 Fringe Festival, I realised that it was my two-year anniversary of living in Wellington. I also realised that I have finally done enough networking to have constant projects on the go, as well as having many friends in the industry.
My reflections on this time:
- Wellington can be a hard scene to break into. There are many clicks, no matter what we like to think. However, once you've broken into one click, you realise that actually everything is related. My friend from this company is a friend to this person who paints, who dates this playwright, who lives with this costume designer. Smile and wave as you meet all the people.
- Something to accept is that you'll never be rich. You'd better have a back-up savings for when you don't have work. Also, keeping old clothes for costumes can be a clever. The wonderful thing is that everyone is in the same boat. And they will complain about it with you, and they will help you in any way they can.
- When flat hunting, be aware of your proximity to theatres. If you're in production week, you're probably going to be at BATS until at least 10pm. How long does it take to wait for a bus or walk alone at night?
- This is a controversial one, be aware that anyone you date/have relations with/connect with has probably done the same with some of your other friends. This is not a problem, just don't be surprised when the three of you are working on the same production and there's an awkward moment. This scene is incestuous, but mainly because everyone cares about everyone else so much, and let's me honest, who wants to date a muggle?
- Try and find a day-job that can be flexible. Rehearsals can run at any time. I mean ANY TIME. I've been to meetings at eight in the morning before people have work, I've done props runs during my lunch break, and I've finished a nine hour work day to go to a six hour rehearsal. Time management, if you don't have it yet, start learning.
Lastly, and most importantly, have fun. I know this sounds cheesy, but too many of us have burnt out from working ourselves to hard. Know how to say no. Know when you need a break. Look after yourself, because a person is always more important than art