On being a Globe Education Assistant.
Our Globe Education Assistant roles offer school leavers an exciting opportunity to gain invaluable experience working in a leading arts organisation. Through supporting the daily activities of the Education department for one year, they develop key skills in administration, communication and team work in a supportive environment, and make a valuable contribution to the work of the Globe.
Here Dorothy McDowell, a Globe Education Assistant in the Learning Projects team, talks about her experiences on the programme this summer.
In my last two years at school, I switched my choice of degree subject once; country of study twice; and actual university roughly every hour, on the hour – but the idea of a gap year never seriously occurred to me. I like drama, I like books and I like writing: it was university or bust. Then, in the middle of my sentence of death-by-prolonged-study-leave, my mother suddenly turned round, job advert column in hand, and said:
“Would you fancy working at the Globe Theatre?”
The answer to this was an unequivocal ‘yes’ – I come from a small village in rural Northern Ireland, and anyone familiar with small villages in rural Northern Ireland will tell you that the nearest thing they have to an arts industry is a country-and-western tribute act, and a slightly contentious marching band. So, I threw my mind back to summer holidays spent standing in the rain at arts festivals trying to persuade visitors not to touch the cows; raked up a few anecdotes; and applied.
I then spent the next month determinedly telling people that I didn’t actually expect to get the job and I just thought it would be funny to apply, okay? This became slightly more challenging when I got an email inviting me to a Skype interview; followed by a second invitation, to fly over to London; and finally a phone call telling me that I had got the job. I am now the proud owner of the title of ‘Globe Education Assistant – Learning Projects (Community)’; I have a place at Oxford; I have seen 38 shows since September; and if you sit still for long enough I will recite a brief performance history of All’s Well That Ends Well at you.
When people ask me what my job entails, I find that the best approach is to check that they don’t have anywhere urgent they need to be before starting in – it is too varied for me to be able to promise that I’ll finish in time for someone to catch the next bus.
Some days I type up so many spreadsheets that I am able to astound all beholders with my encyclopaedic knowledge of the differing views on Oberon as held by the under 5s; other days I find myself requesting that someone mind this drum while I go to the basement to look for some confetti and a lion mask.
The project that’s uppermost in my mind at the moment is ‘Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank’. In the course of the pre-show marketing I called and spoke to almost every Special Educational Needs school in London, helping to increase the number of pupils with special educational needs who were able to attend the show. My role during the actual run of the show was to hand out programmes to the assembled school groups – a job which began with a radio call that could be roughly translated as, “More children than you can possibly imagine have just arrived on the Southbank” and ended with me running up and down Bankside in a high-vis jacket.
But my absolute favourite bit of the job is the Southwark Youth Theatre. I am their Company Manager, and spend Saturday mornings alternating between joining in with their drama games (at which I am unforgivably terrible) and trying to work out the most dignified way to carry three drums and a life-sized throne up a flight of stairs.
I am not, I must confess, a huge fan of overflowing sentiment. There is much to be said for the sight of children who have never been in a theatre before standing onstage in A Concert for Winter, or for classes of teenagers cheering for Beatrice and Benedick; but I will always try to avoid saying it. But I will say this: ten months ago I had never set foot in the Globe theatre. I am not intrepid; I am not well-connected; I had never had a job before. I applied for this on a whim; something I would like to do, but something I did not stand a chance of getting.
Two months later, I stood on the banks of the River Thames – with the moon rising in the background, and St Paul’s reflected in the water behind me – looking up at the most beautiful theatre in the world.