Swan School: Work Experience Diaries

From 3 – 6 July 2023, we were joined by four students from The Swan School in Marston for a week of work experience. The group sat in on rehearsals, created props and built set for our youth theatre summer showcase, and learned lots about the running of an arts centre. Here’s what they got up to, in their own words:


“When I first applied for work experience at The North Wall, I expected it to be really fun and enjoyable. The experience was extremely insightful, and it showed me how many people work for an arts centre. All of the staff were super friendly and sociable, and they also made my experience a lot more enjoyable. I learnt skills that I could use to interact with people I didn’t know, and I will definitely take these abilities into my later life in a work environment. Throughout the week we did many tasks that I really enjoyed. For example, the department meetings with most of the staff really opened my eyes to the overall running of the arts centre. We had the opportunity to sit in on a read-through of a new family musical, Rosie and Hugh. This meant that I could see the way a new production came to life which I loved! The YouthLab projects were also running a technical rehearsal that we got to make props and set design for, as well as attend their tech run and give them feedback. I found working with young children with YouthLab often pushed my patience, but the overall experience taught me to overcome this challenge. Seeing everyone’s passion for their jobs has made me consider a possible career in the arts as well; I have had a passion for theatre since I was quite young so I think I would really enjoy a drama degree at university in the future. The whole week has been really interesting and informative and a huge thank you to Abie who organised all of the activities we were lucky enough to do over the week! I have made so many new friends and memories over the week that will stay with me for life.” 


“During my work experience at The North Wall I have learnt so many things about working in the arts and being part of an organisation such as an arts centre. During the first two days I met nearly all the staff at the North Wall and have learnt all of the different roles that people play in making an arts centre such an incredible and unforgettable place for everyone through their hard work. For example, we learnt things from lighting in plays to marketing for the North Wall. This gave me insight onto the arts since it showed how much thought and effort it takes to create a space that inspires and promotes the arts. We designed a participation project for a drama workshop which further showed the work and thought that is involved in giving the customers the best experience with the North Wall and the arts. My project was centred around helping year 6 pupils feel more confident as they transition to secondary school. It was very fun and made me realise the role that drama can have on people in their lives. In addition, I learnt how not only does the North Wall promote drama, but it also promotes other forms of art through the gallery and the dance studios. For instance, during our time at the North Wall two other performance groups were practicing and rehearsing their production in the space. During the first day we sat in on a read through of a family play, ‘Rosie and Hugh’ which was very funny and enjoyable. It was so amazing and inspiring to see so many performers working together on their shows and practicing. Through this experience I have realised the importance of collaboration with other organisations and institutions to create art and new ideas. After this experience, I have decided to consider drama in the future as a degree or perhaps a career in an art centre similar to the North Wall.”


“My experience at The North Wall has been extremely fun, and I have enjoyed every single second of it. I thought it was really interesting finding out all the different types of jobs you can have in The North Wall, and it has made my love for drama come to life even more. I learnt many different skills such as communication, leadership and independence, which are very important coming into adulthood. I truly enjoyed setting up the stage for performances and it shows how The North Wall put a ton of effort into every single person who performs there. Also, I particularly enjoyed watching and listening to the read-through of the show Rosie and Hugh, as it was really wholesome and lively. The staff were especially supportive and kind during the 4 days they had us and made our experience very enjoyable. Overall, the experience has been tremendously delightful, and I have made many fun memories and many new skills which will help me through life.”


“Coming to the North Wall, I expected it to be fun, but I didn’t expect to learn so much about the staff and their roles. For the first three days, me and the other 3 work experience students went to meetings with different staff members where we learnt about what they do every day. this was interesting as they told us stories of funny things that had happened. another thing I didn’t expect was that most of the staff didn’t have much to do with the arts directly at work but work with artists instead.

In the week, we were given jobs like writing 50 postcards for props or zip tying bits of plastic to a net and moving things on and off stage in the main theatre, this wasn’t too bad though. On the first day we went to a readthrough of a play for 3–8-year-olds called ‘Rosie and Hugh’ which was fun to watch even though it was for younger audiences. i also didn’t bring any food throughout the whole week because we were given free access to the St. Edwards canteen where the food was amazing.

I realised that working in the drama and performance arts probably isn’t for me, unless it had something to do with music. But watching technical run-throughs and seeing how everything worked behind the scenes was fun either way.

I think that after GCSEs I might apply to City of Oxford College for the 2-year music course because that’s what I’m interested in. At the end of that course, you do a few performances at either the O2 of Bullingdon Club so maybe I will find that the things I have learnt at the North Wall will be useful then.”

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