The Talent Pipeline
I joined ThickSkin in November 2021 and since then I have been Production Administrator on two ThickSkin shows and been lucky enough to visit ten stunning venues across the UK on these tours! I’ve also organised the logistics of our office move last July, supported the re-shaping of our Creative Learning programme, launched ThickSkin TV, consumed MANY cups of coffee, and generally had an absolute blast making theatre.
One of the key pillars of ThickSkin’s work is talent development. I think my position in this role itself is a testament to that, as Laura and Neil took the chance on me, an absolute newbie to the professional theatre world. At the time of joining the company, I was working in a bar, with some producing experience through university. I have received lots of support over the past 18 months, through personal and professional development and have now been given the opportunity to lead on our next project, an immersive audio play in Wigan town centre, which will form part of our Walk This Play series.
If you’re not familiar with our Walk This Play series, a little about the project: the plays are an immersive experience, transporting you inside the story. Each audio play is unique to its location, you on a journey of imagination and discovery. Through narration and original music blended with the sights and sounds around you, Walk This Play® invites you to experience a familiar route from a new perspective.
Walk This Play Wigan is being designed as a celebration of the town’s past, present, and future. We’re creating the production with ten Young Creatives from the area, using real stories from the local community. The project is reminiscent of ThickSkin’s Monuments – part of the Walk This Play series created in 2021, commissioned by Step Up MCR. This particular audio play featured stories and voices from the communities of Ancoats, Clayton, Beswick & Openshaw. We hope the Wigan Walk This Play, will be just as authentic and share extraordinary local stories in an unexpected way.
To me, one of the most exciting parts of this project is the work we’re going to be doing with the local young people. The group are from across the borough aged 14-25, and they will co-create the concept and content of the final audio play working side by side with ThickSkin’s Artistic Director, Neil Bettles. This is such an exciting opportunity and something I wished for when I was growing up and getting into theatre. We also have the pleasure of working with Wigan-based writer and creative, Joseph Walsh as Associate Director. Joseph had previously worked with us as Assistant Director on Blood Harmony, and it’s great to have him back in this new role. It’s another example of how ThickSkin try to build progression routes for artists through the company’s work.
As exciting as working with these young people is, finding them proved to be one of the biggest challenges we have faced with this project. Despite landing in Wigan a year ago, we’re still a relatively unknown entity here. How do you convince people that what you’re offering is great, when they don’t really know who you are? You look to the people around you!
We’re so thankful for the support we received from all our friends in Wigan; The Old Courts, Rose Bruford College Wigan, Wigan & Leigh College, Everyday, Wigan Youth Zone, and Curious Minds; as well as the schools – St Marys, Fred Longworth, and The Deanery – without the support of these groups to help us spread the word, our reach wouldn’t have been as successful.
As I’m writing this, we’re gearing up for the first workshop session with our young people. It’s set to be an exciting month for us, and I hope you will join us at the launch of Walk This Play Wigan at The Old Courts’ Streets Apart Festival on Sunday 9 July. Until then, you can share your Wigan story here.
Keep an eye out for our blog next month – you can hear directly from the young people involved in the project about the creative process!
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