Backstage and Beyond - Shereen Phillips, Community Programme Coordinator
Welcome to Backstage and Beyond, a series of interview in which we talk to theatre industry professionals to find out more about their jobs. Everyone knows what an actor does, but it takes a lot more than just the people on stage to make a show. Please join us as we quiz people in all sorts of cool theatre jobs on their work, what it involves, and how you could do the same. Our next guest is Shereen Phillips, who works as community programme coordinator at the National Theatre.
How do you become a community programme coordinator?
I graduated from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2010 with a degree in Drama, Applied Theatre and Education. Since then I have worked in the artistic and creative learning departments of a variety of London theatres, working with community groups of all ages. Prior to working at National Theatre, I was project manager for Tricycle Theatre's 2016 Takeover festival, Barbican Centre's 2017 Dialogue festival and outreach producer for Barbican Cinema.
What does your daily schedule look like?
My days vary a lot. It's generally a cross between administration, meetings, training, planning, workshops, visiting community organisations and seeing theatre to keep up to date with current practice.
What are the best parts and the worst parts of your job?
The best part is engaging with people and participants, hearing and seeing their journeys through theatre or how theatre has helped them explore a side of themselves they didn't previously realise was there. The worst part is not being able to reach literally everyone. There are always some limitations, and you can’t work with every great community organisation you come across.
What advice would you give to young people who are interested in going into your line of work?
My advice would be to see as much theatre as you can, and there are lots of ways to do this as most theatres have cheaper prices tickets for young people. I’d also say you should grab every opportunity that comes your way and to keep an open mind: learn about all areas of theatre. Another helpful bit of advice that I was given, was to find a mentor in the strand of work that you’re interested in. This will help you think about which direction you’d like your career to go in.
What do you enjoy about working at the National Theatre?
There are so many things I enjoy about working here! There are opportunities to undertake training and to continue our professional development while working at the theatre. The NT has such fantastic resources, meaning we have the opportunity work with a number of community organisations on a variety of projects. And of course, I get to see the amazing productions staged here!