Guest Blog: Saskia Osterloff

Our lovely intern Saskia is coming to the end of her placement at CPT, as part of her degree in Theatre at Performance at the University of Surrey. Here, she shares some of the things she learned over the last eight months.

Twitter, Tickets and Tea: The Life of a CPT Intern

Have you ever been locked out of your email account for sending too many emails at once? I have. Five times.

Now answer me this: Have you ever trapped yourself in window display because you made it look absolutely perfect and artistically beautiful but then realised you’d blocked the tiny door to escape with a large polystyrene skyscraper? I have. Twice.

And finally, have you ever had to escort a pigeon out of the foyer of a theatre because he’d either a) got lost, b) was being incredibly nosey, or c) arrived two hours early for the show that night? Guess what? I have.

If you answered yes to all of the above, I predict you and I are rather similar and I recommend you sit down before you hurt yourself. And for the rest of you, grab a cuppa, make yourself comfortable and enjoy as I take you through what I’ve learnt during my 8-month internship at Camden People’s Theatre.

  1. Always check the milk situation before making a round of tea
  2. You will never become completely comfortable answering the phone. And will continuously struggle to hear mumbled important information, especially when booking tickets for people online. Was it S or F? You’ll never know.
  3. All those times you didn’t listen in school IT lessons when being taught how to use Excel spreadsheets. Yup, you’re going to regret that.
  4. Having said that, Excel will be invaluable to you when assembling databases of contact information. Just look at those neat, organised, colour-coded columns. So beautiful.
  5. You’ll feel like you could basically work at MI5 the amount of data analysis you do on audience booking patterns and donations given
  6. You will forget to actually attach attachments to emails at least twice a week
  7. Twitter will become your nemesis
  8. Avoid letting the feedback forms build up for more than 3 days at a time. You will be deciphering doctor’s handwriting and typing them up for hours.
  9. You will perfect the art of the friendly yet professional email.
  10. And then the art of the friendly yet stern email
  11. And then the “look guys, sales are moving rather slowly, why aren’t you more concerned?” email
  12. Sex sells
  13. Theatre gossip is the best gossip
  14. You will learn fairly quickly which are the best artists and companies to work for. Shambles Theatre stocked us up with chocolate and Easter eggs. Just saying.
  15. Despite saying outright that you never wanted to do marketing ever ever ever while on placement, you’ll grow to actually kind of love it
  16. You will bond with co-workers over tea and blueberry muffins
  17. You’ll wish your mental maths was just a wee bit stronger when working at the bar
  18. And being given an extra 17p by a helpful customer to “make up the change” will just confuse you more
  19. You will never not get nervous doing the thank you/donations speech at the end of shows
  20. Chairs are not meant for standing on to reach the top of chalkboards. You will fall off. A lot.
  21. You will research some very interesting things for outreach marketing: grime blogs, transgender toilet signage, accessible organisations, tantric sex classes, Guantanamo Bay…No topic is off limits for CPT.
  22. You will learn so much about theatre marketing and admin. And how a Fringe theatre like CPT is run. And will be constantly in awe of the core staff and how they haven’t had an existential crisis yet.
  23. I also know a lot more about porn now, so that’s nice
  24. There will be days where you won’t have too much to do and others where you’ll feel like the responsibilities of the whole world are on your shoulders. But To Do lists help greatly. As does coffee.
  25. You can instantly ruin a bank clerk’s day by telling them you’re from CPT and you’ve got ‘some’ money (3 weeks worth of box office & bar takings) to cash in.
  26. There will be some crappy days, but they will most definitely be outweighed by the great ones
  27. It will be the best 8 months of your life and you won’t want to leave

Shameless plug: I’m currently undertaking research for my dissertation around the topic of presenting sex on stage and how consent and censorship play a role in that (very Hotbed I know). If you are an artist/director/producer/human and have thoughts and opinions on this topic and would like to contribute to my research and be part of this discussion, please do get in touch: [email protected] or on twitter: @SasOsterloff