TakeOver13 Festival Blog 1

30 Sep

What TakeOver is and how I came to be involved with it

I’m so excited to have been appointed Associate Director for the next TakeOver Festival at the York Theatre Royal which will be happening over three weeks next March, July and the Autumn. The first TakeOver festival was in 2009 and was a massive experiment. Nothing had been seen like it before on that scale. Essentially what happens is that for two or more weeks, the regular staff of the theatre hand over the reigns to a bunch of under 25 year olds who take over the running of the theatre. For these few weeks they are in charge. Each new member of TakeOver staff is given a mentor – so for example the theatre’s Associate Director will be mine – to keep them on the right track and to teach them the ins and outs of their job.

I was involved with the first TakeOver because I was in Equus performed by the theatre’s Young Actors Company and through that I heard about the other exciting things going on and decided to help front of house and a bit in marketing. You can even see me on the TakeOver page on YTR’s website http://www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/page/takeover.php – fun times! Since then, I’ve wanted to be involved on a larger scale, especially because I have since decided that I would really like to have a career in the industry, but I have always been away at uni.. until now! I was aware that there may be another TakeOver coming up so during the end of my degree I checked the website to see if the Senior Management roles were being advertised. Luckily for me, they were, and the dates were perfect to fit in with my masters in York!

The Senior Management team roles are: Artistic Director, Producer, Associate Director, Communications Manager, Production Manager and General Manager. I was torn between a couple of the roles but I soon decided that Associate Director would be the right one for me to apply for. It is essentially heading up Creative Engagement (basically work in and with the local community and Education) with directing and programming thrown in as well. As I am interested in directing as well as education and young people I thought it would be perfect and (during finals.. oops..) I sat down to fill in the application form.


Having set my heart on being involved somehow I was really excited to hear I’d got an interview soon after I had finished university and come back to York. I was interviewed by the Associate Director of YTR, Juliet, and two lovely members of the TakeOver board (more about them in a moment). The interview was relaxed but challenging enough to make me really think what I wanted to get out of TakeOver and what I could offer them. I enjoyed it but as with exams and auditions, I never can tell how interviews have really gone until I know the verdict! I was amazed and thrilled when I heard the next day that I was hired!

Next Steps

It was a while until I heard anything else because the other members of the team had to be recruited and many of their interviews couldn’t be conducted until after the mystery plays frenzy had died down because of their mentors being involved with it. I was invited to a Board Meeting late August but unfortunately I couldn’t make it. As the Senior Management team came together we were given each others details and began to introduce ourselves and on 19th September we had our first big TakeOver day. Only four of the six SMT could make it but it was still good to put faces to names! Firstly we each individually had meetings with our mentors. We discussed my job description and what it meant and I met the rest of the Creative Engagement staff (some of whom I already knew) in their office. Next it was time for a meet and greet with tea and biscuits and members of YTR staff and TakeOver staff followed by a tour of the YTR buildings (so fun to stand on the stage again!). Finally we got to meet the TakeOver Board. There are about 15 members of the board, all under the age of 25 and headed up by a Chair and two Vice Chairs. They help oversee what the SMT do and give us advice with programming ideas etc. It was such an exciting atmosphere with a lot of ages and different levels of experiences and interests around the table and there was some great cake! We talked about the mission for TakeOver and what sort of things would be happening in the near future.

Programming time!

Apparently for the first TakeOver week in March, we have to have chosen what shows and workshops we want to book pretty soon (as in, imminently) for it to make the main YTR brochure. We can have our own print as well of course, but this is a really good way to reach the YTR’s usual audience to let them know what will be going on. As a team, we already have a lot of ideas, and we need more than enough because there’s a fair chance that a lot of it we won’t be able to get due to unavailability, budget etc. Straight after the board meeting, we had a quick pub brainstorm (the best kind) and then all our initial ideas and more were typed up so we could all google and youtube everything. On the 27th September, I was in the theatre in the morning helping with a schools workshop for a lively Year 3 class who were going to watch Tutti Frutti’s Rapunzel in the afternoon (I snuck in too and it was charming) and in the evening, three of the SMT met up to talk through the ideas. On 3rd Oct we have to present them to the board to see what they think and to get some feedback. I’m sure they’ll be very honest with their opinions and I’m looking forward to it!


Long post I know, but writing about TakeOver will help me as well – to order my thoughts and work out what’s to be done next! Any questions or ideas about what you’d like to see, just comment!

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