Wednesday, 16 November 2016

#loveahashtagday

Wow....everything gets 'a day' now doesn't it? Every illness has 'a day', practically every job has 'a day'? What is that about? Is it a hashtag thing? Does 'a day' work? Today is #lovetheatreday will somebody see that hashtag today that has never been to the theatre and think 'I know...I'll give it a go. . . after all they all seem to love enough to give it a hashtag?'

Then who am I to talk about hashtags? I based the entire Mental Health Charter around the hashtag #time4change (I mean I even used 4 instead of for. . . cos that's how things rock in the 140 character world called Twitter)

Originally this blog was going to be about so many thoughts - how it scares me that people are advertising courses just as a 'West End thing'....like theatre stops and starts within a few postcodes? How sad that is, when some of the most creative, exciting stuff happens way outside London. How I didn't think that that was healthy for young professionals - as if that's the only goal, then the majority will fail...and what does that mean to them?

Then I was going to write this about how interesting I'm finding it at the moment, seeing phrases that I categorically know were 'created' by the incredible advertising gentleman called Toby Richards who had donated his time to The MTA back in the day because he believed in our ethos....now being in common usage throughout the industry. How back then I disagreed with Toby over so many of them, as I just didn't think that they 'worked'...but then I remembered that he was a marketing guru for a reason, and I wouldn't allow him to come in and change some of my music. In other words, we all have strengths, and the strongest people are the ones that recognise their weaknesses and work with them.

Then I was going to write a blog about boundaries, and about how important I consider it to be that staff and students don't confuse socialising with networking and vice versa. How strict boundaries should be in place to protect staff AND students from mixed messages that can confuse studio dynamics.

However, one thing just kept coming into my mind...it's Christmas. Christmas is definitely coming. On Monday I started rehearsing this year's panto. . . so I KNOW that it's Christmas very soon.
However, Christmas could maybe even should be hashtagged #crises. Christmas is one of those times when you can be surrounded by people - yet feel so alone. The worse feeling of all.

Actors, musicians, techies up and down the UK will be in 'strange' cities this Christmas, cooking the turkey or nut roast with their panto families, as it seems easier than attempting the Christmas commute, and all the dangers that that entails e.g. will 'work on the line', mean that you're sat on a replacement bus, when you should be on stage for the Boxing Day matinee?

There is no sadder time than seeing everyone so happy, so optimistic for their future, when you are personally struggling.

UK Productions, one of the countries more prolific panto companies has signed the #time4change charter - hopefully, their staff have already received the charter, so people that are already experiencing some mental health difficulties have had warning flags raised.
Some regional theatres e.g. The Nuffield, Wakefield Theatre Royal - have already signed the charter. Meaning that their 'guests' this Christmas, will have easy access to information on mental health crises centres in that area. These things over time WILL make a difference. They are the start of a much bigger conversation.

Then all those thoughts led me to this. . . the crux of this blog...where are all the other colleges? Why is there a resistance to signing up for #time4change? Are people really just so politically driven to think that because another college came up with the initiative they couldn't join up? Or are people thinking that they've got this sussed already? Are your 'policies' really working? The evidence would honestly suggest otherwise.

More and more evidence is being sent or delivered to me about how there already is a mental health crisis in our colleges. We know that you're inundated with people needing your services. We know (as one person told me) that it's like a Tsunami.  Let's face it, we know that the colleges expanded without a thought to pastoral provision, and now everyone is talking about Mental Health, students are using the opportunity of breaking away from home to start to explore their own, deep seated concerns.  Please let's work together and create the most supportive, safe environment for ALL drama and technical study students in the UK. Let's not make this about politics...let's just accept and act on the fact that it's #time4change.

I want to sit in a room with ALL the other colleges and thrash out a plan that could help everyone make the most of their resources, whilst supporting students and staff.

You have to be in it to win it. Rubbish phrase....I know....but our strength here could be in our numbers. Now what was that about recognises weaknesses and working with them?



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