The iMayflower Scheme opens curtains of opportunity for Documental Theatre

During the restructuring of Documental Theatre in 2020, the Devon-based theatre company applied to the Innovative Placements Scheme to benefit from the talent and specialised skillset of two interns. The company is led by Artistic Director, Lucy Bell, who through the scheme employed Julia Antram as Assistant Producer, and Emma Stolliday as Web Designer, to assist the delivery and raise the profile of the #WhereTo? project.

Founded in 2014 by Lucy Bell and Cally Hayes, two frontline, public-sector workers, Documental Theatre was envisaged to create compelling, socially engaged plays, informed by lived experience. They have since worked with numerous artists, offering a platform for outstanding South West talent. Each project aims to explore the themes, ‘duty of care’, interdependence and how social circumstances impact relationship dynamics. The play Laminated, performed at intoBodmin in November 2019, examined the effect that caring for a learning-disabled child has on a marriage.

The #WhereTo? Project

2020 was a pivotal year for Documental Theatre; relaunching the company with new projects and a fresh advisory board. Artistic Director, Lucy, was working to sustain Documental Theatre in an unpredictable climate during the pandemic and was, like most parents, juggling work with childcare whilst settings were closed.

    

After hearing of the iMayflower Innovative Placements Scheme, run by The Bridge at the University of Plymouth, Lucy identified this as an excellent opportunity to gain some crucial support and technical insight for the company at a time when they needed it most.

  • Aimed to disrupt traditional pathways for South West writers, devisers and companies, encouraging the industry to “look to the South West” during a time when theatres were dark and geographical locations were insignificant.
  • Artists or companies submitted a 3-minute video to Documental Theatre to showcase their work or ideas.
  • Submissions were shared on social media by high-profile theatre organisations across the country during #WhereToWeek.
  • Over 30 venues and organisations, such as the Minack Theatre and Camden People’s Theatre promoted the talent through their social platforms.

Welcoming of the Interns

Interns Julia and Emma were welcomed into Documental Theatre’s team. The students were mentored, able to put their skills to practice and gain the invaluable experience of working within a professional environment.

Julia’s Role as Assistant Producer: 
  • liaising with theatre organisations to get them on board with #WhereTo?
  • working on the Call for Submissions to encourage South West makers to get involved
  • assisting the curating team with technical support for the production
  • helping with developing future projects and marketing.

Emma’s Role as Web Designer:

  • co-designing and updating the website to reflect new board and projects, preparing for the increased ‘click rate’ that #WhereTo? would inevitably bring
  • supporting with the curation of fresh content and smooth functionality
  • working on the planning, designing and copywriting of social campaigns to build Documental Theatre’s audience.

With a successful launch and over 71 submissions, Documental Theatre were able to empower a number of South West artists through #WhereTo?, spotlighting voices all over the region.

Currently, Documental Theatre is creating a series of radio plays, PROPS, inspired by people who have faced a ‘new normal’ for years prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, in their role in supporting a loved one. Since being granted Arts Council England funding, Lucy has extended Julia’s freelance employment, and offered one-off briefs to Emma.


“The iMayflower [Innovative Placements Scheme] was brilliant. It's been game changing; I feel I have a lot of good ideas, but any good idea needs a lot of emotional labour and admin to pull it off. Having two really bright women working with me, who were paid for by the scheme, meant we could aim high.”

Lucy Bell, Artistic Director at Documental Theatre

The iMayflower Innovative Placements Scheme
Supported by Arts Council England through the Cultural Development Fund, the Innovative Placements Scheme aims to enhance the creative economy in the South West. The initiative enables local businesses to work with highly skilled student interns. Documental Theatre has taken full advantage of the scheme to achieve positive results for the business, whilst simultaneously improving the career prospects of the students involved.