Heather Kincaid started as a Birmingham Hippodrome First Night Blogger just over 12 months ago, now she takes on the role of our First Night Ambassador as we look to recruit new members of the blogging scheme. In this blog Heather talks about her experiences over the past year…
From Wicked to Wagner, War Horse to the Four Squares Weekender, my year working as a blogger for Birmingham Hippodrome has been nothing if not varied. Since being picked to take part in the theatre’s still expanding and improving First Night scheme, I’ve been lucky enough to be offered tickets to everything from smash-hit West End shows on tour, to experimental works-in-progress by emerging, independent artists.
One of the best parts of the job has been getting to experience shows I might not otherwise have seen, whether out of choice or because of other obstacles. Not only have I begun to gain a better understanding of dance and physical theatre, but I’ve also been able to enjoy the big, popular musicals. As its many users will already know, the Hippodrome’s First Night scheme is a great way for young people to get a taste of the West End at a fraction of the normal ticket price, and as a blogger, getting to go along without paying a penny has been a real privilege.
It’s not all been about seeing shows and reviewing them, however. On top of this, I’ve been invited to behind-the-scenes tours, exclusive interviews and on-location photo shoots. I’ve had access to private, press-only areas where I’ve been treated to drinks with the professionals. I’ve sat in on a pantomime rehearsal in London, attended a special War Horse concert with readings by Michael Morpurgo and even helped create an ice sculpture to be displayed as part of an outdoor art exhibition.
On a more practical note, I’ve significantly expanded my professional portfolio and gained publicity thanks to sharing by the Birmingham Hippodrome, as well as by performers and companies whose productions have been staged at the theatre. In addition to having my blog posts regularly retweeted, I’ve been featured in Hippodrome programmes, pursued online conversations with artists and been able to speak directly to professional journalists working across all different kinds of media. Above all, Ben and Mandy (Press and PR) have been brilliant at supporting me all the way through to get better at what I do, and I hope the skills I’ve developed will prove beneficial to me as part of an ongoing career.
Things are already beginning to move along, and as I come to the end of my time as a First Night Blogger, I’m also settling into a new position as a Hippodrome Plus Youth Ambassador, hosting public talks linked to the theatre’s outdoor work, getting trained in public speaking and attending arts festivals to help programme shows for next year’s Summer in Southside. This role has already been a real boost to my confidence, but perhaps even more importantly, it’s given me the chance to meet some fantastic, driven and creative young people from the area with whom I sincerely hope I’ll keep in touch for years to come.
Whether you’re planning a career in arts journalism or simply looking for an insight into how creative industries and theatrical productions are run, working as a First Night Blogger could serve as a brilliant starting point – just as long as you’re willing to make the most of every opportunity thrown your way!
For more information on how you can become a First Night Blogger CLICK HERE.