We’d like to offer a big congratulations to BA Drama and Film alumna, Alisha Artry, who has recently joined the prestigious Young Vic theatre as their Neighbourhood Theatre Producer. We caught up with Alisha to find out more about her career since leaving Kent, including her own theatre company she runs with fellow Kent alumna, Germma Oleans-Thompson.
Where has your career taken you since you graduated in 2017?
I started off working at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith as the ‘Young Lyric Intern’ through a company called creative access. Creative access is a social enterprise that supports people from underrepresented background into creative career roles. Young Lyric is a strand which works with young people. This was my first insight into working in a theatre and I learnt so much about being a producer. Before this role I had no idea what a producer was or working in participation. I just knew I was creative and passionate about working with communities to create art.
After my internship they offered me a full time job as the Young Lyric Assistant working on producing festivals, shows and workshops with young people and artists. I then moved onto working at Frantic Assembly as the Learn & Train Project Manager, working on their flagship training programme for young people called ‘Ignition’. This was a role dedicated to working with young people across the UK to offer opportunities to workshop and create shows with Frantic assembly.
Now, I am working at the Young Vic theatre as the Neighbourhood Theatre Producer working with communities and groups to develop and produce existing and new programmes for people aged 25+. This includes a writing and acting programme, movement and bespoke workshops.
How do you feel your time at Kent prepared you for working in industry?
While studying at Kent, I was the President of the African and Caribbean society. During my time as president I would work with a team to produce loads of events: games nights, black history month events, movie nights, galas and social events.
At the time I didn’t know I was producing but all the work I did as president prepared me for producing in my all of my roles: working on a budget, working with communities, leading a team and creating strategies to increase membership all helped me to prepare for the work I currently do in the industry.
During your degree at Kent, what was your favourite module and why?
My favourite module was the Acting module, it felt like for the term we were in a drama school. It was really fun and educational; the practical elements were great and it was a good opportunity to work with different people on the course.
What was your favourite memory from your time at Kent?
My favourite memory was working on my final third year performance, it was a celebration of black sisterhood and the perfect way to end my year at Kent. The joy of black women on stage always excites me and to be part of something that lifted my spirit was profound.
The love of my culture, music and food all in one piece was a lot and It felt great working with a group I hadn’t been able to work with throughout my time at Kent. While on this project I met Germma Orleans-Thompson and that was the start of us working together. We started a theatre company called Sculptress, and are working on developing one of our shows called Bad Nandos.
What does a typical day in your current role look like?
Well, a lot of emails meeting new people within the theatre, existing groups and alumni. I’ve been planning masterclass sessions for the current writing and acting programme. This is industry talks for the participants to gain as much knowledge while on the programme. Creating and finalising budget plans, creating plans for new ideas and workshops. I am also planning for a show that I am co-producing, looking for actors, creating timelines and plans for the tour. Constantly, my brain is ticking and thinking of new ideas for next year!
Are you working on any exciting projects that you can share?
My theatre company that I run with Germma Orleans-Thompson (Kent alumna) is developing one of our shows called Bad Nandos. Its currently in its second draft and we are hoping to R&D it this summer and have at least a week long run in a theatre space.
What advice would you give to a prospective or current students studying at Kent?
Study and work hard! But also get the FULL university experience, meet with your academic advisor, join a society and club.
Come out of your comfort zone, try new things, make new friends. Vote for a president for the Kent Union, be a part of shaping what your uni experience will be like. Speak! Share how you feel and use the systems at the University to help keep your mental health stable. Always ask for help and don’t suffer in silence. Be kind to everyone, always.
What advice would you give to a final year student looking to work in the industry (theatre or film)?
There are so many roles in the industry, literally I feel like new roles are created daily. You would be surprised at what someone will pay you to do. Find out what you’re good at or would like to be good at and work on it.
RESEARCH! I always say to people if you are really interested in a role or company send them email and ask for a coffee or a zoom to chat and find out more about their work. The worst thing that can happen is you get no reply but that isn’t that bad. In my final year I wish I had done more research into entry level jobs and internships. Prepare as much as you can! If you’re someone who feels underrepresented in the industry, I’ll remind you that your voice, your thoughts matter and I advise you to take up space. Take up space wherever you go!
You can follow Alisha on Twitter and Instagram, as well as following her theatre company, Sculptress on Twitter too.