INTERVIEW WITH CURRENT REGIONAL TRAINEE PRODUCERS JOHN TOMLINSON AND VERITY BARTESCH

John is the Producer and Company Director of Strawberry Blonde Curls, after a successful Stage One Regional Producing placement with Sheffield Theatres he is now the Assistant Producer at Sheffield Theatres.

What does Stage One mean to you?
Stage One gave me the most incredible opportunity to develop my skills as a producer by working on a huge range of different in-house, touring and visiting productions. Working in a building as open and welcoming as Sheffield Theatres is a joy and the support I was given has put me in a great place in my career. I couldn’t possibly have known how much I would have learnt and understood in just a year. The networks of people I’m now engaged with and industry knowledge I’m now full of, is priceless.
Last show you saw and loved?
As I’m still in Sheffield, I’m completely biased but Anything Goes, which will go on tour from here next year is an absolute gem! It bursts with energy, it’s fun filled, easy going, tap heaven. Daniel Evans is a genius and it’s truly inspiring to be working here during his and Dan Bates’ (Chief Executive) reign.
What’s been your favourite producing experience?
My favourite experience was working on the tour of This Is My Family, where I went to each venue. Representing our organisation in other places was a massive privilege and the show was a joy to see so many times.
What's the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Sarah Nicholson, who is now Executive Director at the Orange Tree Theatre, was my mentor for my year as a Regional Trainee Producer and she gave me many pearls of wisdom. I remember her telling me to always be myself because people will buy and invest in that. I like that one and it’s a great place to start!
What is your new year’s resolution?
It’s been a busy end to the year, so not thought of that yet. It will probably be to make sure I continue to work hard and be ready to say yes to bigger, exciting challenges.

Verity is currently Assistant Producer after completing her Stage One Regional producing placement for the Curve Theatre. Alongside this role she is the Producer for Upstairs at the Western and Off the Fence Theatre Company.

What does Stage One mean to you?
I got my job at Curve as a direct result of being a Stage One trainee producer with them. There is no way I would have had the confidence to apply for my current role without the training and experience gained from being a Stage One trainee producer. Stage One has given me the opportunity to have a career that I absolutely love and want to spend the rest of my life fulfilling, you don't get much better than that!
The regional producing placement scheme allowed me to stay in Leicester which was perfect.  Leicester is where I had been to University and built-up good relationships in the arts sector. I have a real passion for regional theatre and more specifically theatre produced in Leicester, so it was important for me to be a part of it.
I feel so lucky to be in my situation at my age and it's all because of Stage One (and lots of hard work!). It's incredible to have a charity that gives people the skills to excel at something that at first, can seem unattainable.

Last show you saw and loved?
I saw the NT Live encore screening of Frankenstein at the Phoenix Cinema here in Leicester - I know London isn't far but it's so great to have these incredible shows distributed regionally. I've also seen The Sound of Music at The Curve a few times, it's a gorgeous show and has been great fun to work on.
What’s been your favourite producing experience?
Working on Chicago at The Curve last year was one of the biggest learning experiences! On my third day at The Curve I was in London helping with auditions, which was my first time working with a professional cast on a musical. It was an absolutely incredible show and I was extremely proud to be a part of it. But my favourite experience was our first season at Upstairs at the Western, which I produced and programmed with Off the Fence. It taught me how much hard work and dedicated was required to produce a show and to see the theatre full to the brim was worth every second!
What's the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
'Just do it' - thankfully I have a lot of people around me that believe wholeheartedly in this advice.
What is your new year’s resolution?
To see more dance, I really enjoy it when I go but don't often choose it. Oh, and to get better at networking, I'm useless at it!