Tag Archives: team

Smells Like Team Spirit

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Hello, lovely reader!  How’s your week progressing?  Getting through your to do list at a pleasing pace, I hope?

“Team work” is one of those phrases that fills us with dread and fear.  This is because we secretly think that “team work” means “unable to think for yourself”, “willing to let others do your work” or, horror of horrors, “always up for those God-awful trust exercises that supposedly break the ice, but actually make everyone feel cripplingly embarrassed”.

What you discover very quickly in working world (particularly when you work in the arts) is that when it actually happens, team work is flipping brilliant.  Of course we should all have independent approaches, unique ideas and confidence in what we bring to the job as individuals, but we should also enjoy the many advantages that proper team work offers.

As you might remember from previous posts, I am currently working in a front of house team on a large-scale kids’ show in London.  The job is difficult and the show is not really aimed at my demographic, but the experience is ace.  As they say in The Lego Movie song, everything is cool when you’re part of a team.  Here are a few lovely things about team work that might dispel some of those trust exercise (shudder) memories:

In jokes – weeks, months and even years after the event, in jokes can help a team to feel connected to one another.  In jokes are also a good way to just have a bit of fun at work when the chips are down.

People understand why you’re stressed – if you turn to a colleague and go “aaaargh” (or something slightly more articulate), nine times out of ten they will get what you’re on about.  Not having to explain your stress and still managing to get sympathy is pretty darn efficient.

The play’s the thing – working with a whole bunch of people who care about the same project you do is brilliant, because you are constantly reminded that you are all working towards something bigger than any of you.  This can be scary and inspirational in equal measure, but it is always a motivator.

Down time – it is so nice to unwind in the company of people whose day you’ve shared.  There’s a sense of mutual achievement and good humour when my colleagues and I get the train home from work together, even though most of us have at least an hour’s commute ahead of us.  Stopping at the amazing frozen yoghurt place on our way from work to the station helps, too.

Going crazy – work can sometimes take over our lives a bit, and when it does it’s nice to know that the people you work with are going crazy at exactly the same rate, in pretty much the same way and for precisely the same reason.  For instance, the kids’ show I’m working includes some very distinctive music.  Surprisingly, it’s actually very cheering to hear my colleagues humming it all day long, because it means that I’m not alone.  The one time that it’s good to crazy is when you’re in great company.

Have a delightful Friday.

10 Things All Theatre Types Do

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Hello, you lovely thing.  How’s this week treating you so far?

Firstly, I should apologise for the fact that I might not have time to blog every day for the next few weeks.  I’ve just started working on a kids’ show in Greenwich, and I will essentially be eating, sleeping and breathing children’s theatre for a while.  I will do my best to keep up with you lovely people, but please do bear with me if I don’t quite manage it.

Today’s blog is (predictably) a theatre-based list of stuff that happens to everyone when they start working on a new show, particularly in a front of house capacity:

1) You work out very quickly who is going to make you laugh during the nightmare shifts – look out for the people who tend to mutter witticisms under their breath during briefings and people who are good at pulling silly faces.

2) You remember how much fun it is to use radios – you’re basically getting paid to play with walkie talkies.

3) You make a new best friend – in my case, one of my fellow supervisors has already “claimed” me as his latest fag hag.  I feel so honoured.

4) You end up working with someone you already know – I love this about theatre.  Nine times out of ten, we end up reconnecting with a friend or ex-colleague in a wholly unexpected context, and that really helps us to relax into new working situations.

5) You find a fittie – don’t look at me like that.  Everyone does this.  We’re not proud of it, but we all like to work out as early as possible whether there’s going to be anyone in our team who is nice to look at.  Just look at, mind.  We’re professionals, after all.

6) You know the show off by heart within two shifts.

7) You are insanely bored of the show within three shifts.

8) You passionately hate the show within three and a half shifts.

9) You find and immediately set up camp in the nearest decent pub.

10) Cheesy as it sounds, you fall in love with theatre all over again.

Right, I’m off to Greenwich to bring joy to hundreds of children.  You have yourself the most enjoyable Thursday of every Thursday ever.

People Love You (And You Don’t Have to Forward Them Anything)

Good morning, lovely reader!  How are you?

Aside from the funny videos  and viral memes that make the rounds on Facebook, there are also several people who make the effort to distribute positive, heart-warming material.  These can be adorable photos of small children and puppies, faith-in-humanity restoring tales of human heroics, or even a simple “I love my friends” status with said friends tagged and made aware of their awesomeness.

When I was a teenager and email messaging was starting to become popular among my social group, we also used to send each other chain emails: “You are a precious butterfly.  Send this email to 320 other people and you will get your wings in seven days”  You know the sort of thing.  I never did get my wings.  Bloody Royal Mail.  These emails were (and I suppose still are) sent by people who have the best intentions in the world, but they’re not very personal.

One email that you might also remember was basically a long list of nice facts that supposedly applied to everyone, and had been compiled in order to make anyone who read the email feel better about themselves: “someone loves you”, “someone is grateful for the help you’ve given them”, “someone thinks about you every day” and so on (and on and on and on).  These are all perfectly lovely things, and I do hope that they’re true for all of us.  But they are a bit too vague and a bit too grandiose, so I thought it was about time for an updated, more specific and slightly more down to earth version:

1) Someone always wants you on their team
Board games, pub quizzes, video games or even actual sports: you in particular are known for being good at something, and someone always thinks of you when they have to put a team together.  Your unique set of skills and knowledge make you invaluable to that team, whether you’re trying to win a round about anagrams or running around a field with a stick. (That’s how you play hockey, right?)

2) Someone brings up anecdotes about you at parties
Not in a mean way: in a fond way.  In the way that explains something central about your personality to the people at the party, or reminds the group of an absent friend who’s sorely missed. Cases in point: my house mate once commented that Wales were doing quite well in “the Four Seasons” when of course she meant the Six Nations tournament.  Another friend from university once re-enacted the Stations of the Cross using a Wetherspoons burger, chips and a lot of ketchup, and we bring that story up whenever we’re all together, because we haven’t seen him in yonks and we miss him.

3) Someone always thinks of you when a certain song plays
There are so many songs that make me think of specific people.  About ten of my favourite songs make me think of my friend Becca, who introduced me to lots of excellent music in our first year at university.  I can guarantee that certain songs will remind people of you, and you’d be surprised by how much good stuff comes out of seemingly inconsequential things like that.  For example, writing this one has made me realise how much I miss Becca.  I’m going to ring her when I’ve finished this post.

4) Someone enjoys how ridiculous your friendship is
Everyone has at least one friend with whom they act slightly strangely.  In-jokes, silly voices and strange traditions abound between old friends.  To be perfectly honest, I’m struggling to think of friends with whom I don’t have slightly odd habits: for example, one of my oldest friends and I like to make macaroni cheese together, and we have a song about it.  That’s right.  It’s called “We Love the Macaroni Cheese”.  There may or may not be a dance that goes with it.  ANYWAY, the point is that with true and loyal friends it’s ok to be a teensy bit insane, and the knowledge that we can’t behave that way in public makes us all the more appreciative of the people who allow us to be a bit weird.  Have you seen this?  This guy knows what I’m talking about:

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5) Someone walked past you today and thought you were fit
That’s just common sense.  Look at you; you’re gorgeous!

Have a brilliant day.  May your lunch be unusually delicious.

Television Teaches Us

Good morning, reader!  Did you enjoy the sunshine this weekend?  Oh good, me too.

As those of you who read yesterday’s slightly frantic blog post will know, my house mate and I have cause to revise our general knowledge in the next, er…twenty five hours.  I’m sure we can manage that.  You will also know that I have a fondness for the television show Dad’s Army.

It might seem strange that a television show from the seventies about the forties resonates so strongly with someone who arrived in the world right at the end of the eighties, but I love the show because I think it’s taught me quite a lot.  In general, television shows have given me an education that rivals my A Levels in terms of relevance to the world, and definitely overtakes my degree in terms of practicality.  Here are a few examples:

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1) Dad’s Army

Community is important.  Life is full of people with idiosyncrasies, funny foibles and general oddities, and they all matter as human beings.  However bizarre your colleagues, friends and family may be, you are stronger united than you are on your own.  Also, don’t panic (especially if your name is Mr. Mainwaring).

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2) Blackadder

This show is responsible for about ninety percent of my historical knowledge.  My sincere apologies to anyone who taught me History at school, but if you want me to retain information I need to hear it with a massive dose of sarcasm, preferably from Rowan Atkinson.

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3) How I Met Your Mother

Oh, so many things: nothing good happens after 2am; bros before hos (or sisters before misters, I suppose); the Hot/Crazy scale is scarily accurate; never invite an ex to your wedding.  Also, the best thing you can ask for from life is an evening in your favourite pub with your best friends.

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4) Red Dwarf

Similarly to the Dad’s Army ethos, when you’re stuck in a space ship three million years from Earth, you need to be a team.  Even if that team is made up of a robot, a dead hologram, a genetic mesh of cat and human and a Liverpudlian layabout.

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5) Friends

Of course Friends made the list.  There are many good lessons to learn from the show, but in my opinion the main one is that you can know someone for years and still be surprised by them.  You never know how your heart might change: Ross got the girl after more than a decade, and Monica and Chandler didn’t fall in love until they went to London.  (This raises some questions about London being the new Capital of Romance, but we can come back to that another time.)

Obviously it would be nice to think that the lion’s share of my knowledge comes from books, lectures and academia in general, but I don’t think that it does.  I’m not convinced that that’s such a bad thing, though: surely as long as we are learning something, the source is not too important.

That’s what I’ll tell myself while I stick BBC iPlayer on, anyway.  Have a great Monday.