What am I? I discuss the multiple hats we must all wear in this industry and chat to Jon Tozzi from Paper Creatures Theatre in Episode 2 of the Making Theatre Podcast.

 

I am a director, but I also write plays. I sometimes act, and I host a monthly podcast about making theatre. What am I?

What a delicious little riddle this is. It feels like something which could have been written by Tolkien and where the answer is something like ‘wind’. Alas, I am not anything as exciting or abstract as ‘wind’. What I am is an artist who does more than one thing in the arts; I wear many hats, if you like.

I discuss this approach to working with Jon Tozzi from Paper Creatures Theatre, my hat-loving guest on this episode. During the interview, I discovered that we also share a dislike of being tied down to one area of theatre making. However, a lot of my experience looking for work in the arts has been that the ‘industry’ prefers you to focus on doing just one thing. It’s fine if you dabble elsewhere, but contain your primary identity to one area.

“What else are you doing at the moment, director Geoff?”

“Well, apart from these 3 other directing things I’m doing, I dabble in playwriting and I have a monthly podcast.”

“That’s exciting.”

“But I’m mainly a director. Directing is my thing.”

However, it does seem acceptable to present yourself in totally different ways depending on the context, though. Replay my little dialogue swapping the words “playwright” and “director” for example. I do not feel right limiting myself in this way. I am all of these things together. It feels disingenuous suggesting that I am mainly one, and that the others are hobbies or side-projects. I like my many hats.

What’s more, I think you have to have multiple hats to survive in this business. Whether you’ve got your ‘money job’ so you can afford to be an actor, you’re acting in a show as well as writing two others, or whatever your situation, almost all of us do more than one thing.

So here’s the conundrum. If the industry can get worried about people who have multiple pursuits (and most of us do), how are the people who’re getting work doing it?

I think the answer is simple, if not easy. It has to do with how you present yourself.

Now, I do understand why potential employers are more likely to offer you a job if you are clear that one thing is your main thing. I don’t even think they mind if that’s just the picture you’re painting for them, as long as you’re committed to what you’re selling them. As someone who has employed people, I want to know your focus will be on the job you’re doing for me. Red flags go up if I read a CV which is trying to sell me expertise in too many areas. “I’m a stage manager and an actor and a producer and I’m expert at all of them and I’ve been doing all of them for a bazillion years.”

If this is you, the solution is actually really simple. Have at least 3 different CVs. It’s laborious and time consuming, but you have to research the person or institution you’re applying to. You build a CV for that job and present those parts of yourself which are best suited to that job.

Jon has a very optimistic perspective. As someone who is both an actor and running a theatre company, he presents himself as an actor in auditions but talks passionately about his work with Paper Creatures when he’s asked what else he’s up to. He argues that we should celebrate our diverse interests. Paint a clear picture of what you’re doing but don’t hide all your lovely, quirky endeavours.

 

Paper Creatures Theatre’s second play, Section 2, is part of the Bunker Theatre’s Breaking Out season, and will be playing every Tuesday and Friday from 11 June – 7 July.

To discover more about Miro Magazine’s partnership with Geoff and to listen to all episodes of his Making Theatre Podcast, click here. To download or listen to the Making Theatre Podcast on iTunes, click here.

Any views and opinions expressed in the podcast are those of the author(s) and may not directly reflect the position of Miro Magazine.