Who is Who of HSPA: Featuring Me!

A few weeks ago my High School reached out as they are starting a "Who is Who of HSPA" and they wanted me to talk about my life out in the industry so far. I thought I'd take a moment to share the interview with you.

Name: Joshua Broadbent

When did you attend HSPA? 2008 - 2010

How did you get into the performing arts? What Performing Art did you come to HSPA for?

My story starts all the way back in 2002 when I joined Young People’s Theatre at the age of 10, and for the following 8 years I attended drama classes every single Saturday. It was during these classes that I realised that being an actor was a serious career option… but as you will read, that didn’t happen!

I have always been so lucky to have the world’s most supportive parents, who without them I wouldn’t be able to achieve the things I do today, and so it was because of them I made the brave move to auditioning for my very first production in 2007, Charlotte’s Web.  Two years later, and a couple more productions I decided that I would audition for HSPA, because I knew it would help me further my career in theatre. 

What inspired you to get into theatre?

Musicals. There is something about the toe tapping numbers, the chance to sing along, the beautifully choreography performance and the somewhat incredibly large sets that really draws me to Musical Theatre. Even still to this day they inspire me. Growing up we would often spend weekends in Sydney watching the latest musical out. I believe the first production I ever saw was the 1999 production of The Sound Of Music (starring Lisa McCune), and from then I saw every single musical Australia had to offer, from The Lion King to Pricilla, Billy Elliot, Avenue Q, Legally Blonde, Hairspray and Wicked. The list is growing every year.

And currently I get to live my childhood dreams 6 days a week, 8 shows, and over 50 hours of musical adventures! While I may have stopped performing back in 2012, I am currently touring with The Wizard of Oz as the Assistant Stage Manager.

What made you realise you wanted to be behind the scenes?

While performing in Charlotte’s Web, I realised that there are so many more elements of theatre that most people don’t realise exisit, and without all the elements together the show would not go on. Young People’s Theatre produces around 4 shows per year, following Charlottes Web and for the next 5 years I continued to explore these other elements, working behind the scenes all under the guidance of Wendy Leis, a very dear friend and a great mentor.

Wendy always made sure that I was continuing performing, but often allowed me to be working in the shadows at the same time, for example in 2012, not only was I onstage as Johan in Hansel and Gretel I was also the lighting designer. To this date I have over 35 credits with YPT, and quite often you will see me there on production weekend with a notebook in hand, as a sort of technical advisor. YPT is home, and I am thrilled to return and teach my skills every year to those who are seeking to step off stage and into the wings. 

What is a Stage Manager?

Come along to my next workshop at YPT and you’ll learn, because honestly the list is endless.

 We are there from the start of rehearsals to the end of the season. We sit, we notate, we assist, we email, we schedule, we are the eyes in the room that sees all. Once we get to the theatre we are the ones that hold the power in our hands. Often hidden away in a dark corner (usually wherever we can fit, because each show and each theatre requires a different amount of space) and we call the show. Every single thing that happens from lights, sound, automation and even some crew moments are all initiated from us, nothing moves without the word GO. 

You would be surprised that 99% of the time we cannot see the stage, so we rely on 5 tiny monitors, and the eyes of our Stage Management team to show us what is happen. (Views: Birdseye, shot from Opposite Prompt, Conductor Monitor, Infrared from front of house, and a colour from front of house).

How did you get into Stage Management?

After graduating from HSPA, I spent the next two years working casually and spending every spare second creating theatre at YPT. I had applied for CSU's Bachelor of Stage and Screenand was accepted but the more I looked at it the more I realised it wasn’t for me. In 2012 I applied for NIDA’s Bachelor of Dramatic Art (Production), or as it’s known today Bachelor of Fine Art Technical Theatre and Stage Management, and was accepted.

What does this course allow you to do?

This course opens a world of possibilities in terms of career goals. It’s a sort of choose your own adventure once you graduate, because you can easily move into any field. It’s a three-year course, two of which you spend in the classroom studying the necessities, from lighting, sound, stage and event management and so much more. The final year you get to spend time out in the industry on secondments. During those three years you have the opportunity to stage manage, technical manage and design for the productions that NIDA produces. 

I was lucky enough during my third year to work with some incredible companies of Australian Theatre and Events. I started my secondments with The City of Sydney for the 2015 New Year’s Eve celebrations, moving onto Opera Australia’s production of Aida which played out in the elements on Sydney Harbour, and finally four months working with the Australian team for the premiere of Matilda the Musical.

After graduating, what came next?

Well currently it has been three years since I graduated from Uni, and it has been nonstop! I have been really lucky to be employed by two out of three of my secondments, returning back to The City of Sydney in 2016 as a Site Manager and 2017 as the Citywide Infrastructure Assistant, and I even went back to Matilda the Musical for their final three months in Sydney. I’ve also been back to NIDA a few times. I’ve worked for the Australian Theatre for Young People. I’ve been a freelance Stage Manager. Right now I have been working with The Gordon Frost Organisation for the last year.

What is the biggest challenge that comes with your job?

The biggest challenge that comes with being a Stage Manager is also one of my favourite parts of why I love theatre, its LIVE! 

You’ve got to be really quick on your feet, but also be able to think logically, you never know when something can happen, and being the person in control you need to figure out the solution. That could be a show stop, or an important prop has all of a sudden broken, perhaps working with children and their somewhat unexpectant nature, which you could say the same to my current job and working with dogs. 

Being able to keep your cool, and stay focused is most important. But really, I love it, and that’s why I do it! 

Any advice for aspiring theatre makers?

The road ahead is not going to be easy, you will have to work for it. Life is like snakes and ladders, as you move throughout school you climb up the ladder, once you head to Uni you move back to the bottom, and start your climb again. It’s the same once you get out into the industry. 

A university course does not mean you know it all, it will only teach you one perspective. It will teach you the skills, but not the attitude, so always know your place. You should always be open to learning and allowing yourself to grow once you are in the industry. Finally, my last bit of advice is that trust is huge, and you will have to work for it, but it all starts with trusting yourself.

Who knows what you will be doing in 10 years time, but you never know you might be the next stage Manager.