Introducing the newest member of staff at the Lyric, Mark McIlhagga, as he joins the team as Creative Learning Intern. We chatted to Mark about his take on what a role like this has to offer and what challenges he will have to overcome in such a position.What was your motivation in applying for the role of Creative Learning Intern?
I’ve been in involved with different projects in the Lyric Theatre over the last few years so applying for the internship was a no brainer; the opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time for me. As a result of my involvement, I was well versed in a lot of what the department does and although a lot of my previous work has come from acting and performing, the idea of exploring a theatre from the core and see where projects begin was too good an opportunity to pass up.
During my interview for the post I explained my thorough interests in facilitating and teaching which fit extremely well with the Creative Learning Department’s ethos. I have always had an interest in the production side of theatre and how projects are managed so to say I am excited to start my internship here at the Lyric is an understatement.
Did you have any reservations about doing an internship during lockdown?
Holding down a job in theatre at the minute can seem like an extremely daunting thing to try and do, let alone starting a new position but being involved with an organization like the Lyric that doesn’t back down when faced with the many obstacles brought about by this pandemic is exactly where I want to say I was during lockdown.
What has been your experience with the Lyric Theatre before taking on this internship?
I have worked a lot with the Lyric over the past 5 years, first attending the Drama Studio in September 2016, this gave me my first real insight into working in a professional theatre. From there I helped where I could with other projects and used the resources readily provided for Drama Studio alumni to further my knowledge.
In 2019 I took part in a week long devising course organized by Creative Learning and facilitated by Jess Williams. This opportunity led me to pursue physical theatre devising and I was successful in gaining a place on Frantic Assembly’s Ignition project. My best work to date then came at the start of last year when I worked on Hydebank Activate 2020 and the Lyric’s Eco Project. Two amazingly versatile projects that helped me really cement myself within the world of theatre and allowed me to gain experiences I will never forget.
How do you feel now you’ve finished your first week?
I am well aware, given the current climate, a job in theatre is not going to be easy. The adaption of projects that usually rely on live, face to face interaction, to what we are seeing theatre’s today produce has been interesting to watch. Ensuring that the department achieve their goals is crucial within Northern Ireland; the role it plays in the wider society and the work it does with schools and young people is second to none. As my grandfather would say, ‘If you’ve no muck on your wellies, you weren’t in the field’, and I am prepared to get bogged down if it means people continue to receive the services this theatre provides and learn how to keep that up for the future.