Theo Millward, Managing Director of Stagetime and Swimtime, looks at the transferability of Performing Arts skills into everyday working life.
Just over 6 years ago I returned to Shrewsbury having been away for the previous 6 years studying for my degree and, more recently, working in London. Coming back to my home town after so long away I was looking to meet new people. I decided to refresh my singing skills with my old singing teacher but, this being a rather solitary enterprise, she recommended that I contact Mad Cow Productions for a more social experience.
At that time I was working in senior management, taking on the first major role in my career. It was hugely complex, challenging and completely engulfed my life. Initially I saw performing arts as a release - the thought of performing on stage in front of hundreds of people scared me so much I stopped thinking about work! It became the only hobby that allowed me this reprieve from the stresses of my career.
While there was never any doubt in my mind that I would find the experience of being on stage enjoyable, what took me aback was the transferability of the skills I was learning into everyday life.
Within a few months the enhancements to my career became clear. I became more perceptive, able to recognise subtle changes in body language; my public speaking became more engaging and I even found myself having better posture at meetings and events. I was totally stunned by the breadth of skills my hobby was giving me off stage.
A couple of years ago I was on a business trip in China, part of which involved giving a speech to over a hundred Chinese delegates. As I looked out at the faces of the audience during my speech I had a light bulb moment; even though my words were being translated into Mandarin by a translator I realised that, before that translation had happened, the audience were already with me because of my body language, gestures and vocalisation. It was an extremely powerful and overwhelming experience and credit to a unique set of skills that I had learned through performing arts.
This experience made me wonder where I would be now had I learnt these vital, transferable life skills even earlier in my life. There and then I made the decision that, one day, I wanted to pass these important skills on to children.
In the summer of 2016, the stars aligned and having teamed up with some truly extraordinarily talented and passionate people, Stagetime was born. I am desperately proud of what we have achieved in a relatively short period of time and look forward to watching our students grow both on stage and off.