November 19, 2012

Spolight on Alumni: Emily Grindrod

Emily Grindrod Emily Grindrod rowing on Lake Bled in Slovenia

Emily Grindrod (BFA Theatre Production 2010) focused on the management side of theatre. In her final year at York James McKernan linked her up with Michael Kelly's company, Shakespeare in Action. Over the next two years she worked on 6 of their shows as well as working with other companies such as Hart House Theatre, Volcano, and Toronto Operetta Theatre. She also worked at the Harbourfront centre where she enjoyed dipping into the events world. In April Emily made the move to Europe, where she currently lives with no fixed address, changing countries every few days while she works as a Tour Leader with Topdeck Travel. She is currently taking a month off in Granada, Spain.

Please tell us about what you're up to these days, and about some of the most exciting work that you've done since graduating.

Since leaving York I worked for about a year and a half in theatre and also in events. I was working with a few different companies as an apprentice stage manager, in fact right I had just finished my apprenticeship when I took a step in another direction. I also worked at the Harbourfront Centre for a little under a year and I realized that I really enjoyed the organizing of events side of my work. It was there that I worked with a girl who used to be a Tour Leader for an Australian tour company based in the UK and this really sparked my interest. I realized that I could combine my love for travel, history and the wonderful experience of creating memories for people with my organizational skills, time management and people skills. So now I am a Tour Leader for Topdeck Travel and I love every day of my job, getting to show people the Eiffel Tower for the first time, taking them to Monte Carlo Casino, sailing in Greece or explaining Roman history in front of the Colosseum is amazing, introducing people to new cultures, foods and experieces is a real pleasure. I also use so many skills that I developed in theatre@York. From the first day of my training trip – when the trainees do a 7 week lap of Europe studying the culture and history and presenting it as well as doing things like mastering the local transport system and getting our feet wet in the locations that our trips visit so that we can give passengers relevant local information. My training binder looked like a stage managers book (very organized and colour coded) and it helped me so much during the trip. I felt that theatre school had helped me for my training trip, the long nights studying, time management, front loading assingments and also being able to see the bigger picture and go above and beyond. Even my training in theatre before I went into production has helped me in my current job, as every day I get up on the coach microphone and talk about the history and culture of the city or country we are going in to, it is important to be able to story tell in a way that people will remember and be engaged. And I can’t even start on how glad I am that I almost never missed a Viz class – that has helped me so much with my European architecture knowledge. The problem solving and people skills that I learned during my degree as well as my experiences in the theatre world after have also really helped me in my current role. I treat every trip like a big event and have made some fantastic friends in the people that I work with, there just aren’t many jobs out there that are like this.

Colliseum in Rom during a walking tour of Rome in front of the Coliseum

Do you have any advice or tips for York students just entering the dept.?

Don’t give up an opportunity to volunteer for something. That is how you get to know people outside of your year, making contacts that can be useful later. Getting your hands dirty also will allow you to learn things outside of the classroom and if people see you as reliable and a hard and willing worker it will pay off in the future. At the same time (and this probably contradicts my first bit of advice) don’t lose a sense of who you are amongst all the work, still make time for friends, go out, pursue hobbies. It sounds a little lofty but you can get really bogged down in the day to the day life inside the theatre buildings. Always keep an eye on the bigger picture.

Florence at sunset

Did connections, friendships, relationships you made at York help you afterward?

ABSOLUTELY. Recommendations for jobs often came from upper years that I had worked with and were friends with. Advice is always passed around freely amongst York graduates. Often when going to a new gig the Yorkies will find each other and find out who they know in common, it was really nice having common ground with people. I did some work with people who were doing their graduate degrees while I was doing my undergraduate degree and that was a great experience too. My professors and the support staff also helped me out immensely, I still am in contact with some of them. I don’t think that there are many degrees  when you feel so close to the teaching staff. As for the friends that you make, you do become very close to your class mates, especially when you are working with them in practicum and although I have made some great friends in Europe, I definitely miss my “theatre family”.

What was your favourite place at York, and why?

A tie between the Ab (for obvious reasons) and the Wardrobe, it was always a place where there was warmth, laughter and often baked goods.