26 May 2019

Practitioner Selection Day

Written by: Polly Ferguson-Carruthers.


What happens when a room is filled with drama facilitators? A space becomes alive and animated! People may start off feeling nervous & anxious however they will end up leaving feeling empowered, capable, seen and heard!

Doorstep Arts had the pleasure of meeting a group of drama facilitators who were all eager to gain work as professional drama facilitators in the South West.  We worked in partnership with Bigfoot Theatre Company, Little Youth Theatre & Exeter University to deliver a successful Selection Day to support new and existing artists to work across theatre companies & schools in and around Devon. We had the joy of seeing different approaches to facilitation, new and classic ways of leading games, listening to work experiences and observing different ways of delivery. Each applicant was asked to share games, direct segments of script and plan workshops for all ages.   



It was a great opportunity for Doorstep to work in collaboration with other companies, not only for us to network but also to show facilitators the importance of companies working together. The life of a freelance artist can have someone working in multiple locations and organisations, so it’s important to show that not all companies are in mass competition and that we can work smarter together rather than apart.


All lead artist on the day felt delighted with how the workshop went. Each participant brought a ‘can do’ attitude and deserved to be there. The applicants had the chance to try out games in a safe, encouraging environment, with the support that if it didn’t go to plan, it was ok! Everyone got involved in being silly and becoming children for the 3 hours. It was a chance to learn and understand more about planning, and to make your life easier and not harder. To explore other styles and positions as a facilitator, exploring the world of early years, directing and topic planning.  The workshop gave everyone a chance to take the lead but also have moments where they could sit back and listen, which are all key integral moment as facilitators.


Due to the success from the day and the feedback we received from the applicants, we intend to deliver a facilitation day annually.  It’s important there is a place for the artist to network, talk about experiences, gain contacts, share games and learn important elements of being a freelancer such as insurance, DBS checks and accounts.

It was a real privilege to meet each and every one of the participants and we look forward to supporting, encouraging and potentially working with them in the future.

Selection Days can fill people with dread so we have a few important tips to help you when attending one in future!



  • No one likes going into a room and not knowing what to expect, so it’s important you prepare yourself as much as possible. We can never know exactly what’s going to happen in a selection day but there are little things you can do to make yourself feel a little more confident stepping into that room. Ask friends who have been to selection days what it was like and what to expect. Learn about the company, try to find out about the individuals leading the day and the style in which they work. Be as bold to contact the company and ask them what to expect from the day. The more you know, the less of a shock it will be when they ask you to do something out of your comfort zone!


  • A good selection day should be able to allow participants to feel relaxed however this isn’t always the case. There can be a tense atmosphere, competition and fear in these settings. You may compare yourself to others, feel a sense of not belonging and a constant question of your ability. However, a professional selection day will at least attempt to ensure all participants are made to feel comfortable and appreciated for attending in the first place. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that everyone starts someone and ensure you do all you can prior to attending, to give yourself the best start.


  • ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS make sure you are wearing comfortable clothing that you won’t need to adjust throughout the day. This will only hold you back and clothes should be something that you shouldn’t even be thinking about! If attending an audition, black clothing is good, allowing directors to see you as a blank canvas.


  • Always give yourself enough time! Plan your journey before and always have a backup plan if public transport is delayed. Aim to be there at least 20 minutes before, this will give you time to settle in and not be in a rush.  Planning is key! 


  • The number of people we meet who miss exciting career opportunities due to them thinking they are just not good enough. Remember in this industry you are constantly learning and whether you are just starting out as a facilitator or have 20 years experience, you will always have new challenges thrown at you. Just see it as your tool kit growing each time you put yourself out there. Everyone has to start someone, so don’t be the reason you never started your journey at all. Go for it!


  • You could be in a room with anything from 20 to 60 applicants so you must stand out for a good reason. When giving your cv, put your picture on as this always helps companies to remember you when discussing after. Put yourself forward to volunteer, be a can-do person, show leadership skills but also the ability to step back and listen to others and not be overpowering.  Don’t be afraid to talk to leaders in the break, put yourself out there. If you don’t ask, you will never know!


Every selection day can vary depending on the company. This is what our Selection Day looked like:

  • Welcome & Housekeeping
  • Activity lead by one of our lead facilitator.
  • Applicant activity – Time to shine. If you have been asked to prepare something, now is your turn to show what you can do. Companies are looking to see you can explain your task clearly, bring energy to the space, have an objective to your activity and allow the participant to enjoy themselves.
  • Group task – a chance for a company to see how you work as a team.
  • Planning activity – a chance for a company to see if you can work on creating a lesson plan or various themes.
  • Closing of the event, feedback and what happens next.


  • Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. How can a facilitator better themselves if they don’t receive feedback? Some of the best lead practitioners we work with always want feedback and often are their own worst critic, always trying to find ways to better their practice. Asking for feedback can be a vulnerable position to be in but it’s imperative for growth and development. Feedback can make you a stronger person, so if you want to grow, don’t be afraid to ask for it!


  • You may not get the outcome you were initially wishing for but what do you do next. Don’t give up. Go and gain more experience. Offer to volunteer, shadow facilitators that inspire you, attend workshops, go on courses, develop your skill sets, network and support your local art events. The list is endless to make a successful career as a facilitator.


If you are interested in attending one of our Selection days or need support in leading your own selection day please contact polly@doorsteparts.co.uk.