New Vic Theatre: The Snow Queen. Photo by Andrew Billington
Emily Clarke (image by Andrew Billington)
Tell us about your early life. What were your goals and dreams?
I remember working hard at school and knowing that I wanted to do well. My favourite subject was English and I also loved Drama, although I knew quite early on that I was not meant for the stage! We didn’t go to the theatre much as a family, but I do remember going on trips with school – I remember seeing Twelfth Night at the Lace Market Theatre in Nottingham and I loved the experience.
My earliest memory of thinking about what I wanted to do when I grew up was watching Julia Sawalha and Dexter Fletcher in CITV’s Press Gang. I was in Primary School but I knew for absolute definite that I wanted to be a journalist from watching that show. And that was the goal all the way through school, college and university. I did work for a short time as a ‘journalist’ on a small set of free papers in Derby, but after 18 months in that role, I discovered that while I loved the writing, I didn’t actually enjoy the job. When I took those rose-tinted glasses off, I reassessed my skills and started to look for something where I could utilise my love of writing in a creative environment.
Talk us through your career journey. What were the influential periods, or experiences?
My life in theatre started when I got the job as Marketing Assistant at Derby Playhouse in 2004. I worked there for just under two years and it really shaped my ideas about what I wanted to achieve in my career. The Assistant role allowed me to get experience of the whole marketing mix – I managed the production of show programmes, organised mailings and print distribution, put up posters and handed out promotional balloons amongst other things. I learned a great deal from the team in Derby, and I had a lot of fun learning the ropes.
I left Derby to become Print & Publications Manager at Royal & Derngate in Northampton, and after two years, I was promoted to the role of Marketing Manager there. Working here gave me the opportunity to further develop my marketing toolkit, and gain a better understanding of the wider theatre industry, as I got the chance to work on both produced and touring work. This is definitely the place I honed my skills for juggling large workloads and deadlines!
I left Northampton in 2010 to become Communications Manager at Sheffield Theatres. I’d had an ambition to work here since my early days of working in theatre and it was a fantastic time. During the six years I was there, I got the opportunity to work with some amazing, inspiring people and worked on some incredible productions (and some brilliant marketing campaigns too!). There was a real sense of the team there striving for excellence in everything we did, which has really instilled in me a sense of wanting to do the best work possible in everything I do.
I moved to the New Vic at the end of 2016 to take up the role of Head of Marketing & Communications. As part of the Senior Management Team here, I’ve had the opportunity to work on our NPO application, and have recently been leading on our next Audience Development Plan.
It’s been a busy, but extremely fulfilling first year and it’s been so wonderful to work with a close knit team who are so passionate about the New Vic and the work we create.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
I am incredibly proud to be Head of Marketing & Communications at the New Vic and be working in such a unique theatre. The passion that my colleagues and our audiences have for this venue is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before and I feel so honoured to be able to work as part of this team.
But there’s so much I’m proud of in my career and since I usually plan and remember my life on the basis of the shows that were happening at the time, some of my proudest achievements include working on Royal & Derngate’s American double-bill of Beyond The Horizon and Spring Storm (which then transferred to the National); working with the team in Sheffield on the first production of The Full Monty (directed by Daniel Evans and co-produced with David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers) and on This Is My Family, (a new musical written by Tim Firth and directed by Daniel Evans in Sheffield), and seeing the New Vic’s production of The Snow Queen (adapted and directed by Theresa Heskins) win the UK Theatre Award for Best Show for Children and Young People at this year’s awards.
What are you working on at the moment?
2018 is a big celebration year for circus – it’s 250 years since the first circus ring was drawn out. Philip Astley, who was responsible for drawing out that first circus ring and creating circus as we know it, was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme so we’re producing a season of work to celebrate his legacy, working with local, national and international partners to bring audiences something quite spectacular. So, I’m spending a lot of time immersed in thoughts and conversations about circus at the moment.
- Kirk Hallam Community School – 1992 – 1997
- South East Derbyshire College (A Levels) – 1997 – 1999
- Sheffield Hallam University (BA Hons English Studies) – 1999 - 2002
- Marketing Assistant, Derby Playhouse – 2004 – 2006
- Print & Publications Manager/Marketing Manager, Royal & Derngate, Northampton – 2006 – 2010
- Communications Manager, Sheffield Theatres – 2010 – 2016
- Head of Marketing & Communications, New Vic Theatre – 2016 – present
- Life’s not a dress rehearsal – take all opportunities you can, when they arise, and learn from the people around you
- Remember to enjoy it – it’s so busy in our industry and often when you’re working to tight deadlines, it’s easy to forget why you love what you do. Taking time to remind yourself why you love it is so important.
- No amount of guilt can change the past, no amount of anxiety can change the future – building a resilience is important.
New Vic Theatre auditorium. Photography by Andrew Billington