A Step Forward
July 15th, 2016 by Holly Kellingray
During my second year of the Acting course at the Arts University Bournemouth, Gary Bates lead a workshop introducing and demonstrating the work of the drama-based Learning and Development company Steps. Following Gary’s visit and the introduction to facilitation and forum theatre, I was eager to learn more about Steps and so organised a week of work experience for my summer break. Prior to this, I probably wouldn’t have thought about the corporate world as a career prospect. However, I would say that as a developing actor, one thing that drives me is making a difference, whether small or big - and from my understanding of Steps, making a difference plays a part in all the Learning and Development projects the team are involved in.
I was lucky enough to observe one of the company meetings, which take place at the beginning of every month. There was an immediate positive vibe from all of the in-house team; there was a clear sense of hard work, support and cooperation from everyone. I began to understand the wide spread of roles within the company and how every role matters.
My first observation of a facilitated session was a 90-minute session with a new client. The three associates that were involved in this project were very experienced and talented Actor Facilitators. The support from one associate to another was evident during and after the session; this reminded me of the support my fellow students and I give to each other throughout our course. It was an excellent insight into the ways a professional Actor Facilitator works in a real situation and identify the skills required from a successful Actor Facilitator.
I also observed one of Steps’ bigger projects, a customer service programme for one of London’s major service organisations. This is a programme which will run for 2 years, making it a slightly different project for Steps – and shows the diverse and adaptable nature of the work they do. From observing the reactions of the delegates during their 2-day training, it is apparent that both the content of the programme and the knowledge shown by the Actor Facilitators is relatable and relevant. Steps is extremely thorough with the research phase, which ensures their programmes are accurate and successful. I loved observing these sessions because I could see the impact Steps’ training was having upon individuals from the first day into the second day.
I managed to observe 6 different Actor Facilitators at this training which was priceless as I could see the different ways facilitators work with different groups of people, and I believe that observation is as important as practice when learning. I joined these associates at an internal session with Steps, where they focused on the obstacles the Actor Facilitators’ have faced so far and how to work with these obstacles, which was massively helpful to hear. This shows how Steps really invest time in their associates.
Taking a step in the other direction, I experienced a meeting with an existing client regarding some new training. Steps aspires for good relationships with clients, working together to build the best of the best - and I think this shows how exceptional Steps is. I have always thought that the sound of a ‘meeting’ with another company or organisation sounded intimidating so I was unsure what attending would be like, however, because of the good relationship Steps has built and continue to build with companies, it was intriguing and motivating. I can appreciate the hard work, organisation and specific research that needs to take place on each project.
In the recent year I have taken an interest in script writing and experimenting with different story structures, so it was a great opportunity to be able to look through some scripts - specifically and carefully written for clients. And from this, I intend to continue exploring the world of script writing.
I feel extremely privileged that I have had this opportunity and I have been made to feel more than welcome by everyone I have met along the way. With the invaluable experience and great knowledge I have gained this week, I will undoubtedly be in contact with Steps again and hope to work with such talented people again. Thank you to everyone at Steps who I had the opportunity to meet, for making my week as beneficial and inspiring as it was.