Louise Blackwell

David Doust (Chichester University graduate) on his time interning with me

November 2018

Hi. My name is David and I’m a recent graduate from the University of Chichester Theatre course. I’m a freelance producer creating a platform for emerging artists in Bournemouth with the company I co-founded called Pests Production (I’ve linked our website and social media at the bottom of this piece).


Over the last two months I’ve had, thanks to my university’s theatre department, Dr Brian Lobel and Louise herself, the absolute privilege of shadowing, witnessing, observing and spending time with Louise. I expected my time with Louise to be eye opening, informative and, if I’m really honest, a little intimidating. When she sent me the plan for what I’d be doing with her, the number of people I knew to be ‘important arts people’ made me a little nervous. I knew I’d learn loads from my time with Louise in a professional sense, I’ve picked her brains about all that I can think of, but the thing I least expected before I’d begun was how much genuine fun I’d have and how kind every person I’d meet would be.


Every event I’ve attended, every meeting/gathering or show, I’ve always felt so welcomed, so not the intruder or tagalong that I felt I might be before I began. I’ve been made to feel a genuine importance, my voice listened to, and my thoughts understood. It makes me so happy, invigorated and excited to be entering into our industry with the experiences of kindness and care that I have to start me off. Especially seeing as social media is probably how I engaged most with the wider industry and arts sector, and I’ve read more stories of awful behaviour and people being treated badly than anything else.


The above introduction was the first thing I learned from Louise, and it confirmed something that Brian always had us doing in our company management module. That lesson was ‘Know Your Sentence’, not only that, its about delivering the sentence (when spoken) with confidence. I distinctly remember, in one of the first days with Louise, I introduced myself and said “I’m trying to create a platform”, and it might have been an offhand comment from Louise, but it stuck, when she said “You’re not trying, you are”.


I find it so reassuring when you have something you’ve been taught reinforced by a different person in a different context which brings me on to lesson number 2 ‘being kind’. Producing involves nurturing trust and relationships with people, institutions and organisations, who are all, when you boil it down, still just people. Again, something that was regularly brought up in classes with Brian was, and it should just absolutely apply to all aspects of life at all times and its upsetting that it doesn’t, being kind and caring will help you more than anything else.


I’ve been lucky enough to witness that in everyone I’ve met on the internship. I’ve learned that, despite what feels like increasing economic pressure to act within a certain financial structure or adhere to certain tropes, there are people that are willing to reject those for a more democratic, inclusive and affordable one. Most of all I feel I’ve learned that, despite what at times feels like an absolute gulf between the ‘professional’ and hoping/working towards becoming ‘professional’, there’s none of the us/them, clique group dynamic that you occasionally get lured into believing there is.


My favourite moment of the internship, and I think I knew it at the time, came when I went to Manchester with Louise to see a preview for the show ‘Summit’ written by Andy Smith. The show, by the way, is brilliant. The moment, however, came post-show, when the cast and crew were gathered a) for a post show check out to discuss how they feel that run and the previous week had gone and b) The celebration that they’d done it, they’d made a thing they were proud of and shown it. I loved this moment partly because I was an outsider watching people that had really made me feel welcome feel great and that was beautiful to watch but mostly, because 24 hours later, the first event that Pests were producing (a Drag/Cabaret called Dragonfly), was taking place and I knew I’d be at the centre of the post-show ‘we made a thing’ celebration.


Seeing the moments of parallel, but scaled up or down, between the start of my career and Louise’s fills me with the idea that ‘yes I can do this’ and, it feels to me, a lot of the time in anything, let alone the arts, you’re constantly questioning ‘is it right?’ ‘Am I doing what I should be doing?’. The points where my internship has been a window into the human side of being professional in the arts have been by far the beneficial, as they seem to be the thing we share the least at any ‘this is what it means to be X’ talk or event.


I’d like to finish this by saying an unbelievably big thank you to Louise for having me and giving me a really great glimpse into what she does and wants the arts to be. To everyone that worked on Summit, the Lookout project, the team I met at Fevered Sleep and Clod Ensemble, for giving me your time, allowing my presence and interacting with me. A special thank you to Naomi Alexander and everyone I met while at meetings for Brighton People’s Theatre, you’ve shaped how I want to place art in the world.


That is the end of the blog official. I’d like to do a really quick post scriptum, which is just some plugging but, as Louise introduced me to the Summit team by telling them about this project, I think she won’t mind. I’m a football fan (Liverpool) and my team haven’t won the league in many years (28). I’m trying to record my reaction to the exact moment that next happens, meaning I have to record every moment of every game until it does. These recording are posted at 28yearsandwaiting.wordpress.com. They’re about 2-3 minutes long and are released after each game. Have a look if you can! I promise they’re quite amusing.


Thank you again Louise.



Pests Production: pestsproduction.co.uk

Twitter and Insta: @Pestsproduction

Facebook: www.facebook.co.uk/Pestsproduction