Georgia Heaselgrave

Writer | Singer | Blogger & Content Creator

Georgia Heaselgrave is a Theatre and Performance graduate originally from the West Midlands. With a passion for storytelling, she is a budding writer and director interested in musical theatre and naturalistic plays holding socio-political or female-centric themes. Georgia was selected to take part in the National Theatre’s Young Producing Course and holds credits including Assistant Director for Bonnie & Clyde at The Other Palace (London, 2017) and Director for Bring It On: The Musical, University of Surrey (Guildford, 2019). Her skills extend from singing and teaching to movement direction and dramaturgy. Georgia runs a successful blog (@geeblogs) with content on beauty, fashion and lifestyle. Most recently she has launched Foot in the Door, an interview series exposing the honest difficulties of job-hunting as a creative graduate.

I spoke with Georgia in June 2021 about employment in the creative industries, the process of directing, writing and building an online profile.

© Georgia Heaselgrave

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When did you realise you wanted to study Theatre and Performance and what made you choose the University of Surrey? 

It actually took me a while to decide on Theatre and Performance as my chosen subject when I was applying for university. I looked at lots of different courses, from Law to Psychology but (with the risk of sounding cheesy) I always knew that Theatre had my heart. I’d been a Youth Theatre member for most of my life and whilst it had always been just a hobby, I wanted to develop my skillset and learn more about the industry.

Surrey was an easy, pretty much instant, decision. Within a few minutes of the initial Open Day, I knew it was the place I wanted to end up. The course stood out in terms of its range of content – I loved the fact that in my second and third years, I was able to take English and Dance modules on top of my core theatre ones. This helped me graduate as a well-rounded, creatively confident individual.

After graduating in 2019 what were your career ambitions and, upon reflection, how has this materialised?

As I went through the course, my career ambitions fluctuated which I think is pretty normal! I began wanting to write and direct my own work and left wanting to do the same, so I’d say I came full circle. Throughout my final year, I began reaching out and emailing industry professionals in the hope of securing some work experience.

Long story short, networking is hard! Especially when a global pandemic completely shuts down the industry you have trained in. I’m not ashamed to say I received countless ‘thanks but no thanks’ emails and more often than not, was met with no response at all. I quickly found out how much the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ – sadly – applies to the arts.

This led me to consider other ways in which I could work creatively and I started as a writer for a PR agency back in November 2020, covering press releases, blog posts and social media content for a wide variety of clients.

Fast forward almost eight months and I now work as a Beauty and Fashion PR Lead, which allows me to combine skills learnt from my time at university and those developed whilst out in the big, wide, post-graduate world.

Do you have any advice for prospective undergraduate students unsure which educational route is best to prepare for a creative career?

Personally, I think it’s less about the educational route you take and more about ensuring that you are in an environment that allows your creativity to develop and flourish. So long as you are surrounded by supportive, like-minded people, you will find your way! Obviously, I took the route of going to university but by no means do you need to do the same in order to be successful creatively. It’s all about making connections and getting to know the type of work you want to craft and showcase. Join local clubs, turn that little lightbulb of an idea into a finished play and most importantly, stay creative.

What led you to launch your Foot in the Door blog series, addressing the post-university job hunt?

It was my own experience in the job-hunting scene that led me to launch ‘Foot in the Door’. Upon graduating, I felt like there was very little in the way of support for creative grads. Aside from being informed that Arts Jobs was a useful place to search for work opportunities, I was very unsure how to actually make the first step in building my career. I wanted to create a space where creative grads could share their personal experiences and most importantly, give specific examples of how they landed their first jobs in the industry. I hope that it can help future creatives in finding their way!

The creative job-market operates around a relentless cycle of needing experience for employment and needing employment for experience. This demand means that work placements are often offered as unpaid. What is your view on the argument that this exaggerates class divisions?

I would have to completely agree with the argument that unpaid work placements exaggerate class divisions. I think, due to the lack of funding, the theatre industry is still an extremely exclusive environment. These work placements aren’t just unpaid…you are paying to be there. For those not based in London, placements come with an added fee of travel and accommodation, which can rack up pretty quickly in the Big Smoke. This leaves a huge demographic of voices unheard, which is a part of the industry I really struggle with.

How do you think accessing the dance and theatre scene differs when comparing regional cities to London, both in employment opportunities and community engagement?

I think there is a huge pressure put on individuals who want to work in theatre that in order to be successful, they need to be in London. It’s true that employment opportunities are more accessible if you are based that way (with more theatres creating more jobs) but regional theatre also provides viable career opportunities.

What I have found personally is that community engagement tends to be more of a prominent focus regionally. My ‘local’ theatre, the Birmingham Hippodrome, has housed many projects that connected members of the area together, from Young Carer schemes to Youth Theatre groups. Whilst both regional and London theatre can offer employment and community engagement, both vary in terms of scale.

What was your experience of joining the National Theatre’s Young Producers’ Course and how did it present opportunities for you?

I was lucky enough to be selected for the National Theatre’s Young Producers’ Course at the beginning of 2020. Led by Tobi Kyeremateng, the week-long course was designed to bust the myths surrounding the world of theatre producing. We had so many amazing talks from a whole range of creatives who produced events from traditional theatre to festivals. After each talk, we were given time with the speakers to ask questions about how they got to their current role.

Alongside this, we learnt how to apply for Arts Council funding and designed our own projects from the prospective of a producer (budgeting, health and safety, venue etc). This experience was undoubtedly useful – I would 100% recommend it to anyone who is considering applying for future schemes at the National. All of the creatives were so helpful and open with their answers, many of them leaving contact details for further questions or future advice.

Over a year on, we all remain in contact via a group chat, posting regular life updates and creative opportunities.

What do you enjoy most about the process of Directing and which aspects do you find challenging?

My favourite thing about directing is actually working with the actors, seeing how choices they make can impact or shape the rehearsal process. Some of my highlights from working on shows have been moments where a line is delivered in a way I didn’t even consider it could be. The freedom of play within a text is what I love to work with. Seeing how far you can push the boundaries of speech or stage directions whilst still remaining true to the writer’s intent is always an exciting challenge.

How do you build a confident and trusting relationship between the cast and artistic team on a given production?

For me, it’s all about mutual respect. Your cast have to trust in your artistic capabilities, and you have trust in theirs. From my experience, it falls apart when the lines of professionalism are blurred!

Why do you feel it is important to present socio-political or female-centric themes on stage and what benefits are there (to both the audience and cast) in encouraging conversation?

What I’ve always loved about theatre is that it makes the taboo topics of the world more accessible. In the same way TV programmes get us talking about true-crime murder cases or the impact of losing a loved one, theatre makes these gritty issues tangible. When you’re in the same room as a character navigating their way through a certain situation, it provides a whole new level of connection to the content, and can help you reflect on your own morals, flaws and traits.

Female-centric theatre is extremely important to me. Countless years of male-domination within the arts in terms of character arcs, plot-lines and creative teams have shaped the mainstream theatre we see today, particularly in the musical sphere. Women’s stories have been viewed through male eyes for too long and often misrepresent key elements of the female experience. Theatre that accurately portrays womanhood helps to drive conversations surrounding historically misunderstood topics, creating an opportunity for change, open communication and clarity.

Is your passion for singing something you wish to keep as a hobby or do you intend to add performance to your professional portfolio? 

Singing is such a huge part of my life. My parents always joke that I was singing before I could talk! For a long time, I considered potentially pursuing a career in which I would have the opportunity to sing but I worried that my relationship with it would change as a result of the added pressure. I’d rather keep it as my favourite hobby than fall out of love with it. Never say never, but for now I’ll carry on blasting my musical theatre songs in the car and singing ballads on my bedroom floor!

When did you decide to explore the world of blogging and what motivated you to establish your @geeblogs channels?

I actually had an anonymous blog for a long time before I began @geeblogs. Towards the end of high school, I started a blog to review the books I’d had my nose stuck in each week. At the time, it wasn’t a particularly ‘cool’ thing to have (this was before the world went mad for bloggers!) and I was constantly worried that my friends at school would find out and think I was a little bit weird.

Fast-forward a couple of years and I was in my first year at university. I had been toying with the idea of creating a personal blog for a while but had never had the confidence to do it. Moving away from home definitely gave me the boost I needed to publish my first post and I haven’t looked back since! Over the years, my blog has shifted from more of a lifestyle-based space to have a larger focus on fashion and beauty. I started an Instagram account that accompanied my blog where I would share links to my posts with pictures that (at the time!) I thought looked ‘artsy’. Through a lot of trial and error, I now post regularly over on the account, sharing my outfits and makeup looks.

During the first lockdown, I was able to channel a lot of time and creativity into my account which has helped me career-wise in terms of securing beauty and fashion related work.

How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting this area of your work?

Running a blog is extremely time consuming – not only writing the posts but editing, shooting photos, piecing outfits together, staying on top of the latest trends, and so on. At the beginning of lockdown, I was furloughed which meant I had so much spare time to dedicate to my little space on the internet. I really am thankful to have had that time as I was able to perfect the aesthetic and tone of my account, getting it to a place I’m really proud of.

Do you aim to tie your interest in the creative industries into your beauty, fashion and lifestyle blog content, or do you see them as separate areas?

I don’t see why they can’t mix! When I first started my blog, I actually wrote quite a lot about my experience as a Theatre student and as mentioned above, have started the ‘Foot in the Door’ series. For me, creativity encompasses any form of expression, whether that be writing and performing a monologue or piecing an outfit together.

What pressures do you feel when documenting your personal life online and how do you combat the negative aspects of social media?

Whilst I have multiple accounts across social media, I keep my personal life relatively private. My personal profiles are all privatised and my blog account is limited to fashion and beauty trends I’ve been loving. It rarely gets beyond surface level, aesthetic-focused content. This is deliberate – I’m very cautious of how easy it is to overshare online and when I started my blog, it was something I made a conscious effort to avoid doing. I really do think this is the best way to combat most of the negative aspects of social media. Sharing personal information or too many details about your life can leave you feeling obliged to do so when you may not feel comfortable. At the end of the day, no one is entitled to know everything about you.

I have definitely felt the pressure to deliver a certain standard of content on both my personal and blog profiles and I think to some extent, that is a pretty inescapable feeling. The best tip I can give is to view the content that will fuel you positively. All I do on Instagram is scroll through fashion inspo, bathroom décor and sausage dog puppies so this is what spams my ‘explore’ page. Wild, I know. If you don’t want to see extremely posed, heavily edited photos of people on a beach in the Maldives, you don’t have to!

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