A life in the theatre – Work Experience placement stories

RNC student Kelly Ann is sitting on the floor laughing as she has a hula hoop around her with her right leg sticking out and the bottom of her foot against the edge of the hula hoop. There is a girl next to her in a wheelchair, who also has a hula hoop around her and she has her right leg sticking out and the bottom of her foot is against the edge of the hula hoop. There are some other people in the background playing with different hula hoops.

In February every year, at RNC (Royal National College for the Blind) we host a work experience week where our students experience a week off timetable, where they are taken out of their comfort zone for a taste of what life may be like for them when they leave us.


This week we are looking at a variety of student placements in different industries; today we will be focussing on Performing Arts students Danielle, Kelly Ann and Molly where they had their work placement in the iconic Bristol Old Vic Theatre.


The three students were part of an inclusive youth workshop with a leading circus company called Extraordinary bodies. Their aim is to increase national awareness of the integration of disabled and non-disabled artists working equally together. RNC’s Performing Arts Teacher Cara Tivey explains “I know that working with a circus troupe is not what you think of as a typical work experience placement, but part of the experience is to show our students what possibilities there are for continuing with Performing Arts after they leave RNC.”


Some of the artists working with Extraordinary Bodies are disabled and tour the country performing for a living, this sends a really strong message to our students that visual impairment should not be a barrier to having a successful career in the arts. 20 year old Danielle Brewster, from Devon, loved her experience with Extraordinary Bodies and says “I’m going to uni in September and this is a great insight of what I might be doing every day as part of my Theatre Studies course. It’s given me so much confidence to be myself around people I don’t know and has challenged me to try new things. I never thought that I would be walking a tight rope this week, but I did it and it just goes to show what you can do if you put your mind to something.”


The theme of the workshop was ‘What am I worth?’ and was based around how people felt about their own worth and value in society. Our students were able to honestly discuss how they felt in a safe environment, as well as perform circus tricks with tight ropes and hula hoops, write and record music. Everyone was put into pairs with someone that they did not know and had to perform pieces to the rest of the group, Kelly Ann Steadman, 16 from Bristol, was involved in one of the stand out performances of the week where she had to perform a routine with a hula hoop in sync with a girl in a wheelchair. She said “I was so nervous about coming here but doing some of the ice breakers made me feel more comfortable. It was so much fun doing the circus routines, and working with someone in a wheelchair made me think more creatively about how I can adapt and improvise.”

View our Facebook gallery for more photos from Work Experience week


If you are aged 14+ with visual impairment and you are thinking about your future, come to the RNC Open Day on 23 March. If you have any questions about this, please call the student enquiries team on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk

If you are an employer and you are interested in offering a student work placement, speak to the RNC transitions team on 01432 376 621.

Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC


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