"A Taste of the Industry": Freelancing as a Production Arts Student

Whilst studying at Mountview, some of our Production Arts students choose to undertake freelancing work in the industry. In addition to the work-based learning placements done as part of their course, opportunities such as these enable them to apply their knowledge and skills within the context of professional theatres, all with the support and guidance of their tutors behind them.

During her time freelancing at the Harold Pinter Theatre – first on Good and then on Lemons – Stage Management student Louisa Glading found herself crossing paths with Mountview Theatre Production Arts alum, and now Harold Pinter Deputy Head of Electrics, Ryan Eales. As the Lemons run drew to a close, we caught up with the two of them to discuss the practicalities of freelancing, working together on the West End, and the rewards of a career in theatre production.

In what ways do work-based learning placements and freelancing prepare you for life in the industry?

Louisa Glading


“I like to think of it as a supportive way to get a taste of the industry, but with the knowledge that there is a full support system behind you in the form of the Mountview tutors. I also think it can help you make the contacts that are so important once you are full-time in the industry. Networking means everything in this industry, and the sooner you can start, the better.”

“Networking means everything in this industry, and the sooner you can start, the better.”


“The vocational training that Mountview provides… is beyond helpful in preparing one for the industry. Getting hands-on experience to make your own mistakes, in a safe educational environment, is one of the best ways to prepare students for life in the theatre industry. This is only bolstered by the ability to have work placements in professioal settings, such as the West End. I myself had a work placement at the Harold Pinter for its showing of Betrayal, and only three years later, I found myself back here, full-time!”

What kinds of support does Mountview provide around freelancing opportunities?


“From reading over CVs to guidance on interview prep and even assistance in finding opportunities, the tutors are always willing to provide support to help us get the most out of any experience. Another thing I’ve found particularly brilliant is the wealth of advice, resources and stories the tutors share with us. It helps us understand the industry on a more personal level and as something that is truly reachable.”

Ryan Eales


“Mountview is constantly receiving opportunities via alumni and other organisations, looking for students who will benefit from doing work outside of their studies. Of course, the education that Mountview provides should take precedence, and if both can be balanced equally, it is truly worthwhile. Every opportunity to perform freelancing duties outside of Mountview studies has to be taken on a case-by-case basis. But, if you don’t ask, you don’t get and it is a credit to the students who attend Mountview that they are consistently asked by others in the industry to work outside of studies!”

Louisa – how have you found the experience of balancing freelance work and your studies at Mountview?

“I’ve found it very rewarding. For me, it’s been a way of putting skills learnt in class sessions immediately into practice in a professional environment. I’ve been fortunate that the freelance roles I’ve worked on have taken into account my position at Mountview, meaning I am still able to give 100% to both studies and freelance work. I also feel privileged to have had the support of the tutors to expand my interests in the industry and explore other departments and specialities outside of stage management. Once again, I have also found it so helpful to know that I have a team of tutors behind me at Mountview to talk to or to ask for advice from.”

How have you found working on Lemons and Good together at the Harold Pinter Theatre?

Louisa and Ryan on the stage of the Harold Pinter Theatre


“For me, I always find it a little bit of a happy surprise when I find Mountview alumni when out in the industry. Working with Ryan has been a joy, despite our paths only crossing minimally on an average working day. Seeing Ryan having reached such a rewarding role really inspires me personally. Both shows were a fantastic experience, both in their opposing nature and in the roles I was able to take on. It also reinforced to me the idea of how small the industry really is, and how supportive it is.”


“It has been as normal as it would have been if we were both industry professionals. Louisa had the opportunity to join the Stage Management team on Good, and it was as if she had been there since the beginning. As with all pieces of theatre work, it is an extremely collaborative venture. Teamwork is one of the most fundamental skills to have. With my role being more building-centric, employed by the theatre itself and not the shows that come through the doors, our workflows only really connected during show call times. Throughout both shows, however, Louisa has come in once the show has already settled and has applied herself with enthusiasm and professionalism. This made the working relationship easier and in those moments where our pre-show rig checks crossed, or show cues overlapped, it was an honour to have two Mountview people involved in creating another magical experience for the incoming audience.”

What would you say to people considering a career in theatre production arts?


“One sentiment I heard recently that really stuck with me, actually from the Principal Sally-Ann [Gritton], was that ‘we are not joining an industry, we are the industry’. I think that goes for all aspects of theatre, in the sense that every cog within a show makes it work, and it’s we who are doing it and we as new people learning who will become the forefront of the industry. For me, production arts is so incredibly rewarding, every time I stand in the wings or in the control box, looking at a show I’ve contributed to is the best feeling. You know deep down that the show would not be possible without you and the whole backstage team. That, for me, is why production arts is so rewarding. It’s the communities of people who come together sharing a passion for their work that makes it so special. I think the best advice I could give is to never feel you are fixed in one speciality within production arts. Being curious and showing a will to learn is the best position to put yourself in. Reach out to people, ask about shadowing, ask questions and show passion. It will be rewarded.”

“Being able to be a part of behind-the-scenes, the bits that not everyone gets to see, it is a thrilling place to be… The wonderful experiences that follow cannot be retold, only lived.”


“That it is one of the most hard-working and rewarding industries to be a part of. As an individual who has loved the theatre since a young age, from performances in nursery onwards, being able to be a part of behind-the-scenes, the bits that not everyone gets to see, it is a thrilling place to be. Theatre is ever-changing, each show is its own rewarding piece of art, whether it is new writing, a classic revival, a big West End juggernaut, or a fringe masterpiece. Get some experience at local venues, get a feel for the backstage world, and then on to formal training. The wonderful experiences that follow cannot be retold, only lived, and this industry is changing, hopefully for the better. So be a part of this new chapter in British theatre.”

It was a pleasure to catch up with Louisa and Ryan and we wish them all the best for the future.

Learn more about our Production Arts courses here.