Katie Southwell

Arts student

Katie, Arts student
Katie, Arts student

Theatre & Drama and Web Communications.

Red Balloons and Black Swans.

Katie Southwell really, really wants to be an arts festival production manager. She knows this career will take her anywhere around the globe – From the Perth International Arts Festival to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

However, she also knows that creative spark alone isn’t enough to get your work in the spotlight; You need to understand the business side of things to be a success. “It is intentional that I am majoring in both Theatre & Drama and Web Communications, with a minor in Public Relations,” Katie explains. “I want to be a production manager; and I need them all to get to my end goal.”

Katie is ambitious. But she also likes to get hands-on. With this keen attitude she was selected for a theatre production traineeship program at Nexus Theatre — Murdoch’s major teaching and performing venue. “Tim Brain runs the theatre and John King is the head technician. They’re really patient with all the students they take on.” Following this internship Katie was invited to become a paid member of the Nexus Theatre Staff. “I guess I was really enthusiastic!” Katie says of making the cut.

I got the opportunity to do the Murdoch Arts internship at Black Swan State Theatre Company this year. I was paired with great mentors, and worked in production and PR.

Katie's skills have enabled her to pursue other internships through Murdoch University's professional partnerships. This year saw her become the first candidate selected for a theatre production traineeship with Black Swan State Theatre Company. Here, she has been able to flesh out both sides of her degree – working on productions like Extinction and The Red Balloon. She’s been getting hands-on practical experience with the productions, as well as working on PR and communications.

“I went in thinking my time at Black Swan State Theatre Company was going to be purely observational. But I got paired with great mentors, and they told me to go for it! I got to physically build professional-scale stage sets and help out the whole crew. With the PR side, I got to develop media kits. It was pretty cool to have one of my articles published in the program for the Next To Normal production.”

Katie is heading into her final year of studies, and she already knows the contacts she’s made through Murdoch will help lead to future employment. “Volunteer as much as possible, particularly outside of university,” she says. “Then start networking with people. Networking is such a massive tool in the arts industry. Networking, and proving you’re enthusiastic and can do the job, will get you future employment."