I want to make it clear that this is in no way a post about how to fill in application forms, it may read like that at times and for that, I apologise but I am really no expert. As a freelance practitioner it’s difficult enough trying to timetable the pies your creative fingers are stuck in around a working week which, we all know, resembles nothing like a normal 9 to 5. Finding time to prep a workshop, research another twenty minutes of a performance, re jig the CV to fit the different applications, print off and be off the page for a play reading can all be put on hold when an application deadline looms. My run up to Christmas though was somewhat frantic because of five application deadlines. Alright, to be honest the deadlines were not all pre 25th December, in fact only one was prior to festivities, three were for January and one (a big one) for February. But, I knew that if I didn’t make a start on them it would be difficult to pick them up after the break and re focus. I also knew that I needed a worked up proposal ready beforehand, a master text that I could cut and paste from, otherwise time gets wasted. So, as I said, this is not a handy set of tips and certainly one size does not fit all but if I’m prepped it’s so much easier… for me.
Having said that, online forms are a law unto themselves and I had to start by trying to work out what part of my proposal I could use for the box that said ‘explain your performance in 120 words’ – I seemed to have a lot more than that on the master pages. Once I’d decided on my cut down version and written it up in the box on page two of the form I clicked the ‘save’ button so I could come back to it at a later point. And yes you got it, I returned to the form to find it had only saved page one, the page about myself, the stuff I know by heart, that I can recount in my sleep, not the page with the box I had rejigged to fit the word count. On top of that I hadn’t saved a record of what I’d picked out of my ‘master text’ no back up, so there I was back to square one, starting all over again in the time when I should be doing one of my other jobs.
It seems no form is the same either, each having quirks of its own. If I was doing an all female version of Vaclav Havel’s The Memorandum, (my own all girl school actually put this on when I was in sixth form) I would be able to sum it up in one sentence because, it is a published play, a recognisable playwright and a straightforward concept. But if you are trying out new ideas, playing with form or, with the relationship between yourself and the audience, then it can be something that’s difficult to pitch precisely, and that can also prove hard for the online form. Also, creating a sentence that sums the piece up for marketing purposes can be bloody hard when you’re not in marketing, I wouldn’t be surprised if before long we have to create a tweet for our tag lines. Actually mine ended up being shorter than 140 characters so I reckon a tweet would be a breeze!!!
We know we only have one shot at this, once you’ve clicked ‘send’ you start to mildly panic and your self confidence slides to zero as you start to think about what you’ve sent and whether it sounds alright. You doubt your ability to talk about your own work, you picture someone reading your pitch stifling a laugh…..but then…… you get the email saying you’ve been shortlisted and your confidence rises it all seems worthwhile, until that is you have to do it all over again. The other application form is the one where you just fill in the basic information and then it’s a lottery whether you get picked out, or not. I have differing opinions about this process in its outcome but, it makes the process a lot easier. Now I’ve found the application where you press ‘click to apply’ and an empty email appears. Now that’s what I call a perfect application form!