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Podgorica, Montenegro. Image: Chris Lloyd

Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries participant Chris Lloyd reflects on his International Placement in Montenegro

31 October 2018

Chris Lloyd is currently working at Sherman Theatre in Cardiff as a Social Media Assistant, and is a participant on the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme. In August, Chris attended a four-week working residency supported by the British Council. Chris has written a short blog about his experience.

I was delighted to be chosen for one of the international placements as part of my year long placement at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff courtesy of Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries. My destination was Montenegro where I would be creating film and digital content for a production at Zetski Dom Theatre.

The world of theatre was an alien concept to me before I started working at Sherman Theatre as Social Media Assistant. My background is in film, and I knew nothing about the logistics of theatre. During my time at Sherman, I have learned a massive amount about how theatre works and what it takes to produce and deliver fantastic productions to audiences. A year ago, I don’t think I would have felt as ready and confident as I did to work in a theatre halfway across the world.

When I arrived, British Council took me under their wing and I felt very looked after and it was comforting to know that I had someone to raise queries to during my time there. My apartment was in the capital city of Podgorica, a place which was quite alien to me. The people of Montenegro have such a different approach to life and everyday tasks. It surprised me how little it cost to eat at great restaurants and to buy things at supermarkets. I had a couple of days to settle in before I started work at Zetski Dom Theatre, which was located 25 miles away in the old royal capital of Cetinje.

I was immediately welcomed onto the team there and it didn’t take me long to settle in and feel part of the theatre. My main role was to create content around a play called Sailor’s Rebellion (Pobuna Mornara) which was based on a true story of troops protesting against awful conditions in Montenegro during WW1. My role was to work closely with the director (Diego de Brea) creating content to be used as part of the production as well marketing content including promo videos, production images, cast and crew interviews, etc.

For the first few days I was lucky enough to work with an Italian filmmaker, provided to Zetski Dom as a part of the funding body of the performance. I was often in meetings, having conversations where several languages were spoken and being translated for my by various individuals.

During the first week of my stay there, my line manager from Sherman Theatre, Ed, came to visit where British Council put together a schedule of meetings with many key individuals from Arts organisations across the whole of Montenegro. We both felt like we got a lot from this. There were some really great conversations where organisations exchanged ideas and perspectives.

I really enjoyed working with the cast, and team, creating content for the show. It was quite a gruelling schedule but I really got a lot from it. In the last week, I moved to the coastal town of Tivat where the play was being performed in front of the ship, Jadran. It was very satisfying to see the play being performed in completion, using the elements in which I had created.

I really got a lot from the placement. Enrichment came from the work experience I was getting, things that will not only look great on a CV but work that has significantly developed my skillset. My soft-skills have also massively benefited from the placement where I had to communicate in different ways and adapting myself to a different culture and processes. This new vantage point allowed me to identify similarities and differences of working within different arts organisations, allowing me to provide and receive new ideas and approaches.

I learned how to work in an international setting, being culturally aware of differences and how to communicate where English wasn’t the first language. I was quite homesick at the beginning, it was a fairly unfamiliar setting and I constantly had to go outside of my comfort zone in many ways to achieve what I needed. I have got some real value from this as I am applying it to my life since being back home. The international placement was one of the most enriching things I have ever done.