TALENT FACTORY

THE SCIENCE SHOWOFF TALENT FACTORY

Would you like to develop your science performance skills?

Over the next year, would you like to meet and work with key contacts across the industry, and have access to new opportunities to perform? All with the help of the creator of Bright Club and Science Showoff, and one of the UK’s most popular geek comedians?

Each year Steve Cross works closely with 10-14 science communicators to help them become a mutually-supportive group of elite science performers. You can see the first cohort (who started in Sept 2016) on the Talent Factory website. We’re about to recruit a second cohort.

Steve Cross, Aimee Eckert, Alex Lathbridge

Steve Cross, Aimee Eckert, Alex Lathbridge

The first year’s cohort have set up a strong mutual support network, gigged across the UK including at festivals, entered competitions, won competitions, had training from some amazing names including Fiona Laird, Simon Watt and Sarah Bennetto and developed lots of new podcast, video and live products. They’ve experimented with new styles of performance (I’m pretty sure that the only regular science drag acts in the UK are growing out of this group) and pushed the edges of what science is supposed to be in a live environment. They’ve been screen-tested by TV companies and performed for corporate, museum, school and family audiences, as well as drunk geeks in pubs. They have had many silly photos taken.

A silly photo

WHAT YOU GET

  • To perform at lots of Science Showoff gigs and other fun things Steve organises or takes part in
  • Access to opportunities and development no-one else can get
  • Masterclasses from some amazing performers and trainers
  • To appear on new podcasts and videos
  • Promotion via the Science Showoff website, YouTube channel and social media feeds
  • Lots of photos, video and audio to share with potential bookers
  • Help writing and improving science shows and comedy from Steve and all sorts of other fun people
  • Recommendations to science organisations as a performer
  • Introductions to Steve’s contacts
  • A community of like-minded people to support them and work with them
  • No reasonable favour will be refused

WHAT’S EXPECTED FROM YOU

  • To help the rest of the group and offer them opportunities you come across
  • To take part in more than 10 activities during the year
  • To give the group as much help as they receive themselves
  • To stay involved for the whole year

DO YOU HAVE TO BE A SCIENTIST?

No. We like people who are interested in science performance in any way. The first cohort included a dancer, a historian, a videographer, a comedian, a producer and lots, lots more. There will be researchers in the Talent Factory, but the Talent Factory isn’t about researchers.

Learning to make films with Florence Schechter

Learning to make films with Florence Schechter

HOW TO APPLY

We hid this bit in the middle so you have to read the rest of the text. Applications for the second cohort of Talent Factory will open on May 12th 2017 and close on June 30th 2017. To apply just send an email to showofffactory@gmail.com with a CV (two pages maximum) and a letter (two pages maximum) that tells us:

About your experience performing, presenting, running events, creating media and so on.

What you hope to get out of being in the Talent Factory, including the areas where you know you need development help.

What you bring to the Talent Factory that you can share with others, including any channels or opportunities you’re involved with, or skills you can help others develop (this is crucial – the Talent Factory is a mutually-supportive network).

A panel made up of Steve, science communication experts and Talent Factory Year 1 people will decide on the Year 2 membership based on this paperwork and other things we know about you. This means that it’s easier to get into the scheme if you’ve gigged with some of us, or at least had a chat in person. There’s a gig on June 7th for people who’ve not done Science Showoff so that you can do this.

Email factory@scienceshowoff.org if you have any questions or would like to know more before applying.

If you applied in year 1 and weren’t selected PLEASE DO TRY AGAIN. Especially if you can show us how you’ve developed in the intervening year.

Do you love making creative science product as much as Aimee loves whatever she is looking at?

WHY IS STEVE DOING THIS?

“When I used to work for a university one of the most satisfying parts of the job was helping scientists and communicators develop over time, and I spent seven years working with people who went on to become some of the UK’s most interesting science communicators. As a freelance comedian and producer I miss this, so I thought I’d create a different way to help people in a more intensive way. Plus I’m a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow and thought it would be really fun to share the benefits of that with a wider group of people.”

Steve’s time on the Talent Factory this year is financially supported by the Wellcome Trust.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT?

Cerys Bradley and Florence Schechter

Cerys Bradley and Florence Schechter

“Being in the Talent Factory has given me a year of constant practice and experimentation. I have been given so many more opportunities and been encouraged to push myself to try out new techniques and mediums (with all the training and advice required to do so without making a complete arse of myself). The experience has not only strengthened the skills I went into the programme with, but also helped me develop a whole bunch of new ones and given me the confidence to actually use them. It is because of the Talent Factory that I am performing a full solo show at a festival, have performed live poetry, and am going to the Edinburgh Fringe, all things that I had only previously dreamed of doing. The Talent Factory has 100% turned me into someone who goes out and does things, instead of just writing my ideas down.” – Cerys Bradley, Computer Security PhD student, Talent Factory Year 1

Anna Ploszajski and Alex Lathbridge

“The peer support in the Talent Factory has been invaluable. We offer notes on each other’s scripts, post-performance analysis and provide wider pastoral support on surviving in the world of sci comm. I’ve learnt about other facets of sci comm like personal branding and event management which wouldn’t otherwise have been on my radar. The diversity of performers and performance styles has been a real inspiration and has encouraged me to be more creative with my own work. My confidence has grown hugely as part of the TF. It’s given me the opportunity to network and develop training for fresh talent, as well as the chance to perform at next-level at places like Cheltenham Science Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe.” – Anna Ploszajski, Materials Engineer, Talent Factory Year 1

Michael Conterio, Anna Ploszajski and Jamie Upton

“One of the great things I’ve found about being in the Talent Factory is the support you get from the rest of the participants. And I don’t mean that in the bland sense of them cheering you on no matter what, although there’s certainly a rock solid base of support. I mean that they’ll push you into performing in ways that you’ve never tried before because they’ll suggest it and hook you into it – for example I didn’t expect to end up on stage imitating a 19th century scientist defending a theory that seemed sound at the time. They’ll pick up on those things that you do on stage that are preventing your work from being the best it can be, and give you ways of improving it. And they’ll do all this while being generally awesome and fun people to work and socialise with too.” – Michael Conterio, Physicist, Talent Factory Year 1

Alex Lathbridge

Alex Lathbridge

“The Talent Factory has been absolutely incredible for me.” – Alex Lathbridge, Biologist, Rapper, Famelab Winner 2017, Talent Factory Year 1
Aimee Eckert aka Doctor Joggs Bowson

Aimee Eckert aka Doctor Joggs Bowson

“There are so many awesome things about the Talent Factory, where do I start?! You get to hang out with and make friends with some seriously amazing people. The sort of people who are outrageously brilliant in many ways but are far too modest to say so, and are also exceptional at helping you realise what you are great at. The constructive feedback (and emotional support!) I’ve received this year has been game-changing for me. This is no overstatement. If it weren’t for the Talent Factory then I wouldn’t have had so many opportunities to practice different formats of science communication and learn from experts in this field. Also, I wouldn’t have been able to setup the UK’s sparkliest, nerdiest cabaret night, Dr. Jiggs Bowson’s Charming Science Friends, which debuted in Brighton and is booked to appear at the Cheltenham Science and Green Man Festivals this year. These experiences have been enormous fun and have certainly influenced what I want to do in my future career.” – Aimee Eckert, Biologist, Charmer, PhD student at the University of Sussex, Talent Factory Year 1