It’s the weekend, party time for lots of people – adults and children alike. Today I am excited to introduce you to Joanne McGowan of Act One Parties, www.actoneparties.co.uk
I was introduced to Joanne via a mutual twitter friend who suggested that I might be able to share some advice on travelling to Croatia – I am always happy to do this! I hope you will enjoy this guest post and maybe consider calling on Joanne and her team when you are planning to organise a children’s party.
It’s a question I’m often asked and when I am standing at a children’s birthday party, in a roomful of 30 children, dressed in a pink fairy outfit, it’s a question I quite often ask myself! It is funny how life turns out, although when I tweeted the other day that I had stumbled into almost all my career choices a good twitter friend of mine replied “experience tells me true stumbling is rarely the case!” So how did I become a childrens party entertainer? As a child I had a love of everything to do with performance. I did dance lessons from age 7, was in every school play and choir going, formed a band with classmates aged 9 and endlessly entertained relatives and whoever would watch me with shows I had made up. My parents had both worked for the BBC and I remember vividly being taken into work with my Dad for the odd day where I would sit in the costume department or in the studio watching rehearsals and recordings of several programmes. I was surrounded by performance.
As I reached my teens I became increasingly more interested in what happened behind the scenes. I started helping with the baby classes at my local dance school and stage managed school productions rather than be in them. I also wrote off to many organisations to do work experience and was lucky enough to spend time at the BBC, Richmond Theatre and Fairfield Halls Croydon to name a few. As I went to university to study Drama, I was all set to go into a career of stage management or TV Production when suddenly I got the opportunity to buy a dance school. Whilst at uni I had kept my dance training up and taken teaching exams and had covered classes for this local school, so I borrowed money from my Grandfather and the bank and ran the school successfully for 9 years until I had my son.
I soon went back to teaching on a freelance basis when late in 2008 I noticed lots of people with my background starting to offer children’s parties so I thought I’d give it a go. I wish I could say I had some grand business plan and had all my parties planned in advance but in reality I felt my way through, reacting to what customers requested. I suppose my experience with children helped me know what would work but I did seem to hit upon something that people wanted.
I suppose in a way it is not surprising what I have ended up doing. Most of my parties rely heavily on drama and storytelling and I have always loved working with children since I started helping out at the local dance classes in my teens. The training in stage management has also been invaluable. I need to be very organised and plan for every eventuality at a children’s party and a stage manager certainly has to keep their eye on the ball in the same way.
In some ways I have gone full circle. Being a children’s entertainer is definitely akin to being a performer, something my 7 year old self would be very happy with.
Joanne McGowan – www.actoneparties.co.uk
Twitter – @actoneparties
Joanne McGowan is a party entertainer based in Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire. She is also a dance and drama teacher with a 5 year old son of her own.