> > > > Coaching: Jenny Sealey and Rachel Bagshaw in conversation

Jenny Sealey and Rachel Bagshaw

A conversation about Sync Coaching between Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company and Theatre Director Rachel Bagshaw (pictured here) formally Training Manager of Graeae Theatre Company from our Sync Thinking Event.

JENNY SEALEY: So why did I join Sync you ask? Well, in all honesty after 10 years of being at Graeae, I finally had my first appraisal from the board. That’s pretty appalling if you think about it. Sync came up, and as Sarah has just stressed, it’s all about giving yourself time to develop. I thought the time is now. I have got to do this, come hell or high water. So when I got a place it was like 'yes!'

And then the coaching started. I don't think I have ever been so terrified in my whole life. I can chat away until the cows come home about myself, but I am not good at talking about how I work and interact with other people: can I own that word leader? Can I own that word manager? What is the difference between leading and managing? It was about looking right down into the bowels of my belly, and finding those things that have never settled very well. And they have not settled very well, because they are not really meant to be there. It’s not actually been of any use for me whatsoever to hold onto some of the things I hold onto about what I can and cannot do. Slowly this came out so Sarah and I picked away at these things, discarding them. Graeae is not just me. It's about nine or ten people all who have a very valuable job. Half of my job is making sure that everyone feels like they can function in their job, making sure that they enjoy their job and when the going gets tough, they can come to me to make sure that I create the best possible basis for them to thrive.

an elephant itching its feet

Itchy Feet

JENNY SEALEY: So when the Sync coaching process came up again in the Sync Intensives programme, Rachel comes over, "Jen, shall I apply for this?" So Rachel, why did you join Sync?

RACHEL BAGSHAW: Because you told me too! {laughter} No, I think second round of Sync came at a time of great change for me as well. I had been working for Graeae for a number of years and I was getting itchy feet. I wanted to go out there and start making my own work, forging my own path a little bit. I had been incredibly well supported by Jenny and Graeae.

The second round of Sync came at the absolute perfect time for me, as I was going through the process of working out where I wanted to go next and what I needed to do and feel in order to make that transition. I'm now currently resident Assistant Director at the Young Vic, where I have been since September 2010.

My coaching journey through Sync saw me through a time of huge change, from working within a very small disabled-led organisation to working in a very large, mainstream organisation with a very different kind of support. I've had to find my own personal path through that.

Listening to Hilary (Carty) just now, talking about safe spaces, it really resonated with me. The importance of time to reflect with other disabled people through Sync has made quite a considerable difference to me. It has helped me find my way through and use that time for reflection to take action and find ways of practising what ever that action is.

2 women arm wrestling


JENNY SEALEY: Did you reflect on anything about me?

RACHEL BAGSHAW: How to manage my manager! {laughter}

JENNY SEALEY: You what...?

RACHEL BAGSHAW: How to manage my manager! Giving me that time, for both of us, to reflect on how we worked with each other. It was a really interesting process for us, both as artists, both as directors and two individuals working together and then not together. Our coaching journey overlapped and I think that must have been very interesting for Sarah.

JENNY SEALEY: Rachel got more bolshie. Oh God, but for very good reasons. The more bolshie she got, the more scared I got. Not scared of her, but scared that she was going to go soon: that the right opportunity would come and she would go. I went into complete denial, we couldn't even talk to each other for a couple of months really, there were tears and all the rest of it. Right Rachel?


a picture of a disabled person in a bubble

Bursting the bubble

JENNY SEALEY: But it really got us together to really talk about being deaf, being a wheelchair user, pain management, frustration, fatigue. We were able to put all of that into a bigger melting pot and talk about it a lot more honestly. I think I just realised sometimes how much I do live in my little Jennie bubble, it's very nice and very safe there. Sometimes I put my little bubble around me so that I do not have to interact with anybody, I play the whole deaf thing 'Sorry, I didn't hear that, what?' So I can come myself off. I think Rachel found out about that and I was hauled into court. She would constantly come and prick my Jennie bubble, which I'm eternally grateful for actually. It has meant that I have repositioned where I sit in the office and I do keep a much more interactive way of trying to communicate with everybody.

RACHEL BAGSHAW: Likewise for me. Very personally, there was a real value in me being able to share my own experience, the impact of my impairment on my working patterns and actually really using the time with Sarah to completely overhaul the way that I was managing my working life instead of just sort of endlessly trying to kind of cope and to sort of get through it all. Sarah gave me real space to reflect on that and actively make changes that have really, really helped me to make the transition into my new role.

a picture of a humming bird


JENNY SEALEY: I do sometimes have Sarah perched on my shoulder, you know. She sits there very quietly, sometimes she will be like a woodpecker, or sometimes a bit more like a cat with her claws in {laughter}, saying ‘yes you can do that’. I am eternally grateful to Sync, for me and for Rachel. She flew and she's still flying. What sort of bird are you Rachel?

RACHEL BAGSHAW: I think I'm probably a humming bird at the moment.

JENNY SEALEY: Humming bird. And I think on that note... {laughter} that’s all that we have to say.



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