Learning the Ropes with New Perspectives

This week, we have been joined by Lauren, who was with us for some work experience in the world of theatre. As this has been the week of the EP Company tour of This Place, she has done a spectacular job of helping out at each venue and during rehearsals, and learned a lot along the way! We asked her to write a blog about her experiences:

My name is Lauren, and this week I have been doing my work experience at New Perspectives. It has been an amazing week and I have learnt a lot about the theatre industry that will help me in the future.

Day One was spent at the office in Basford, where I was introduced to all the staff. I had the opportunity to watch the final technical rehearsal for this year’s Emerging Perspectives Company’s production of This Place. The show contained three original short plays, written and performed by emerging East Midlands talent. I found it really interesting to observe the rehearsal, and witness the technical aspect of putting together a production, and the decisions that have to be made.

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On Tuesday, I travelled with the company to the Bonington Theatre in Arnold. I helped to dress the set with Theresa, the Director, and was taught how to rig the stage lights by Alisia, one of the actors in This Place. It was fascinating to see the amount of work that went into setting up the stage and all of the equipment. As part of Emerging Perspectives, the actors were being taught about the technical side of theatre by Mandy, the Production Manager, so I learnt a lot about the whole process. I’ve always been interested in what happens backstage before the shows, and this gave me an insight into what working in theatre is really like.

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Wednesday took the company to The Old Library in Mansfield where, once again, I helped to set up the rails and props for the performance. Darrell, the Stage Manager, taught me a lot about the stage lights. I learnt about the three different types of lights (profile, Fresnel and par can) and how to focus them by altering the angle and direction, soft focus and hard focus, and then using the shutters (on a profile light) or by opening and closing the box (on a Fresnel light). However, on profile lights, you have to use the opposite shutter to whatever direction you want the lights adjusted. It was slightly tricky at first, mainly because I thought I was going to fall off the ladder, but once I knew what I was doing, I found it quite easy. In addition, I watched the full performance, which I thought was brilliant and thoroughly enjoyed! I liked how all the props were hanging from rails onstage, and I thought the use of space was really creative. The acting was also amazing. Seeing the entire process of arriving, setting up, technical checks and then the actual performance was a completely new experience for me, as normally when I go to the theatre, I never think about what has happened before the show starts.

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We went to St Peter’s Church in Thurgarton on Thursday, which provided the company with several challenges. The stage space inside the church was very small, so the set and lights had to be stripped back. The moving platform remained in the van, along with one of the rails and several stage lights. Theresa, Hope and the actors had to run through every scene change and make adjustments to the set and their entrances and exits, so that nobody clashed in the small stage area. I took part in the actor’s warm-up, which was very funny and bizarre, although nobody else batted an eyelid. Ryan’s warm-up was especially “interesting”. The church itself and surrounding landscape were beautiful, and provided a really nice atmosphere for the performance.

This was my favourite performance, as I have never witnessed a show in such a unique setting before. Watching the cast and crew adapt to such a space was also really interesting, and gave me an insight into the challenges involved with touring theatre. For instance, an unexpected performer made several surprise appearances in the form of the neighbour’s cat, who had managed to sneak into the building, and made several comical attempts to take centre stage. The actors continued despite the distraction, and showed no visible reaction to the incident, which I would have found very difficult.

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Overall, I have had a really fun, exciting experience. I’ve always been a huge fan of the theatre, and this experience has definitely made me want to pursue my passion in college and perhaps as a career. I have learnt so much and I feel like I’ve gained an understanding into a world I previously knew nothing about. All of the people I met were very lovely and welcoming, and I am very thankful to them for taking time out from their jobs to teach me about theatre. I’ve really enjoyed meeting everyone.

Thank you New Perspectives for the best work experience ever!

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Lauren Aitken, Year 10, Kirk Hallam Community Academy

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