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Thursday, 14 July 2011

Taste of Theatre by Emily Philpott

Do you know you want to work in theatre but are unsure what part?
The RSC can provide the answer. They gear a brilliant work experience programme designed to give its entrants the chance to experience the broad range of theatre careers rather other than just the performance side. For every 1 actor the RSC puts onstage there are 7 other contributing backstage that makes this possible, from marketing and stage management to lighting and automation.
I recently completed the week and it was completely eye-opening! I knew I wanted to work in theatre but had absolutely no idea there were so many jobs I had never even heard of that contribute to the wonderful production that appears on stage.
The scheme aimed at year 10 and 11 students has been running for four years now and it has grown to include a vast array of the RSC’s departments who run hands on activities to give you an insight into what they do. On day one the group was taken to the Timothy Bridge Road workshop where all set and props required are drawn up, made or sourced. We were lucky to see the Matilda rework in progress for the transition to London this year. The workshop also holds floors of achieved props from seasons that go right back to the 1970’s, a huge highlight was to sit Cleopatra’s throne from Michael Boyd’s production of Anthony and Cleopatra.
During the week we also got to watch the lighting sound and set change in the theatres repertoire from Macbeth to The Merchant of Venice (or should that be Vegas?). We were shown by the automation team how the children are lowered in Macbeth; NB: standing on the grid 15m above the stage in the fly tower is not for the faint hearted! In the costume design session we got to see current and future costumes in the process of being made and what they use to make them look ‘worn in’. We had a full tour of the new theatre backstage and got to see the amazing wigs and make-up department.
The marketing department gave us the chance to make a poster advertising The Merchant of Venice. As well as being creative we also had to think about what audience we were trying to appeal to as well as a lot of other factors. The lighting department showed us the lighting desk and how to cue and run the show (fun was had with making the set pink). Although the aim of the week was to broaden students’ knowledge of jobs past the performance, the acting side was not forgotten; we had a voice workshop with Michael Corbit which taught us how: ‘words are merely words, without feeling they are nothing but just because it is Shakespeare doesn’t mean we should be scared of them’.
It was an amazing week to see and work with so many well known practioners that are top in their field. We all left the week with a broader knowledge of just how many other creative jobs theatre has to offer rather than just performance.
The week was truly inspiring and I completely recommend it to any student who wants to find out more about different jobs in theatre! If you would like to apply keep an eye on the RSC website their application process starts again later this year.
Emily Philpott