Hello! We are Callum (S6, Morgan Academy) and Eleanor (S5, Dundee High School) and we have been doing our Work Experience placement at the Rep since Tuesday of this week to gain an experience of all the roles involved in working in the theatre.
On Tuesday we were greeted by Heather Cassidy and taken on a whistle stop Tour of the building and departments. We spoke to some of the staff in these departments who we would be working with later in the week.
When we came back after lunch in the afternoon we met the Heads of Sound, Lighting and Stage management and were taken on a tour of the auditorium and some backstage areas. We then took part in a Technical Theatre workshop with visiting school Morgan Academy. The pupils were told a bit about what’s involved in tech theatre and the different roles. They then read through a script and were split into individual groups to visit the three areas – Sound, Lighting and Stage Management. In Stage Management we looked at props and parts of the set for And Then There Were None. In Lighting we got a lesson on different theatre lights and a tour of the desk and how everything works. In Sound we looked at the use of different sound effects in both film and theatre. We also looked at microphones and got to play with a reverb unit to change our voices to sound different with echo and delay, etc. The pupils then took turns at acting out a scene from And Then There Were None whilst others ran the sound, lighting and stage management aspects. This is a photo of all the skills as we put them to the test:
On Wednesday morning we were with Creative Learning who had their Inform theatre group in. Everyone we met was very welcoming and introduced themselves to us. They told us about what they had been doing in their classes. They had lots of fun playing drama games and worked alongside each other and supported each other. Improvisation games were then played which resulted in lots of laughter and they got quite tactical.
Later on that day we went up to the dance studio and watched the Scottish Dance Theatre dancers in rehearsal. The level of focus in the studio was amazing. We watched them from the side as they guided each other through the movements. We were amazed by their coordination and flexibility. They were working on elongating a dance piece that they are planning to go on tour with. After this we watched a very different type of rehearsal with the Ensemble. We went through to the Cars and Boys rehearsals and watched the actors as they read through a few scenes and then got up and blocked them following close direction from the Director, Philip Howard. It was interesting to see the actors give their own ideas about what their characters would do or say and how this was incorporated into the performance. The actors were all very friendly and chatted with us easily.
On Thursday we started at 10am with Heather’s 3-5 year olds Youth Theatre class where we met the children, helped to play games with them and we learned a bit more about what it is the younger youth theatre groups get to do. Afterwards we were in Wardrobe where we got to arrange and measure all the belts as the team are currently having a clear out of things that are no longer needed. We sorted the belts into sizes and put these in the appropriate boxes.
After lunch we were with Stage Management in the matinee of And Then There Were None. For the first half Callum was with an Assistant Stage Manager backstage, moving and resetting props, making fake champagne using burnt sugar and lemonade and also making coffee (which is used as brandy in the show). He also got to sit underneath a big part of the set while a crew member fake-stabbed one of the actors in the back with a magnetic knife as part of one of the murders. While Callum did this, Eleanor was up in the Technical Box watching Lesley (Deputy Stage Manager) cue the show. At the interval, we swapped over.
On Friday morning we were with Creative Learning again but this time it was with the Illuminate Ensemble (pictured above). This was a bigger group and some of the same people we had met on Wednesday were there. They were all very full of life and character and there were some rather interesting personalities. We began playing some introductory warm ups where we all said our names and this was because there were some new members. This helped them to feel at ease and they settled into the group very quickly. Everyone was very included and during a game of ‘’grandmothers footsteps’’ they worked really well as a team to try and win. They all seemed to have lots of fun and really enjoyed themselves. We then worked as a team to pass a ball round a circle and reached our target of getting it round in ten seconds. We then had a quick chat with Heather about our time here but not for long as sadly she had to dash to catch a train to go up to Aberdeen for some training.
After lunch we came to Press and Marketing and they told us all about the importance involved in the marketing department as it is how the plays get their audiences. They make sure that Dundee Rep has good press and good public relations, publicising what the Rep do in the Dundee community. They are vital in ticket sales – without them there would be no audiences. It was nice to hear about a part of the theatre that is maybe sometimes forgotten about.
Overall we had a fabulous time at the Rep on our placement. We got a very complete and full experience of what it is like to work in each area of a theatre and this will change our perspective on theatres and what they get up to. We met some great people and personalities here and we hope we will bump into them again.