My name is Susan Myles, I am in 5th year at Brechin High School and I have been lucky enough to join Dundee Rep for four days of Work Experience.
It all began with a Tour of the building through all the different departments. Even after being here for four days I still don’t know my way around this maze. At the start I didn’t even know that the theatre actually spreads across five floors! It was great meeting everyone and you were always greeted with a smile.
After the tour I got to go to Stage Management, which at first wasn’t very hands on as we had to sit in on a meeting about the future production of Woman in Mind. However, this was actually quite interesting, especially because I was getting to see such an early stage of production. It was insightful to see everyone work through problems to find solutions and showed me how important it was to think practically as well as creatively at this early stage. One of the Assistant Stage Managers, Owen, then took us to the stage to take visual records of all the props that were needed in the current production of And Then There Were None. This was better because I was able to walk around the beautiful set, all in shades of grey and stylish 1930’s furniture. Owen then showed us all the little holes and hatches hidden in the stage that allowed for props to appear in the performance without the audience noticing.
In the afternoon I got the chance to sit in on Rehearsals for the upcoming production of Cars and Boys. I was quite interested to see how the actors developed their characters and how the Director’s input was recognised. It also left me wanting to go see the play when it opens just to see if they changed anything for the official performance. After that we joined Amanda, Lisa and the Community Youth Theatre at the Bonar Hall for the rehearsals and final performance of Ernie’s Incredible Illucinations. It was good seeing them rehearse and prepare for when their audience and family members came to see them perform. Just watching the rehearsals, you knew you were in for a treat watching the final performance.
On the Wednesday we joined Amanda again for Inform Theatre, which I was unsure about at first as I did not have any experience working with this kind of group before (adults with a range of different learning support needs). However, I soon changed my mind as I was given such a warm and friendly welcome. It was great fun as we got to play lots of games and drama exercises and I laughed a lot.
After lunch I was getting to go to Scenic Design, the department that I had excitedly anticipated because it is the main area I am interested in. We met Leila, who took us round the set of And Then There Were None again but with the scale model as well. I loved comparing the final set to the small model in the box. She also talked about where she sourced some of the materials and how she needed to make sure the decking was waterproofed as it rains during the show. We then got to go to the Paintshop, referred to as the messiest room in the whole building by Leila. It is also full of weird and wonderful props and bits of sets that have been collected over the years. Here we got to make fake blood for fake limbs, which was great as I could get stuck in and mix all sorts of ingredients to make a terrifying mixture of fake blood which was mainly made out of soy sauce, shower gel and food colouring! I could also paint the limbs to look zombie-like and septic. I really enjoyed getting messy and being more hands on.
On Thursday I got the chance to join Heather and the 3-5’s Youth Theatre group, which was great fun as I got to play lots of games I hadn’t played in years. I mean, I certainly didn’t think I was going to get to play ‘duck duck goose!’ anytime soon. After that I got to go to Wardrobe, where at first I was ironing the cast’s shirts for the And Then There Were None matinee, which I wouldn’t have said was too fun, but it was actually quite rewarding later watching the matinee knowing that I had ironed the costumes the actors were wearing. It made me feel part of the production almost. I was then taken to the store to sort through some odd animal costumes. It was amazing being surrounded by so many different types of clothes and costumes. Some of the animal costumes were very strange including a gorilla outfit with silver 70’s platform soul boots sewed onto the feet! I got to look through all the different dresses from different eras, including some very peculiar frocks from the 1980’s.
This busy day concluded with spending time with Sound and Lighting. I found this better than I expected as I wasn’t initially too interested in this area of production. However, I was taken around the back of the stage to look at all the different types of lights, the different gels you could put on the lenses to change the colour, and the different stencils used to create shapes in the light. I was then taken up to the Sound and Lighting desks where I was shown how all the controls worked. It looked quite complicated but I was soon assured that it was relatively easy once you knew what you were doing. I was then allowed in to the auditorium to watch the matinee of And Then There Were None. I was so pleased to finally watch the show I had been told about and had walked all over the set and backstage for. When the first half ended I was left guessing ‘who dunnit’ – I now know but I won’t spoil it. I was then taken backstage again during the interval where I got to watch the team in the workshop experiment with some of the set for a future production and I got to see all the cast passing through the corridors between acts. I spent the second half in the Sound and Lighting booth which was amazing getting to see the show from this point of view, seeing all the lighting and sound cues take place in the performance. It was also interesting seeing Lesley, the Deputy Stage Manager, doing all the calls for the audience and the actors.
My last day began with the Illuminate Ensemble, which had some members from the Inform theatre group which I was reminded of as they all started to recognise me. Similar to Wednesday, we played games and did a drama task where we were put in to pairs and one of us had be a chat show host and the other had to be a celebrity which was great fun and a good laugh. In the afternoon I spent some time with Heather to discuss my week and then I went to Press and Marketing to write this blog. I was told exactly what Press and Marketing entailed which I kind of already knew but definitely not in so much detail.
So that’s my week in a rather big nutshell. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone interested in theatre or even event organising, television and film. This week covered so many different aspects of theatre production and the Rep’s involvement in the community. It was a great use of my week and I should thank the Rep for having me!