Work Experience is back!

Our work experience blog is back and this week we say hello to Sam who’s going to be giving you an insight in to what goes on behind the scenes at Harrogate Theatre…

Day 1 (Tuesday)

I started the day at the unearthly hour of 10 AM, which, for a holiday, is the middle of the night for me. However I made my way to the Theatre, and was soon being shown around by Hannah. The sheer complexity of the place amazes me; it is, quite literally, a Tardis I think. I have to say, the area above the stage, where all the ropes etc are, is amazing; what a view! I really had no idea that the stage would be so complicated…!

Having found our way back to the office, Hannah set me the task of researching the Blitz and the Great Fire of London for a school workshop she would be running later on. The work took a while, but it was interesting, and I learnt something new; heck it might even come in useful to my A levels!

One o’clock soon came, which meant lunch. One Tesco pasta and a bottle of Appletiser down, and I was back to work. The afternoon saw me working with Rob in marketing; first researching a play (Move over Moriaty) which would be coming to the theatre in the coming weeks, then writing an article on it for the website… an important task for my first day! I’m pretty sure it went well; so it’s all good.

I’m loving the experience of working here, everyone is really friendly, and you can see there’s a really strong family atmosphere going on off stage as well as on it. All in all, a good day.

Day 2 (Wednesday)

Another unearthly rise at 10AM, made all the harder by the somewhat foolish move of a late night… C’est la vie I guess. Anyway one cup of tea and a bit of brekkie, and I was raring to go.

The morning saw me working in marketing again, with Emma this time. I began doing a bit of research for suitable places to send posters, etc. that took most of the morning; it was long work, but I got A LOT done, so it was good. I then moved on to reading the local newspapers, searching for news of the theatre (as well as reading some local news!) the cuttings were then pasted onto dated word documents and filed. Emma took me down to show me the archive, it really was amazing. There was a book of minutes from the 1960’s, all leather bound. It’s great to remember how long the theatre’s been going, and all the work that’s been done below the surface.

A quick bite to eat later (can’t go wrong with a chilli steak lattice…) and I was back to work; this time in operations. Caroline asked me to usher the puppet show, ‘Arabian Nights’… I have to admit I was a tad nervous as people came up, despite it being a smaller audience (in the studio) but it was fine in the end. Everyone sat down; I took a seat at the back and enjoyed the show. I’ve never really seen a puppet show before, apart from a few minutes of some corny ‘Punch and Judy’ at a beach somewhere. This was totally different; done by one guy, he really did bring the stories to life; and although you could see he was operating each puppet, even the minute details like the way a leg bends when someone walks were covered. The stage was very colourful and intricate, and the music and burning incense really gave the stage a sense of authenticity. All in all, despite some reservations, I was impressed. After the show I had a bit of a talk with Caroline about the various duties of an usher; and having e-mailed her before the placement began, signed up to usher voluntarily after the work experience. I get to see the shows, so I’m looking forward to it! And it helps the theatre… So, to sum up, another good day.

Day 3 (Thursday)

Today saw me working with Hannah in education today… had a couple of million newsletters to stuff into envelopes for the HYT, senior and junior groups. It took me most of the morning, but I had a chat with people in the office, and the work went pretty quickly; although folding so many newsletters is a bit wearing on the fingers after a while. Still I had cups of tea, so I was well fuelled!

1 o’clock came; time for a spot of lunch… a nice chicken club sarnie; thank you Greggs, and a homemade sausage roll down, and it was back to work.

The afternoon meant one thing, PRODUCTION! Having seen the fly room on my first day, I was really looking forward to working in production, and seeing what goes on, and I wasn’t disappointed. Before long I was on stage, below stage, above stage, and well, everywhere to be honest. David showed me how to focus all the lights on stage, then how the fly’s worked. Maurice took me through how all the lighting and sound works. I’ve never seen so many wires! ¾ hour down, and my brain started turning to mush, so we stopped for some tea, and discussed amusing incidents the guys had encountered down the years. Back to work; and Maurice continued to explain lighting to me. David was moving lights on stage, on the rails above stage, which meant me and Maurice were moving him about on a sort of ladder on a frame… which to be honest was a bit scary. Never been great with heights, and I was worried David would fall out! He never did though, so it was fine. Long day over, time for home and TV. See you tomorrow!

Day 4 (Friday)

My last day today 😦 … and it saw me working all day with Maurice and David in production again; setting up for ‘Fascinating Aida’… the morning was a little slow to start… we helped someone deliver a piano, and had a chat about how companies organise putting on a show at the theatre. About 11:30 there was a meeting for everyone, which, funnily enough, meant LOTS of bacon sandwiches and coffee (which in my opinion is the only way to hold any meeting- can’t beat a bit of bacon in the morning!)

After that there was a bit of setting up to do, and then lunch. Still full from all the bacon, I just had a stroll around sunny (for once) Harrogate…

Back at 2 o’clock, and the crew for ‘Fascinating Aida’ arrived. From then on it was very busy; we started by unloading the truck, and moving about various pieces of equipment to where they were needed. Then came the setting up of various elements on the fly’s (I won’t tell you what- go see it!!) Lastly we focused all the lighting for the show. This job saw me working the machine that controls all the lights, whilst David, in the scarily tall and slightly unsafe looking ladder on wheels, moved all the lights; and focused them where they were needed. That was fantastic! It was great getting to grips with how all the lighting equipment works, and the various techniques used to focus the lights. I’m sure it’s going to be hugely helpful for my Drama A level, and it’s great to see how things on stage are set up, and all the work that’s done. This week has been really great; it’s opened my eyes to the sheer volume of effort that goes into every production, behind the scenes as well as on stage. It’s also showed me that there’s more to a drama company than actors, and that everyone is important. It’s very much a team effort to do anything here, and I think that sort of environment is what makes it possible to put on the great productions this theatre does. Well, that’s all from me, it’s been great!

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