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HYT visit York…

On Friday 23 April it was the launch of the National Association of Youth Theatre’s (NAYT) Regional Associate Venue for Yorkshire at York Theatre Royal. Hannah, our Education Workshop Leader, was invited to the launch along with Aimee, one of our freelance practitioners, and two members of HYT, Grace and Hugh.
NAYT’s mission is to make a positive difference to young people’s lives by supporting their participation in, and access to excellent youth theatre. The creation of Regional Associate Venues will mean that youth theatre members and workshop leaders will have greater access to training and performance opportunities.

Here’s Hugh and Grace’s report from the launch…

We arrived at York Theatre Royal (Hugh rather happy that he’d missed the last lesson at school) with no idea what we were doing there, sporting our new HYT hoodies. They looked pretty amazing and no one else had hoodies. Starting the afternoon with some classic youth theatre games, while attempting to learn other people’s names, we found that the afternoon was simply to find out what we wanted from a regional youth theatre festival. Everything from food to workshops was questioned as we were offered party rings and a selection of marshmallows at each themed tent. We had a charming guide called Reece – a York Youth Theatre member who showed us to each tent. We found that we had a lot to talk about at the performance tent, including reminiscing about past HYT shows (Moonfleece, Wind in the Willows and not forgetting East End Tales). The feedback from each area was then given and we found that a lot of other youth theatre members had the same ideas. We then waddled off to find some food before watching the evening performance of The Seagull. After watching the performance we had a nice chat about it in our free taxi home (thanks Hannah). We decided that The Seagull was very much like real life, but that real life does not necessarily make interesting theatre.

HYT rocks. Hannah rocks.

Grace and Hugh rock.


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!

Day 10 in the Big Harrogate Theatre

By Tim Stedman

The evolution of pantomimes not content with asking us to sing, dance, act in costumes designed to wow rather than wear also requires us to fight.  If it’s good versus evil settle it with swords.

We all sat quietly enjoying Tom (our baddie) and Lara (our goodie) learning the fight.  Except me.  I tried to behave.  To just watch and learn why one swing of the sword is better than another; why this stance is stronger than that.  But within five minutes I had knee and elbow pads on and a stunt jacket and was sat straddling my chair the wrong way round – “Make my day”.

Though I fidgeted from the testosterone and nervous energy, all my colleagues ignored the wacky racer auditioning on his chair.  I love stage combat.  After football, I “play” fought most of my childhood with my brother and sister.  I can do ‘slow mo’ fight, the down-and-dirty-using-household-items fight, and a death scene Oscar winners would give their careers for.

I had to leave the room till Katie (our DSM) called me: “You’re up.”  I strode into that rehearsal like John Wayne, like Batman…. Like Arnie.  Andy (our fight instructor) was weighing me up – “Yes the force is strong in this one.” He took two swords swirled them round his ears like interconnecting Catherine wheels.  “Now you,” he said.  I smiled I find things like this quite easy.

25 minutes later everybody had left.  My one moment and I can’t… just can’t get them to do that.  “It’s the swords… must be too heavy…” I joked.

“They’re plastic, Tim.”

Day 9 in the Big Harrogate Theatre House

By Tim Stedman

Dancing.  A word that strikes fear into the heart of every male middle aged actor I know.  It may sound sexist but in 10 years of panto at Harrogate the worst, two left-footed, never-danced-in-her-life actress is a positive Nureyev compared to the men.

Today proved no different.  The girls are dressed fashionably in clothing I have neither seen before or understand its function.  Toeless socks, ankle warmers, lycra, jumpers that can only stay on one shoulder.  Not to be outdone we boys went for themes such as “I’m here to pick fruit”, “That’s your car fixed love”, “These are somebody else’s clothes”, “These are my clothes but I last wore them when I was 14”.

The girls, feeling suitably intimidated, rushed to the front for a good view of our choreographers, Emma and Jimmy.  We males fight for the back row: a) not to be seen, b) this may mean I’m choreographed to dance here, c) not to be seen.

I am sorry to say I remember nothing of the day.  I know we laughed, sweated and waved limbs like a distressed shipwrecked cruiser.  But I don’t remember a single step.  Gordon (Widow Twankey) said you have to do a dance step 27 times before you know it.  I’ve calculated if we practice each routine once a day I’ll get it all right on the 15th December: the 3rd week of the run.

Halloween – The Performance!

It’s show timmeee!
Happy Halloween.
We went to the theatre for 3.30 and got all spooked up with white face paint and dark eyes and some bits of nasty fake blood (which was a bargin at 30p) then we did some warm ups before we went down to the Valley Gardens. I decided to go for the stripy tights in the end. We got a few double takes on the way down, it’s always amusing and we used lots of talcam powder to make our hair all grey and clothes shabby.
We had a bit of a run through/dress rehersal for the parents and everyone looked rather scary. Then we had a little ‘tea’ break at about 5 where me and Zoe went on an interesting adventure because the toilets had closed 😦 I’ll spare you the details.

The audience started to arrive in their costumes and getup from about 5.30 onwards. It all worked really well, so much easier with the audience to work with and respond too. I liked how they mostly all joined in and got into it all. Making the small children jump makes me laugh, we even managed to make a dog cry haha that’s a new one. It was really fun, I think everyone did a great job.  Lucy did a really good job of filling in on the George story at short notice. I think all the stories worked well. It was quite tiring though and that was only from 4 runs haha, was a busy day, worth it though 🙂 Ooh the chav who tried to steal the balloon – he was hard core, not, there’s always one haha. I think everyone enjoyed it, the audience, actors and volenteers AND it didn’t rain 🙂 always a good thing, it wasn’t as cold as I thought it was going to be either. There was definitely more people there than last year. I’m quite tired now though. Walked home and I’m planning on watching a scary film – see what’s on. Now onto another play. Yey for drama.

Last night was great 🙂 yayyyy! We started off at the theatre to do costume and makeup, and we all looked really scary 🙂 white base so we looked all pale and horrible, then pretty much dab on what you like. I only used black to make myself look gaunt and scary, but we had scars, drippping blood, green eyes going – it were all good. Costume was mostly what we brought ourselves, I got fake blood on my shirt. The only white shirt I have is Jack Wills so my parents weren’t pleased when I got back haha. We had witches, vampires, undertakers, Sir Eric and generally scary stuff of all sorts. We did our usual warmups. I like to eat apples and bananas, stack your vertibrae, punch the parrot etc. 🙂 Walked down to the Valley Gardens with everything we needed to put on a mock performance for any family of the cast that showed up. On the first walk every idea I had come up with previously just disappeared from my mind. Nerves kicked in, I think. We got to the story of George and I was very surprised when James appeared from the foliage on the floor – a very unexpected entrance. Oranges and Lemons was sung and George’s house fell down. We moved on, the guides spewing out any amusing or otherwise thoughts that came to mind, past where we did Wind In The Willows (aah, the memories) and found Matilda burning because she lied about a fire in the house. After shepherding the audience to Jim and his ghostly zookeeper (Jim gets eaten by a lion because he ran away from his nurse in a zoo) we wandered off and complained about how hungry we were etc.
We waited around a bit for everything to get set up and for Henshaws to sort out things, then each group went to their performance positions and the guides readied themselvses for the leading. I think it was Lizzy and Aidan who took the first group, then Amy and Dan, then me and Zoë, then Serena and Rosie. We watched the introduction for each pair of guides, who then moved off with their crowd, staying in character. Me and Zoë started off with a short opening, introducing the nights’ stories and getting the audience into the mood. There was a lot more people than I expected and we had a hard job shepherding them all to each story. Let alone racking our brains for things to say. I was pretty nervous and I knew my projection was suffering for it. I also got reminded to speak up once or twice later… Apart from an especially slow audience, there were no major mishaps, and I began to get into it by the end 🙂 Zoë was energetic and bouncy all the way through and if there were less people in between us I would’ve enjoyed watching 🙂 Second tour and I really got into it, belting out everything I said, bouncing off the audience, it was really fun 🙂 Me and Zoë didn’t see each other much because one was always at the front while the other was at the back, but everything was happy and fun. I might have scared a few little kids though… Third and final tour and our audiences had diminished to just eight people. When we got George’s group, there were some kids nearby playing with some fireworks. The ineptitude of their handling of the explosives made everyone a bit nervous. I thought it dangerous to stay so close, so I surruptitiously had a few words with the Henshaws’ representative, who went over with his big flashlight looking official. The troublesome teens made a speedy departure when a policewoman showed up. It felt like a victory 🙂
So, we finished our Halloween performance 🙂 It was all fun and games, with a fair amount of acting mixed in 🙂 What more do you want? Harrogate Youth Theatre is awesome 🙂 I love it 🙂 Here’s to the next HYT project! 🙂 yayy 🙂


Halloween Rehearsal 5

Okay, I forgot to do one last time so Lizzy double beats me at blogging. But I’m hoping she’ll forget this time because this was our half term rehearsal! (oooh, commitment) We were using this time to have a quick sneak peek of what is provided by the theatre for our costumes 🙂 I have a top hat to balance on my head and a jacket. Also, for makeup I’m going to be all gaunt and sinister undertaker man 🙂 Aidan has a massive cloak which is cool but I’m not sure if he’s wearing it…  After this we all went down to the Valley Gardens to have a look at where we would be performing and letting the guides fill in the gaps between scenes. Me and Zoe are just improvising it though, so it’s all cool 🙂 The different groups rehearsed their bits (George’s group didn’t show up though 😦 while the guides walked round making up scary things for little kids. We pretty much did this for the whole time we were there but it was pretty fun 🙂 Then we watched Matilda and Jim’s groups perform. They were good, but I didn’t expect the water pistols. Afterwards we had ice cream 🙂 It was nice 🙂



Oh Hugh how wrong you are .. this is The Lizzy you’re talking about, I don’t have alzheimers yet 🙂 a sneaky non timetabled unofficial rehersal isn’t going to catch me out 🙂
I’m glad you wrote one before me though I was hoping someone would otherwise I would look silly with 2 blogs in a row lol.
Anyway back to Halloween…the penultimate rehersal, we met at the theatre at 11.00am (I was very tired) and we went to costume to see which extra clothes we need. I am going to wear a black dress with a long black cardigan and black wellies and black netted gloves, I can’t decide weather to wear stripey tights or just plain leggings, don’t want to look too cliche lol. Haha me and Amy wandered down the costume corridor to reminisce and got scared by the HUGE Gruffalo poster in the last dressing room haha we laughed, and then we danced to Sclub 7 classic ‘don’t stop’. When we were all ready we mooched down to the Valley Gardens with the high viz jackets and crossing the roads with the green man 🙂 When we got there we had a little walk around of how the evening would plan out and then split in our groups to practice. But no-one from the George group were there 😮 and I didn’t have Dan but hopefully he’ll be able to fill in the gaps I have, which reminds me I need to write out which bits I’m saying when so it’s all in my head 🙂 The stories all look rather good, when we’re in costume and it’s dark-splendid! I’m glad it didn’t rain and hopefully, everything crossed the crazy wind and rainness will hold off until Sunday brrrr.  After rehersal we went to buy some apple flavour ice cream (it was interesting) and to see ‘Up’ but it was sold out 😦 who reads these blogs?? Come to the Valley Gardens and you can see the master piece.


Halloween Rehearsals 4

The last workshop time for rehearsal before the show oooh.. so we started off with a little bit of breathing excersizes to warm the vocals as you do. We sang songs about how much we love to eat apples and bannanas but then to balance out the diet had a nice chewy lump of toffee and then some top bananas..sounds to me like Hannah’s trying for a healthy eating campaign with subliminal messages lol or not. Anyhow then we split into our groupies again and worked on our master pieces. Dan wasn’t there so I had to use my own imagination, I’m not the scariest of people but I tried to think of a couple of things, we’re thinking probably mostly improvise on the night though depending on how the audiences react and such. And some of the time will be filling with our beautiful singing with our renditions of ‘when the saints go marching in,’ ‘oranges and lemons,’ and ‘London bridge is falling down.’ Rather a good idea if I do say so myself as a usage of noise without speakers to creep the audience. And if they can’t sing in tune..even better haha 🙂 We had a few bits of props and costume today to work with too which meant alot of balloons being popped (ouch my ears)
I’m planning on looking slightly witchy and used the event to get a new dress out of my mum haha 🙂 I wanted it anyway but she wouldn’t buy me it otherwise. Yeah so I think it’s going to be really good, I say that every week but I think it shall 🙂 I don’t want to make anyone cry too much haha but you can guarantee there’ll be a teenybopper trying to be all brave haha 🙂 We’ll have to wrap up fairly warm it will probs be a chilly chilly night. Before I leave .. Hugh my blog is longer than yours AND I beat you haha and this was a fairly late entry for me haha.
L-Bizzle reporting for the H-Wizzle (aka lizzy-halloween)