“Making Theatre Gaining Skills was in Worthing, West Sussex.
We ran a great three-week project with jobseekers from Worthing. The group consisted mainly of younger adults, with two or three more mature members.
In week one the group helped to devise and design a short play for primary- age children. The finished play was called “Let’s Go Exploring!” Professional designer Chris de Wilde helped the group to focus their visual ideas and then produced finished artwork for backcloths, scenic items and animal puppets. Towards the end of the week we started priming the backcloths.
Week two was pretty full-on. Painting continued at a great pace, carpentry tasks were undertaken and some members were coached in the use of the electric jigsaw. Sound effects were both downloaded and created from scratch, edited, and loaded into our playback software ready for performance.
In week three we did a technical rehearsal followed by three dress rehearsals. The portable theatre was dismantled and loaded into a hired van, along with all the props, scenery and costumes for the show. We opened at Worthing Lido where we did two performances, followed by a show at Worthing College and one at a local primary school.
In between all this, the three staff members helped the group with C.V.s, job applications and related problems. The odd tear was shed when we parted on the Friday afternoon.”
“My first task in the show was to act as assistant stage manager. This meant I had to make sure everything was in its right place both on and off stage.
When it was confirmed that everything was set and ready to go and the actors were in their starting positions, it was my job to stand off stage and hand Andy his props that he needed. To make sure i remembered which order he needed his props to come, i made a song in my head. Well, it wasn’t really a song, unless you call six words being repeated again and again a song.
‘Screws, manual, manual, outfit, teacup. ALIEN! Screws, manual, manual, outfit, teacup. ALIEN! Screws, manual, manual, outfit, teacup. ALIEN! And so on…’
Overall, I think it went well. There were a couple of times I should have been ready sooner, but everything still went smoothly.
When it came to the first show, for some reason I wasn’t expecting an audience reaction. So that meant I had to improvise and add a little extra to go along with the audience and actor interaction.
In the production meeting, it came up that too many people were standing on stage right, making it very congested. So it was arranged that Charlie, after finishing her role, would come over to stage left ready to give me help if I needed it.”