Back Down to Business

Hello again! Welcome back to my blog from Birmingham REP where I am working on the new season, assisting with the Autumn 2015 season and I begin my work on new play Back Down.

It’s been a busy 3 months since I last blogged, during my first two weeks here. Myself and Jenny (Creative Producer) worked together to bring October half term workshops together; one a lantern workshop and the other a Halloween workshop. The lantern workshop involved sorting and managing the building (we used an external venue in the Pavilions shopping centre), sorting deliveries, organising volunteers to help run the event, and managing the events throughout the half-term break. The lanterns were on alternate days to the Halloween make-up workshops; which involved me making kits of fake blood, clay, paint ect. (it was not a job I should have worn my white dress to do).

Our half-term activity went really well and all the families involved seem to really enjoy the day. We also organised for the lanterns that the families had made to light the way of the Christmas parade on the 8th November. Hallelujah the rain held back and we were able to take pride of place outside the council house. You can now see the lanterns hanging in our foyer, along with a few of mine (intentionally made to look like they were made by children, of course).

One thing you learn quickly in events is that you need to think of every potential problem and also be ready to do some heavy lifting- the best workout I’ve ever done was negotiating giant desk tables through a tiny door into our shop. It was a really fun time, the families were lovely and I got the pleasure of getting lost in the back of the Pavilions shopping centre while Radio WM waited to speak to us outside. Not everyone can say that.

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The lanterns decorating the REP foyer
Lanterns lighting the way of the parade
Lanterns lighting the way of the parade

Since then, my work has varied hugely. My work with Jenny, who is freelance, has lessened however, we continue to work together on several different strands. Predominantly, an exhibition by artist Tom Cross, which is now in full swing thanks to a successful Arts Council grant (phew). The exhibition responds to the theme “finding your voice”, a theme which runs throughout this season. We are having meetings with Tom and the design department here to co-ordinate the delivery of it and to explore how to present the voice of people who are often excluded, or find it difficult to communicate. We are also developing the adult strand of the REP programme; “REP extras” will include conversations with creative teams and writers. I am currently working on confirming these and contracting the relevant artists.

My mate from work
My mate from work

My work now revolves around assisting the Arts Team; made up of the directors, producers, a casting co-ordinator and an assistant. As you can imagine, it’s a varied department, and I got my biggest taste of it when a sudden boom in holidays meant I was left with a bit of everyone’s work to do. This included running a foundry night (running around after actors and writers) and organising auditions for the King’s Speech in London (this included a lot of phoning agents, getting lost on my way to Euston and even more running around). It was manic and so much fun and I really felt I got experienced valuable insight into the process behind a play reaching the stage.

Image from The King’s Speech
Image from The King’s Speech

One of my projects over the last few months has been to organise a screening of the Home Theatre performances, which I mentioned in my previous blog. This included inviting guests, organising the venue, food and co-ordinating the editing and delivery of the footage. It was a lovely event and Home is a prime of example of why I feel very proud to work here.

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My main project that I worked on before Christmas and will continue on leading up to my departure at the end of March is Back Down by Steven Camden (aka. performance poet Polar Bear). The piece will premiere at the REP and then, funded by the Barry Jackson trust, tour to non-performance places around the West Midlands in areas which often do not have access to theatre. These include community centres, schools and churches. The play then goes on a national tour, finishing at the Roundhouse in London. I have been communicating with the venues, organising the programming of more venues, sorting contracts and organising site visits. I have also been working on programming an Autumn tour for the piece; which includes a lot of bragging about how good the play is (which it is by the way). It has been really wonderful to be a part of – new writing and creating access to theatre are two areas I feel particularly passionate about and so I have really enjoyed being involved.

Image for Back Down by Steven Camden
Image for Back Down by Steven Camden

In between this I’ve been doing lots of odd jobs and had the opportunity to see the workings of the theatre. It is a really wonderful and unbelievably friendly place to work and must boast one of the best Christmas parties around (there was a snow machine- need I say more). Oh and of course one of the best Christmas shows (which some of my lovely interns joined me to watch during press night).

An impressive selection of Christmas jumpers
An impressive selection of Christmas jumpers

These 3 months have flown by and it’s been wonderful to meet my fellow interns and all of those at the REP. I know the next 3 will go just as fast. Now I’m going to tuck into a tiny tub of leftover Christmas ice-cream (perks of the job).

 

 

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