Creative Choices Day
Today we went to the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds. It was the first time there. Some people have been there even as performers, me, I haven’t been there not even as audience so I didn’t even know where it was located. We were grouped into 4 groups. Red, Orange, Green and Purple and got a t-shirt to attach a sticker with our name and our colour on it. This event was organized by the Theatre Royal and it’s called Creative Choices Day.
I was part of the orange group and this is the first workshop we did. Georgina Stone was responsible for this workshop and told us what her job was in the theatre. She is the education officer and she is responsible for arranging shows for children and youth. For example if a school said that there is bullying at their school and they need to show that it is wrong through the play of The Beauty and the Beast; show that people can accept each other no matter how they are. What happened was that we were split into 3 groups and each group had to do 5 freeze frames and a narrator would tell the story of The Beauty and the Beast. Our group didn’t really know the story, unfortunately, so we had some trouble organizing ourselves to portray the story because we had to invent. I didn’t particularly like this workshop because I didn’t know the story so I had to rely on other people’s knowledge.
Our second workshop was about the box office and front of house. I liked this one much more than the last. It was about how we would deal with people’s issues at the box office or as a duty manager. We have to be nice all the time because we don’t want to offend anyone nor get reported, or worse: fired. On the first scenario he had the problem of his 3 year old kid crying because he got scared while in the front seats. We had to suggest a solution to make the person happy. And the solution was to tell him to move into a seat that was further back and if that wouldn’t work we would maybe give him a ticket to see something more child appropriate in which the kid gets to see the actors without the costume and get to see that it’s all just an act. In the second scenario we had to relocate the seats of people who were at the front row because the performer needed space for a set of steps. A super fan thought this was unacceptable and insisted on having his seat. As the place was completely booked it was impossible to arrange something that would make him get his seat. The solution that we came up to this problem was to tell this super fan that if he didn’t have his seat moved the performer would not be able to do his act and he would be responsible for that. Something else that can be done as an option is to give the person a seat in the disabled area which if not booked can be done. As a last resort the seat of the duty manager can be given up. Last scenario had a person who had broken an ankle in the top floor and could not move down. What we can do about this is have a first aid person check the state of the person and if necessary an ambulance will be called. If the person does not want an ambulance then he will just have to wait it out because there is not much that can be done.
In marketing we were firstly given a paper which was the ‘media release’. This is a letter that is sent to people who frequently attend the theatre to tell them about an upcoming show that they might be interested in coming to. It costs a lot of money to send a lot of these so the people who this is sent to are chosen with the thought that they will likely be interested. If not then there is no point in sending it. We had a few minutes to read the letter and think of what we liked, what we didn’t, if we found anything peculiar or if we had any questions. In the end what we found most interesting as lots of other groups is the fact that the price was written from highest to lowest (£20.50 – £8.50). I said that I liked how the first word after the first paragraph of ‘the five W’ is ‘winner’. It states that that show is the winner of multiple things. And he replied that yes, we want the reader to be interested straight away and if accomplishments are stated first the reader will be more inclined to continue reading. And of course the first paragraph answering ‘the 5 W’ questions (who, what, why, when, where) is the most important bit of the letter.
We then learned how to get the theatre’s work into the press. There are multiple ways of doing it but the one I remember best is writing a press release, because we did an exercise on it. In this exercise we had to think of how to keep press interest over a 10 show run without reusing the initial press release we sent out. On the first deadline you could have a picture taken of the cast arriving. On the second deadline you could send pictures of the first rehearsals. On the third one you could send a picture of how the show would look when finished. The press loves pictures, so sending as many as possible is great. Obviously a story would follow these pictures about what is going on at the current time.
I think this was my favorite workshop even though I can’t remember most of what was said. I had questions that were all based on “what is in there?” or “what is this for?” but didn’t ask any of them because i would literally take up the whole time, and I’d rather have time to see everything. We were shown a lot of parts of the backstage in Theatre Royal. As a person who had never even been there as audience to suddenly go backstage too is a fantastic experience. From what we were shown I think my favorite rooms were the band room and the actual stage and what is just behind it. I also liked the workshop room in which most stage props were stored. Thankfully people who bring their performance to the theatre also bring their own stage props most of the time because the theatre just wouldn’t have the right things probably. There were some big doors that were used to bring in big things but they were pointless because before it got to those doors the things needed to go through some other doors that were smaller. But as I said I liked the band room a lot. Knowing that the band plays in a room like that, where noise is so horribly shut in, is interesting. Hopefully band members always use earplugs now. The device to raise and lower the stage was also really cool. Being up on the stage for the first time ever was quite cool. Especially seeing all those props from up close. Seeing doors that you can open and go through but you can just go around the doors without opening them is the most classic comedy ever. I loved all of it, and knowing more about the lighting and sound was also interesting. How the lights are hundreds of times stronger than our bulbs at home, and how the place where the person operating the sound should be centered but in this theatre their place is in a corner and it’s not the best place to listen for how equivalently sound is coming from each side. But thankfully with technology nowadays this is manageable.