So, I’m sitting here in the dark during the lunch break of our tech. It’s eerily quiet given the riotous activity that’s usually going on in the space. Lights are shining through the steel frames of Hannah Dakin’s New York inspired set (the largest set ever constructed for a show in the history of Royal Welsh College and made of more than a kilometer of steel!). It stands as a proud testament to the college’s ‘can do’ attitude towards all aspects of a production. The team here are willing to push the boundaries of what is usually considered possible for the benefit of their students and for the production’s standards as a whole.
While performing on stage is an incredibly challenging and daunting task, the work that goes on during a tech and backstage during the show are just as important and require a vast array of skills. Not only that, it’s a HUGE musical, meaning there are many more moving parts, actors, sound jobs and lighting cues than in most straight plays. It’s a big operation which requires people to be sharp and alert at all times.
In addition to the challenges of doing such a big and ambitious show, many of my tech team (made up of students, are performing their roles for the first time, so they’re not only learning how to work on this particular show, they’re putting many of the skills and techniques they have been taught over the past 2 years of training at Royal Welsh College into practise for the very first time. As if that wasn’t daunting enough, we have a huge time pressure as we open to a paying audience for the first time on Friday night and many of the elements that have to come together are being done for the first time in the space with; the band, microphones, sound effects, animation, gigantic moving steel flats, revolving shopping trolleys flying around the stage and actors singing while hanging off ladders and out of steel Christmas trees! All for the first time! The support they get from their tutors is second to none. The students are advised well and supported greatly, always encouraged when apprehensive and woken-up when they are being dim! The college promotes this problem solving ‘can do’ attitude consistently.
The jobs list for stage management is never-ending and the team are working tirelessly to get everything done. Standards never slip, they also want the show to be brilliant in all areas.
My Musical Director Joe Hood has been working with the band, made up of students from the RWCMD music department. They’re getting in sync with each other more and more each day, and are beginning to gel.
My choreographer Lee Proud, has just sat down next to me. He has been prepping for the auditions he’ll be running for the Curve in Leicester’s production of HAIRSPRAY opening on the 28th of Feb.
We are so lucky to have both Lee and Joe working on this show. Their work has been fantastic thus far and I look forward to future collaborations with both of them.
In the midst of all this musical madness I’ve also been in the process of casting my production of MERCHANT OF VENICE opening in Singapore in April 2014. That means early morning casting video viewings via dropbox and skype. It’s the way of the world now. Most creatives have to multi-task and you find a way to cope. You have to be very strict about your time and compartmentalise where you can. The world doesn’t stop for tech (though sometimes you wish it would!)
I have total confidence in the team around me. They are working well together and have a passion for this business. While we will face many challenges in the days to come, I’m sure the cast and crew of RENT will look back on this production as something they are incredibly proud of. It will be a huge achievement and we hope it will be a hugely enjoyable show for all those who see our sold out run.
No Day But Today.