RSC Next Generation: Backstage Pass
On the 22nd January 2018, we arrived in Stratford-Upon-Avon to begin our work with the RSC. Around 40 young people from all over the country had come to the RSC to create a performance of Act 1 Scene 2 of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. We had all chosen a department to work in and would all be responsible for different aspects of the show, including stage management, prop and costume, lighting and sound, front of house, and even marketing. We had two professional RSC actors at hand to perform the scene for us, Esh Alladi and Eloise Secker.
I was part of the digital department and got to work with two video experts at the RSC. We were tasked with creating video projections that would be displayed on the set during the performance. We had two projectors: one projecting onto the floor and another that projected onto a structure upstage. I got to see the full process of creating these projections, from consulting the lead designer to creating the videos and finally mapping them onto the projectors. We worked closely with the lighting and sound departments to time and combine our effects, creating an immersive atmosphere for the audience. I got see all kinds of exciting video effects projected onto the set, such as lighting strikes, huge waves and neon lighting.
As well as this, we went on a number of tours and workshops around the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) and the Swan theatre, one of my favourites being the technical tour of the RST. Above the stage was a maze of catwalks, booths and control rooms, with hundreds of lights and speakers. We also had a demonstration of the automated parts of the stage. These included trap doors, moving sets and stage shutters.
My favourite part of the experience was working backstage during the real performance. I was able to use specialist software and a backstage communications system to communicate with the lighting and sound teams and co-ordinate our cues. This gave me a good insight into what goes on backstage. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes that the audience may never know about, and this made me realise that there is much more to theatre than just acting. Professional theatre can require a whole range of people with different expertise, all working and collaborating to create an entertaining show. Working with the professionals at the RSC really enhanced my learning skills and greatly boosted my confidence. Everyone involved felt proud that they had contributed to what was a fantastic scene. I thank the RSC for the amazing opportunity and hope that more people get to experience what I did.
- Written by Year 12 student, Kai Jeffreys