Initially, I wanted to do a week’s work experience at Richmond theatre to get an insight into the marketing side of the theatre – expecting to be in an office all week long, at a desk, behind a computer. What I didn’t expect, however, was to be gaining an insight into all aspects of theatre; ushering, preparing props, looking at scripts and helping out at youth theatre!
Having seen many a play at Richmond throughout my childhood, I knew the plays were always entertaining and well performed; the actors were always brilliant and the theatre itself very grand. But the play isn’t the only thing – I hadn’t considered what it actually took to run the theatre. On my first day, after getting a tour of the building (I’m still not sure where everything is though – the walls all look the same!) I read through the scripts of the youth theatre with their rather bizarre play about being sucked into a kindle by an evil dark lord named Lord Vile, and was told to consider costume and what the children would wear. Easy you might think, but no – each child had multiple roles in a fast paced and already crazy play. Finding just thinking about the costumes confusing, I began to understand what a tricky task it must be to organise the play, even before you consider teaching six energetic eight year olds their lines. And this was just one small scale production. Wow.
Later in the day, we - the other work experience-ees and I - received the privilege of watching a rehearsal of the same play, with the children themselves. Amazing actors and actresses as they all were, I still came out slightly shell-shocked after an hour of extremely lively children. In awe of the patience of their director, it was nice to see the play coming together after spending the morning looking at the scripts, costumes and props.
Ushering had to be the most fun part of the week – both Tuesday and Thursday I had an opportunity to work front of house with the other ushers while a play called ‘Dandy Dick’ was on. Clad in black bottoms, a white top and a ‘Richmond theatre’ adorned red waistcoat, I directed people to their seat, helped sell ice cream, all while being able to watch the play simultaneously! Although I’m sure not aimed at my age group, it was very entertaining. Perhaps the best job ever? The experienced ushers were great fun too; they told me all about what it’s like to work here, about the history of the theatre and were really lovely in general. Also, they’re all great friends with each other - it’s like a little ushering community within the theatre.
So all in all, I made some friends, I was able to see what it’s like to be an usher, a prop maker, a costume designer and although there was a little bit of office work on the side, I had a lot of fun which counterbalanced all that office nonsense anyway. I’d like to thank Jane Metcalfe, the woman in charge of work experience people such as me for a week off of school very well spent. I can now consider work: experienced.