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Student Blog: On The Verge of a Showcase

Back from spring break, I find myself endeavoring into a new opportunity behind the tech booth for the 3rd year show, Woman On The Verge of A Nervous Breakdown.

By: Apr. 28, 2024
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When I came to the UK to pursue my degree in musical theatre, I never thought I would land myself in so many other things outside of performing on stage. In a whirlwind of events, alongside my assessments, I have landed myself a part in our third year’s final showcase, Women On The Verge of A Nervous Breakdown, as a followspot operator which may well be one of the most exciting things in 2023 as well as ushering this weekend for a showcase. I had the pleasure of ushering for a Christmas showcase last year, but being a followspot is a completely new ballgame for me as I have never been in the tech booth ever. So here, I will share my first week in the rehearsal room.

The first time I was in the room was on a Friday, on the last week of our Easter break. It was also the casts’ first day back after the break, so it was as if everything was starting fresh as we returned to the grand Paul Chamberlain building. I was sat in between our director/lecturer and the stage managers who took their time to explain my part as well as the context of each scene they were running for the day as they were focused on marking them in segments before moving to start on act 2. To compensate for my lack of experience in a tech booth, I knew I could employ quite a number of things I had learnt from being a stage hand and a performer. Primarily, these things were how to take notes. Having done our swing project, I knew how chart out and mark stage maps which has been incredibly helpful while I am still familiarizing myself with the show. The first day entailed a lot of learning the plot and the casts as the show is double casted, split into the Carmen and Penelope cast, and it was highly adviced I did it quick so that cues would become easier for me. I knew the casts by name but it was the hustle of remembering who shares the same roles.

I have much to reorganize in my notebooks as all the marking is quite scattered but watching the real thing was truly the most helpful. If anything, marking is helpful when set pieces move about which happens a lot in this rendition of the show as the set relies very heavily on furniture, panels and a grand set of stairs to paint the picture of Madrid’s beauty.

Along the process, I discovered just how collaborative the showcase. The 3rd year cohort has four dance captains to lead dances as well as warm-ups, and one of their students, and a close friend of mine, is assistant music director which I find so cool. She’s told me her part in the process as assistant MD which entailed writing additional harmonies as well helping with harmony guides. Seeing her in action in the room is always so cool, and it makes me excited that our cohort will have more opportunities that does not seclude us into just performing on stage. Another student works as the assistant stage manager backstage, mostly dealing with props and ensuring that backstage is orderly. Before most runs, he would go through a quick debrief of dos and don’ts, run risk assessments and deliver the notes to ensure the casts’ safety; without his extra eye, much would be a mess, but keeps everything together.

As I was brought in halfway through, I was told to come in as much as I could so I’ve had a lot to do. In between classes, sometimes before, I would head straight to the rehearsal room, then out for another class, then back in until they end at 6pm. There have been a lot of instances where I’ve just left my bag in the rehearsal room knowing full well that I would be back in a few hours, and I would be running from one building to another. I’ve never had to rush about this much and a part of me wishes I had some means of transportation to get me across campus faster as my lectures would be at the opposite end of the university grounds from the studios. Making the run is a workout, but I love the adrenaline rush. I get so excited getting into the rehearsal room, full of energy. Sweaty, nonetheless, but thrilled.

Just yesterday, I had the chance to watch a full run of act 2 in the morning before my acting class then a full run of act 1 after class. I truly cannot describe to you in words how incredible the show is, it’s simply an experience everyone has to see so I highly recommend coming down to the Winchester Theatre Royal for this incredible show. Having just finished act 2 as well, the whole musical came together seamlessly, and I cannot wait to see more of it across the next few weeks. It is intimidating knowing that show weeks are nearing, but now that I have had a week to acquaint myself with the work, I like to think that my nerves are easing up. With a book full of notes, the cast in my head and a fun time ahead, I should be all good to go.

It's only the first week back from Easter and much has happened in the past week. I’ve had to film some self-tapes, and I’m not entirely done with them as I need five of them. I have multiple other assessments to prepare for which has been piling on to each other but that’s what I’m here for. I am here for the hustle.

I do not have much else to show from my first week as it’s mostly minor notes here and there but the day we move it all to the stage for tech, the adventure continues by a tenfold of excitement. I was warned that I will have to skip my classes, but with most assessment work being independent, I trust that I will be alright. I’ll see you on here the next time I document my adventures!

And if you happen to be nearby Winchester, come on down and watch the show!


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