On Sunday I started my volunteering with the Next Stage Youth Theatre here in Bath. When I say youth, I hope you’re not picturing small children, I would guess that the kids I worked with were all around middle and high school age. Going into it, I had absolutely no idea what I would be doing, I even didn’t know where or when I was going. Happily, the other ASE student who is also volunteering with them did know, so we went together.
When we got to the theatre, we met Lydia, who is the theatre manager and she gave us a couple things to do to set up while all of the students would be coming in. Let me also say, that in my experience of producing theatre in a space that isn’t yours, it’s really nice to be able to work in a space that is all your own and that you have control over at all times. But anyways, a couple things that I learned from the first bit of people filing in. One, squash is not juice and it needs to be watered down, I think it’s basically concentrate, although I’m not entirely clear on that. Two, I am not good at remembering names when I meet a bunch of new people. Mostly we were told the names of the other staff members, but I still don’t remember all of their names. And three, I entirely blank on a lot of my formal theatre training when asked to lead a breath warm-up, which they did ask us to do. Part of the reason for that is that coming from America, it’s likely that we will have new and different warm-ups from what they’re used to. We did come up with a couple things, so it worked out, but I definitely want to go through some of the old warm-ups I’ve done over the years.
After everyone had arrived, we moved into the theatre space, rather than the cafe we were in before. They had us lead a little breathing warm-up, then they did a movement warm-up and a game. I had actually done basically the same game before, just very slightly different. In essence, two people go about improvising a scene, then someone yells freeze, one person leaves, and the new person takes their place and starts a new scene based on the physical position that the other person is in. Then they divided into groups to work on devising short scenes surrounding the main themes of the next show they would be working on. The goal of that is to get an idea of who would be good playing what kinds of roles, but it was interesting for me because growing up, the theatre I worked with did mostly original pieces, and so the beginning of our workshops would usually be us devising or writing scenes around a theme, so it felt very familiar to me.
As basically part of the staff, we were supposed to go around and offer suggestions and just watch and observe. Being new, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing, and it’s a little bit difficult when the people don’t know us, and some of them are very close in age to us, so it could be a little difficult to feel comfortable stepping in. As well, I always think it’s helpful to see what people come up with on their own. Next week, they are finishing their devised scenes and presenting them, which I think will be interesting. Hopefully I’ll also learn more of their names and actually remember some breath exercises, we’ll see how it goes. I do think that overall, it’s going to be a good experience and a fun time.