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Case Study

Behind the Scenes Work Week and SEND Festival Producers and Technicians

Behind the Scenes Work Week

Our work experience programme sees up to 40 14–19-year olds engage with the building across two set weeks in the year. In conjunction with spending time in five ‘behind the scenes’ departments (Sound, Lighting, Wardrobe, Directing and Stage Management), the participants also work towards completing a Bronze Arts Award.

Although one week is a short amount of time, it’s perfect for the delivery of Bronze as it gives the week a real focus. We ask the participants to complete a diary entry for each day they spend with us. Some complete this in written format, or this year we’ve had some produce video diary entries. This provides the evidence for Part A (exploring the arts as a participant). After having a masterclass from the five departments across the Monday and Tuesday, we ask them to pick a specialism to work in across the rest of the week. They then work as a team to produce a small sharing event on the Friday afternoon, having themselves worked on all the behind the scenes elements.

During their time in their chosen department, they use the staff they are working with as their Arts Inspiration, and complete a worksheet which enables them to evidence this for Part C. Using the member of staff they are working with and learning from is a great exercise for this part of the Arts Award, as it gives them tangible careers links to consider when moving on from the work experience week. They also use these three placement days to learn a skill from the staff they’re working with, which then is presented in the Skill Share they complete for Part D. They work in their teams to plan the skill share for 30 minutes and then each department shares their skill, with a member of a different department reviewing it for them and commenting on how their learning experience was.

Finally, Part B is delivered by filming their responses to watching one of our shows in the module during their week. We ask them to discuss what they thought of the performance, what they enjoyed or didn’t enjoy and if working in their department for the week altered how they saw things on stage.

We aim to encourage participation from people currently underrepresented in backstage roles. In the last year 23% of participants have come from BAME backgrounds, 57% were female and 11% of participants have a disability. On average 10% of students a year go on to have further training with us as part of the Young Company.

Further information

To find out more about this project contact Royal Exchange Theatre. Click to see more information and initiatives from Royal Exchange Theatre.

SEND Festival Producers & Technicians

We are now in the second year of delivering a SEND Schools Festival, working with 8 schools across Greater Manchester to help them devise a short piece of theatre to be performed on our stage.

As part of this project, each school can invite two participants to fulfil the role of Festival Producer, who will then work with us between Jan – April on organising various aspects of the event such as deciding on the theme, naming the festival and creating the marketing collateral for the day. The programme is supported by Bronze Arts Award accrediation.

The project allows the young people to have autonomy over lots of aspects of the festival and the kind of work they want to be creating. Arts Award helps to structure this and helps track their progress across the project. To monitor this, we asked them to complete a skills wheel on their first day with us, which we will then revisit on the last day of the project.

Each producer completes a Producers Diary across their 4 months of working with us, they will also work directly with our marketing team to design the posters and flyers for the event.

Each school can also have two students work with our technical teams in two workshops before the festival. They learn about operating the board, use of colours and sounds to support their performances and creating a marked book for the day of the performance. Some of the students will also operate their school’s performance on the day.

This year three students from this project have gone on to participate in our Behind The Scenes Work Week programme.

Further information

To find out more about this project contact Royal Exchange Theatre. Click to see more information and initiatives from Royal Exchange Theatre.

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