Elle’s week with Durham theatre!

While I began this week slightly disappointed by the revelation that Durham University does not run a theatre degree, I soon discovered through the persistent work force of the small student theatre management team that theatre in all kinds is important to the diverse range of culture that this university offers. I am Elle McCloskey and I’m currently attending Belmont Community School in Durham and with a fierce passion for musical theatre and film, I was determined to find a placement for my work experience week that would expand my knowledge about these industries while also being enjoyable.

Having this been my first time on the Durham University campus, first thing on Monday I was toured around the Palatine centre by a very welcoming Kate. After quite a hilarious introduction from Sophie regarding her surprisingly wide range of interests, I used the brief information page and various social media platforms provided to write a press release the new upcoming student theatre studio space: The Spare Room. In the afternoon, Sophie and I walked down to the racecourse where all of the costumes, tech equipment and props had been thrown and stuffed into tight rooms (that I’m sure would otherwise have sports equipment in since I definitely saw a few rogue hockey sticks and canoe ores in dark cobwebbed corners.) Aside from a near death experience concerning horrendous pins and needles in my right foot, I had a really entertaining afternoon discussing my non-existent social life and top 10 favourite musicals.

Tuesday morning was my first taste of a professional meeting as I took minutes and (relatively successfully) tried to stay present in the moment without drifting off – no, the meeting wasn’t boring at all, I simply have the attention span of a hyperactive squirrel. That afternoon, I started to mind map ideas on how to present an advertisement video about The Spare Room until I was whisked away back into town to have a health and safety talk since the next day I planned to see the construction site of the new theatre, The Assembly Rooms, in person.

Wednesday started bright and early with a detailed visit to the construction site. I found it very interesting to0 see the gradual process of forming a theatre to its highest quality.  For the rest of the day, I slowly reached the end of filming my stop-motion advertisement video and so then came the time to decide the backing track. With all the edgy fourteen year old boys loitering on soundcloud, it wasn’t an ideal place to locate some royalty free music but after a lot of searching around, I found a few acceptable options. However, in the final round of discussion making, I realised that these tracks completely juxtaposed each other and so I needed to decide what vibe I was going for with my video – Avengers: Endgame or The Muppets? Eventually, it was decided the stop-motion was far too wholesome for a dark brooding soundtrack so the obnoxiously-sickly-family-YouTube-vlogger-style music was chosen.

With the exception of Ikea, B&Q is undeniably the most efficient place to wonder round and envision your unrealistically luxurious future bathroom, so imagine my excitement when Sophie and I spent well over an hour searching through the isles for polystyrene that was never in-store in the first place. Then, I spent the rest of the day ruining my new black jeans with superglue as I stuck newspaper to the sign I was creating for the box office of The Spare Room studio. This continued onto Friday morning and here I am, Friday afternoon, writing this outlandishly detailed blog post.

Overall, I am incredibly grateful to have been placed with both Kate and Sophie who are the only staff members of the theatre team, as they have opened my eyes to the vast expanse of careers within the theatre and film industry that hold as a possibility in my future.