Two weeks exploring technical theatre with YV Taking Part’s Backstage Pass

This month we’ve been delighted to have 9 young Londoners at the Young Vic learning the skills and secrets of stagecraft, as part of Taking Part’s Backstage Pass programme. Find out what they got up to below. 

Backstage Pass is a free course at the Young Vic where for two weeks we invite young Londoners to take part in exploring all aspects of technical theatre. The group spends time with the YV’s immense production team having workshops in Stage Management, Lighting, Stage, Sound, Costume and Construction. These workshops culminate in a performance of an extract of a play, professionally directed and acted, which the participants have plotted, built, designed and called.  To get a full production experience, they also stay for the ‘get-out’ immediately afterwards.

As well as their time at the Young Vic, the group went on tours and trips to other London theatres – having tours and/or seeing shows in the West End, Southwark Playhouse, National Theatre, Gate, Almeida and the Roundhouse. Our thanks to the staff at these theatres for being so generous with their time!

Daniel Harrison, who coordinated the project, said “It was really great to see the group work together, as the intricacies of their chosen area of technical theatre were interwoven to create the final piece. Lighting chatted with sound over the various cues, stage management with costume over the props used. Technical theatre does not work in silo, and the group soon learnt this, as well as discovering interests and skills that they had previously not known about. Ahmed said being Stage Manager made him ‘feel like an authority figure’ and Abdul on sound told me that he’d picked up tips to use on his own grime tracks!”

Leo Wringer and Nadia Albina in Backstage Pass’ excerpt of by Alistair McDowall, directed by Finn den Hertog. Photo by Beanie Ridler 

The Backstage Pass programme gives young Londoners an understanding of and foot-in to the professional theatre scene, not just at the Young Vic, but at venues across the capital. Not only is the course free (as are all the theatre tickets), but a travel and lunch bursary are provided to ensure that those on the course have no barrier in participating.

Backstage Pass has now finished, but will be back next year. Londoners aged 18-24 are eligible to apply. For more information please email danielharrison@youngvic.org.

“To say my experience has been incredible is actually a bit of an understatement.” – Brigitte Adela talks about Backstage Pass at the Young Vic

brigitte backstage pass photo

My experience of Backstage Pass at the Young Vic has been incredible! I have met so many inspiring people over the last two weeks and learnt so much from them. I signed up after being at a Careers Day in September that was organised by the Young Vic’s Taking Part team. After talking to them and explaining what my goals are, they recommended the Backstage Pass, and it sounded like a great opportunity to learn more about what goes on backstage.

I’m a Drama Graduate and for most of my degree I was either on stage acting or directing, so my technical knowledge was fairly basic. Since one of my goals is to create a theatre company, I wanted a greater understanding of how the different areas backstage work, which in turn would enable me to better articulate my design ideas, as well as find ways to create them.

Throughout my time at the Young Vic, I have learnt an array of techniques in various difference areas. A few examples are; building a canvas, rigging lights, programming a lighting desk, setting up a sound desk, painting wood to make it look like concrete flooring (painting wood to look like almost anything!), even how to tie a bowline knot. In addition, we also spoke to the Production Manager and Stage Manager about their processes. It was really fantastic to interact with people working in these areas, discovering how they got to where they are, how they work and seeing their passion for their craft.

One other area I have learnt about these past two weeks is the Taking Part Team. They have been so supportive and welcoming and just amazing to work with! From coming in to see what we had designed in our costume session, helping us set up our mini show, whatever it was, they always showed a genuine interest in what we had been creating. It was brilliant to talk to one of them about why I chose specific fabrics for my teapot design and seeing them just as excited about it as I was.

I have had such a lovely time on the Backstage Pass! I’ve met some amazing people and become much more confident in my aspirations. These past two weeks has given me the opportunity to feed my passion for making theatre, and allowed me to try out different ways I can be involved within that process. Before this week, I never once thought of Production Management being a possibility for me but my small journey here has changed that completely.

For me to say that my experience has been incredible is actually a bit of an understatement.

Brigitte Adela