Work Experience Blog

21 June 2019

Chloe & Natalie from Copleston High School joined the Eastern Angles team for 2 weeks work experience exploring the different departments of the company. 

Read their experiences below in the Work Experience Blog...

My name is Natalie Durrant and I’m a Year 10 student from Copleston who is interested in all things theatre! When I heard that our school was taking part in its annual work experience event, I instantly knew I wanted to partake in something theatrical. I conducted research into various theatres and companies in the area until BAM! Eastern Angles appeared on my screen. 

I was interested to do my work experience here as although Eastern Angles had performed countless shows over the years, I had never encountered them!  I was eager to find out what really goes on in the day-to-day running of a theatre and Eastern Angles has been the perfect place to do that.  

On the first day, after tripping down the stairs, I received a warm welcome from the staff. My fellow work experience colleague, Chloe, and I were given the crucial task of counting the stock! Jon Tavener (Theatre and Volunteers Manager/writer/brilliant singer of musicals) kindly gave us chocolate ice cream for completing the task in under half an hour (what a win!). Later that day we had an introduction to marketing with the brilliant Helena Quarmby (Marketing Officer). She showed us the different ways in which the company spreads news about the shows they are doing. We were then tasked with creating a marketing plan for the upcoming London production of Frozen. We designed a poster with Chloe’s artistic skills and my questionable art skills and the plan came out successful!  

The next day was a big day as we went down to DanceEast with Aly Tipping (Engagement Manager) to help with the Roma celebration event. When we got down to DanceEast we got to watch a physical theatre piece directed by the Gecko Theatre Company which was truly beautiful and inspiring. We then took our first selfie for our Work Experience Instagram Takeover before putting up photos on boards to display some behind the scenes snaps from the previous rehearsals. 

Afterwards, we had the exciting opportunity to help and be involved in a theatre workshop with the pupils of Handford Hall Primary School. They were extremely excitable and Chloe and I quickly felt comfortable to get involved and express our creativity alongside the pupils. As the evening rolled around, Chloe and I took our seats to watch the final Roma celebration performance which had us getting up out of our seats to give those involved a standing ovation.  

On Wednesday, I went with Jon to an elderly care home in Ipswich in order to interview some people there about their experiences with rationing during World War II. The experience really opened my eyes to the fact that the older generation have so many interesting stories to tell that rarely get heard. It was heart-warming to see how they seemed to light up when sharing the stories of their past.  

On Thursday, we got to spend a day in the office with the wonderful Jess Baker (General Manager). She showed us the casting website Spotlight which is used in selecting appropriate actors for upcoming tours and performances. We were then tasked with finding venues which could be used to perform the plays. Being in the office opened my eyes to the fact that there is so much work to be done behind the scenes of a production which leads to its success- it is the people behind it who should be applauded just as much as the actors themselves!  

To end week one, I spent a half day in the Box Office with the lovely Hazel Hicks who introduced me to the Spektrix system. I had the job of adding customers onto the system before checking that Copperfielders were correctly labelled. In the Box Office I was surrounded by countless folders allocated to previous shows and it was mind-boggling to know just how much every single detail matters when it comes to booking and selling tickets.  

This is the Eastern Angles Dome. Picture from Somewhere in England (2016).

The start of week two was off to a busy start as Chloe and I went down to the Eastern Angles workshop with Steve Cooney (Production Manager) to colour code the metal poles of the big dome which is set up for performances as a bar/mingling area. It was fulfilling to see how collectively we had completed a task which was more physically strenuous and, despite leaving with grubby hands and back ache, it was a very enjoyable experience. 

That afternoon, we went to another care home with Jon to hear more stories of the rationing for Food Wars. The people in there were very kind and a memory that will stick with me for a while is when one woman looked over at me at the end of the session and mouthed “thank you”. It was lovely to see how us being there meant as much to them as it did to us.  

On our final day, we got to experiment with lighting with the guidance of the wonderful Penny Griffin (Company Stage Manager). It was incredibly fun to learn how to create atmosphere within a performance while still communicating a storyline through the medium of spotlight, LED movers and many other different types of magical lights.  We even constructed a lighting sequence for our imaginary stage interpretation of “Killing Eve” using a stage puppet from the previous Eastern Angles performance of “Ragnarok” to portray the Russian assassin Villanelle.  It was some spooky stuff folks!  

I will never forget my experience here at Eastern Angles. It has been informative, fulfilling and I will associate it with nothing but positive memories. In the future I hope to volunteer here and even (if I’m lucky) maybe have the opportunity to perform in one of their plays myself!  

Thank You: Helena, Aly, Jon, Jess, Hazel, Penny, Steve, Neil and Ivan. 

Hi! My name is Chloe and I go to Copleston High School. In Year 10, we go on work experience for two weeks between the 10th June till the 21st June. I chose to go to Eastern Angles for my work experience and I’m very happy that I did. It's one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! And here’s why… 

I picked Eastern Angles for work experience because I’ve always been interested in theatre that includes both sides to it which is: acting and behind the scenes. This theatre looked like one that I would really get a good experience at. One of my friends, Emily, comes to the Sir John Mills Theatre to do monologues and her opinion on this theatre is very positive. This encouraged me even more to come here for work experience and I can see why Emily pointed out this amazing place to me! 

All the staff here are really nice, and they have been able to make sure that I’ve had a good time whilst making sure that I see different parts of the theatre and how it works. I must say, I’ve learnt so much more here about what goes on behind the scenes and that includes what I learnt in each department. Seeing how much work goes into creating a performance and being able to see how dedicated everyone is here at doing their job has been a real eye opener.

I have really liked seeing how they advertise for their shows through the internet, watching YouTube trailers, posters, leaflets, flyers and how they are able to advertise around the area. I learnt most of this here through Helena who does the Marketing. Natalie and I were even able to do a task to see the plan of how all of the posters, leaflets and flyers get put together. This was on our first day here, we designed a poster for Frozen…The Musical! On this poster, we included how we would advertise. For example, through flash mobs (we even managed to create a Reindeer one so that it would attract the eyes of families and give out a warm-hearted sense). Giving mini toys as handouts to children, so they would be able to get them interested, sending out letters to schools so that they can be passed down onto the children and sending out emails. Do you like our idea?  

I have been learning about what Jon does as Theatre and Volunteers Manager. On Friday 14th June, I was lucky enough to go to Peterborough with Jon. We went down to The Undercroft for the Young Writers Festival; I was able to watch some of the rehearsals which was very good because I could see them practicing behind the scenes! Later, I gave out all the tickets to everyone so they could watch the shows. I was able to watch ¾ performances so it was really nice to get an opportunity like that.  

We created a marketing plan as if we were marketing Frozen: The Musical!

On the 17th June, I was able to go to a care home in Hadleigh with Jon. We interviewed a group of people about the rationing about their experiences of how they managed to cope with it. I found this experience interesting because they explained how they were limited to what they could buy because there was war going on and they had many mouths to feed. They also started talking about rationing cards and how, even they as children, were taught how to use them properly. I felt very strongly that this experience, for them and for me, was a very positive one. Natalie was recording what they said so certain words/sentences from each individual will be all combined together into a play.  This will then be performed back at the care home and at schools. Each person at the care home will receive a script that can be passed down to their family. They'll be able to see that their speech and past experiences about the rationing has been put to use and that their memories will be passed down. This was such a good and interesting idea! 

Earlier on that day, I went down to the workshop with Steve who is the Production Manager. At the workshop, we colour coded the poles to make sure that there are no mistakes when the tent/dome is put up as they are the supporters for it.   

One of the display boards we put together for the Roma celebration event at DanceEast

I have been able to experience doing different activities every day and my favourite one was going to DanceEast with Aly, who is the Engagement Manager. We went for the Roma celebration and it was such a good day! We put up the display boards and pinned up the photographs of the performers so that everyone who was going to be watching could see just how much of a good evening they were going to have. It didn’t end there, we were able to give out cakes to everyone at DanceEast, which was very nice being able to offer them out to everyone. Then guess what happened…??!! 

…We had the privilege of being lucky enough to watch the actual performances on stage. One of the translators also sung, ‘Amazing Grace’ and it was so good, definitely a day to remember!

On our last day, Natalie and I were greeted by the lovely Penny who showed us all the cool lights and taught us how they use them in their shows. Did you know, we were even allowed to have a go at using the lights and making a performance out of them? To add on, we got to have a go at being on stage with the lights on us...fantastic experience! We Instagram-ed what we had been up to as we had the privilege of taking over Eastern Angles Instagram account. Thank you, Penny, for this awesome experience. We really enjoyed it and we learnt many new skills as well such as how to use theatre lights for a show. Won't forget this! 

The skills that I have been able to gain here and build on at this placement are of the following: number, information technology, problem solving, communication, building skills with others and they were all able to improve my own learning. For example, number was used when I had to scan everything in all the folders which were, leaflets, posters and flyers. The reason why number was used here was because I had to count how many of the resources were missing and make a list of them whilst scanning and counting how many pages had been scanned. 

Overall, I have really enjoyed this placement because everyone here has been so nice and made me feel very welcome so I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone. I have gained so many useful skills which I can definitely put to use in and outside of school and for the future. In all of the different departments, I have discovered how to do something new. This work experience placement has helped me so much and it's been so fun. Overall, I have had a great time!

Thank you Chloe & Natalie for joining Eastern Angles on work experience!