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Trip to The National Theatre on the South Bank

Posted on: 20/11/2019

On Wednesday 20th November, Year 9 3D students visited The National Theatre on the South Bank. The students attended a Creative Choices Day, part of the National Theatre’s Learning Programme which aims to offer opportunities for students to explore a range of careers within theatre.

The day started in the Dorfman Theatre (NT’s smallest stage) with a quick demonstration of the variety of backstage roles required to put on a successful play, before a series of more in-depth workshops and tours.

Firstly we got to meet Alice Colley, a Scenic Artist working for the NT who introduced the students to the intricacies of her role, which involves close communication with the Stage Designer and creative problem solving in order to prepare all the scenic art on time. According to Colley, working as a Scenic Artist is an exciting and challenging role where every day is different, messy and fun. The artist also demonstrated a variety of techniques and materials she uses to create props, and students got to witness first-hand how easy it is - with a bit of creativity - to trick us into thinking a piece of wood is actually metal, or that blocks of polystyrene are bricks. We then had the opportunity to tour a high level walkway through the different areas of the theatre, from prop making and scenic art studios, to the prop storage facilities.

After a much-deserved lunch break, we went back to the Dorfman Theatre to explore sound, lighting and stage management with the theatre crew. This highlighted the importance of communication and teamwork to make sure plays run smoothly. Every detail - from providing timely cues to avoiding distracting shadows - is taken into account and meticulously managed by the stage management crew. The Dorfman has around 90 speakers and hundreds of lights which must be perfectly controlled by the sound and lighting team to allow for the audience to get truly immersed in the theatrical experience, and believe the play.

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