Erinna is in her second year of Bsc Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds
“I’ve made so many great friends through this society, and got to do a lot of things I never imagined myself doing.”
The past year with the LUU Backstage Society has been amazing and it definitely made up a huge part of my first year at Leeds Uni. I’ve made so many great friends through this society, and got to do a lot of things I never imagined myself doing. I worked on various events throughout the year with Backstage, such as musicals, dance shows and awards shows, doing everything from set building, front of house and stage crewing, to sound engineering and lighting designing. I was lighting designer for the Rileys 2016, and that was easily the highlight of my year. It was my first designer role and everyone on crew were very helpful and supportive. I got to play around with different lights and also a smoke machine, creating different lighting effects that suit each performance. We also won Best Performance Society!
“Seeing a show turn out to be successful makes all the hard work worth it and makes me feel proud that I was part of the team that made it happen.”
Backstage puts in a lot of work into ensuring that the shows we work on are phenomenal, and all the late nights we spend at the Union making sure everything is ready for these shows are a testament to that. Seeing a show turn out to be successful makes all the hard work worth it and makes me feel proud that I was part of the team that made it happen. It’s what makes me keep responding to the crew calls and coming back. The lovely people in the society are also very welcoming and are joys to be around, and our socials are always fun-filled. We really do work hard and play hard! I spent most of my time in first year with Backstage, and I hope to continue to do so until I graduate from Leeds.
Posted on 8th October 2016, under 2016, blog post, testimonial, the rileys, by D'arcy.
Sophie studies BA Fine Art at the University of Leeds and is currently on her year abroad in Marseille, France.
I somehow landed a designer role for my first show in Backstage as the Set Designer for Guys and Dolls! I knew before I got into Leeds that I wanted to join societies, and Backstage really interested me. So I signed up at the freshers fair and finally replied to a crew call a few weeks later. I enjoyed the stress and chaos of pre production and loved the atmosphere of the show nights. For the next two years after Guys and Dolls I set designed two more shows and helped on lots of set build crews. I’m an art student so have always loved art and craft but especially enjoyed learning to build and design safe sets and working with the production team.
My advice to any newbie at Backstage would be get really stuck in early on, even if the other members seem intimidating, they’re not, so just chat to them. You’ll see that it’s a really easy group to become part of and everyone is lovely! Then, after that, my advice is also make sure you study, as much as Backstage is my favourite part of uni, it’s, unfortunately, not what I’m paying £9k a year for. (Sorry to be the bearer of bad news).
“I love making something and seeing it used on stage and the difference it can make to a performance.”
As for what to do at Backstage, of course I recommend set! I love making something and seeing it used on stage and the difference it can make to a performance. Obviously, all areas of Backstage make a huge difference to the performance but there is something nice about the physicality of set. The great thing about set is the range of what you can do. I would recommend to any designer to try to push this; the production team will probably give you an idea of what they want but if you have your own idea in mind sometimes there is room to play with. I also like working with the budget and having to be inventive with your money.
One of my best memories of my university life so far was joint set designing with Freddy Marlow (Hardcore Backstager) for West Side Story. The set involved creating a three-sided metal cage on stage and graffiti-ing all over the floors and walls, something we could only do because of the union upgrade! Working together with Freddy meant we had a good mix of the art side and technical side of set and, in my humble opinion, this made for a pretty good team. I loved going to see the show with my non-backstage friends and showing them our set! This is why I love set design at Backstage AND WHY YOU SHOULD TOO.
“I gained many valuable experiences and skills working with Backstage for the past two years and cannot recommend it more if you’re looking for somethings to add to your CV.”
As well as set, I have dabbled in other areas of Backstage too. Most importantly committee and as Production Manager for Opera Soc’s Magic Flute. Again, I definitely recommend applying for Production Manager when you feel you understand enough about Backstage as a whole. This was a brilliant experience both emotionally, as it was so rewarding to see the show you have worked to produce for months succeed but also as an experience to cite in job interviews and write on CVs. I gained many valuable experiences and skills working with Backstage for the past two years and cannot recommend it more if you’re looking for somethings to add to your CV.
As for committee; last year I was the Publicity and Communications Secretary, for Backstage Society. Committee was wonderful for the life experience but more importantly for the people I was able to work alongside. Four hour long committee meetings, loading out whilst everyone else is at Fruity Friday (actually this only happened once and was great), and crazy amounts of union food sums up my year on committee. This may not all sound wonderful and occasionally it doesn’t feel it at the time but I absolutely loved my year on committee! Backstage does so many great things and really feels like an important part of the union. It’s a great feeling being part of that, even if it is a small part. I met some of my favourite people in and through Backstage which makes any 3am finish totally worthwhile.
Posted on 8th October 2016, under 2016, blog post, set, set design, by D'arcy.
Jordan studied BSc Physics with Astrophysics at The University of Leeds and graduated in 2015.
I’ve been a member of the LUU backstage society for two years. It was the first society I ever joined, being in my third year at university, and wish I had joined sooner!
“You get to go hands on with loads of advanced lighting desks and fixtures, being responsible for everything from picking colours, right up to working with directors on how to achieve your joint vision.”
The main area I was interested in when I joined was lighting. I love the amount of creative control lighting gives you over the mood and feel of a scene in musicals, and the amount of fun you can have with it in dance shows. You get to go hands on with loads of advanced lighting desks and fixtures, being responsible for everything from picking colours, right up to working with directors on how to achieve your joint vision. In a lot of ways lighting really helps to structure the show, helping cue actors from the first blackout, to the final bow (even if they do occasionally miss their spot!). There really is nothing like the sense of accomplishment you get from a complex lighting sequence running perfectly.
“…the society really works hard to make uni life as interesting and as fun as possible for its members. It will undoubtedly be one of (if not the) highlight of your life at university.”
You also learn a great amount of useful skills, and quite possibly new career ideas; if like me you had no idea what to do with your degree. Using the knowledge I gained from Backstage I’ve worked doing lighting for festivals, club nights and comedy shows. The thing that kept me coming back to Backstage, and so heavily involved in the society was the people. Everyone is so friendly and once you take part in a few shows (and socials) you’ll be hooked! I was lucky enough to be on the committee for the society as Social Secretary in 2015/16, and saw first hand how the society really works hard to make uni life as interesting and as fun as possible for its members. It will undoubtedly be one of (if not the) highlight of your life at university.
So come and join the light side, and whatever your interest, Backstage will have something for you!
Posted on 16th September 2016, under 2016, lighting, lighting design, lights, by D'arcy.
Sorcha studied BA (Hons) Managing Performance at The University of Leeds and graduated in 2016.
On arriving at Leeds I knew I wanted to get involved in theatre in some way, soon into first semester I discovered LUU Backstage Society and decided to give it a go, I signed up to the mailing list and replied to the first crew call that landed in my inbox (Jekyll and Hyde) and never looked back. When I look back at my three years in Leeds, Backstage Society was a massive part of it.
“Stage Managing for the society was an absolute dream, going to rehearsal, sourcing props and then either being on hand side of stage during each show or in the lighting box calling the show.”
Throughout my time in BSS I concentrated more on Stage Management (Being my chosen career path it kind of made sense) than other areas within BSS. Stage Managing for the society was an absolute dream, going to rehearsal, sourcing props and then either being on hand side of stage during each show or in the lighting box calling the show. Each show brought new experiences for myself and everyone else on crew including meeting so many people from both the backstage and the performance side of shows that I would have never had the chance to meet otherwise.
“…I am going to miss hanging out with like-minded people everyday, doing something we all enjoy whether we intend to make a career out of it or are just looking for something to fill our free time before Fruity starts.”
After one year in the society I was lucky enough to be elected as Social Secretary in my second year and Equipment and Safety Secretary in my final year. Being a part of LUUBSS committee for two years was such a wonderful experience as well as being a huge responsibility and hard work, however seeing the enjoyment members were getting out of the society because of the hard work of our committee and and committees before us made all the 3 hour weekly meetings worth it. I could talk for hours about how much I enjoyed being a part of Backstage Society and how much I have learned from the society that has truly helped me with my career and how much I am going to miss hanging out with like-minded people everyday, doing something we all enjoy whether we intend to make a career out of it or are just looking for something to fill our free time before Fruity starts. I learned some great things from Backstage Society and met some of the best friends through it, an amazing society that deserves to be the best in category.
Posted on 15th September 2016, under 2016, stage, stage management, stage managing, testimonial, by D'arcy.
Adam studied LLB Law at the University of Leeds and graduated in 2016.
“It is very satisfying to engage with the audience members as they are entering the auditorium but also as they are exiting, as you get a real flavour of how much they enjoyed the show that you and your friends have worked hard on!”
Working Front of House (FOH) with Backstage is a really rewarding role, as not only do you get the chance to be a part of putting the show together by helping the rest of the crew during the ‘load-in’ period, you also get to interact with all the audience members throughout the week! It is also a great role for if you don’t want to get too heavily involved in a particular show, as there is very little to do until the load in period begins. Plus, if the size of the FOH team is big enough, you are often not required to be at every show night, unlike some other roles on the crew. You’re also in the perfect position to watch the show! It is very satisfying to engage with the audience members as they are entering the auditorium but also as they are exiting, as you get a real flavour of how much they enjoyed the show that you and your friends have worked hard on!
“The best part of the role is the number of great people you get to work with, and these great people are the reason why I kept returning to Backstage show after show after show.”
Taking the step up and becoming a House Manager is, in my eyes, one of the most underrated opportunities available with Backstage. No two show nights are the same, with different numbers of potential VIP seats to prepare, any specific audience requirements, and liaising the best way to sell tickets on the door and manage the queues of audience members. With control of the auditorium until the show is ready to begin, the variety of people a House Manager comes into contact with gives them the chance to make a really positive impact on the show every night. This includes conversations with everyone from your Production Manager to audience members with many more in between, including members of the performance society, the LUU Security team, staff at Terrace and Old Bar and your own Front of House crew. The best part of the role is the number of great people you get to work with, and these great people are the reason why I kept returning to Backstage show after show after show. By the time you do a handful of shows you get to know a hell of a lot of people, and if, like me, you stick around and do over 20 across a number of roles, then you start to really enjoy what you’re doing, and get really confident in your abilities at the same time. Specifically as a House Manager / FOH team member, when you see the smiles on the audience members faces as they leave the auditorium and then the smiles on the cast and crew’s faces when at one of the legendary post-show socials straight afterwards, it’s really easy to see why getting involved is so addictive!
Adam tried out many different crew, designer, and manager roles in all backstage departments, and he also acted as Secretary on committee during his long-time membership with Backstage.
Posted on 14th September 2016, under 2016, foh, front of house, house manager, by D'arcy.
Safi studied his MSc. Engineering, Technology and Business Management degree at the University of Leeds and graduated in 2015.
I joined Backstage Society in October 2014, having arrived at Leeds Uni for my masters degree. For the next 15 months, I crewed over 15 shows; working primarily on sound, I tried my hand at every other department in some capacity. Starting out as a newbie, I moved through the ranks by crewing as Sound Engineer and finally being responsible for two shows as a Sound Designer. I sincerely believe sound is one of the most important elements of any show; in the end, you augment the audience’s experience with what they hear and how they remember it, as they walk out humming show-tunes. I enjoyed the thrill of live-mixing every night; tracking the instruments being played, the cast mic-changes, the sound effects, balancing the band and cast so neither drowns out the other, and the inevitable scurrying to fix feedback loops. At the end of the show, if no one mentions the sound – job well done; you’ve made it sound as natural as possible to your listeners.
“…by end of my degree, I was an Opera-fiend, a Musical-fanatic, a Dance-enthusiast.”
As an active member of 3 societies during my time at Leeds Uni (was on the managing committee for one), my most unique experience came from Backstage Society; I made new friends for life here. You will be greeted by the friendliest people on campus; a close-knit family that makes an efficient crack-team crewing multiple shows over the year. I was never into musicals or plays or performance acts of any kind; by end of my degree, I was an Opera-fiend, a Musical-fanatic, a Dance-enthusiast. With just the sheer amount of people you meet; every show different from the other, over 30 different societies to work with, socials every show night, the house parties, the show meetings and prep-load ins, you are guaranteed to learn something and make new friends, every time you walk into the hallowed venue that is the Riley Smith Hall.
“You could crew every night every show, do only two a semester or just help out whenever possible and attend the socials.”
The most convenient thing with Backstage is, unlike other societies, you can choose exactly how much you want to contribute and commit to. You could crew every night every show, do only two a semester or just help out whenever possible and attend the socials. It helped me forget my dissertation blues as soon as I walked in, and by the time I left, I would still be laughing at a Backstage pun someone made, or just feeling great about how lifelike the fireplace I helped paint looked (turns out I CAN colour in the lines). It was here I learnt really useful life-skills (power-drill? Completed it mate), came to appreciate the performing arts (went on to see Phantom of The Opera at the West End with Backstage – wow), picked up on soundie-skills (with help from the most patient and forgiving members) and came away with some of the best memories of my uni life (“sleeping over” in a make-shift tent in one of the dressing rooms, during a 24-Hr Improvathon for charity).
I sincerely hope you enjoy your stint with Backstage and have as a passionate experience as I did. And then, I’ll see you at the 25th Anniversary Reunion! Balti King for Life!
Posted on 12th September 2016, under 2016, 2016-17, blog, sound, sound design, testimonial, by D'arcy.