Now we own rulers! Sarah on her Backstage legacy (and a bit about what its like to be Secretary)

As Secretary you have all the obvious jobs like admin, minuting, filing, maintaining membership records etc. etc. bla bla blaa yawn. As part of the Exec, you’re also responsible for developing and maintaining good working relationships with LUU staff, as without their Help and Support (wahey) we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. This has been fun this year as there have been a lot of new staff who we’ve gotten to know and worked together with on how we can improve our working procedures and how we share our spaces.

TFW your show wins a Riley

I won’t bore you on all things Secretary since Katie who was more invested than I ever was, wrote everything in her blog post last year, which you can read at http://luubackstage.com/2018/03/backstage-secretary-18/. The role is a lot of constant work and sometimes life can get in the way, but the President and Open Seat are always there to help you out – shout-out to Chris and Sian for being my lil Assistant Secretaries this year and taking over at times. Nevertheless, here are some of my highlights from this year:

After handing P&C over to Lucy, I started my new and improved role on committee pricing up the first of many LUU Grants and l i t e r a l l y running around B&Q with Chris and a trolley full of Ryobi goods, so that Backstage was finally equipped with some Fresh New Tools. No more using string dipped in paint to draw straight lines! Now we own rulers! I also organised our first trip to LCOM Freshers’ Fair so that we could spread the good word of Backstage, and organised a nice new bookings calendar so that Committee and PMs could keep on top of what was going on in the Riley.

Cycling away from your degree again Saz?

As always, I have continued PMing, Set Designing, and hiring a HECK load of scaff this year (apologies), and after 3 years of being too scared, finally had a go at Lighting Designing with my Secretary Queen Katie Hayton which was a lot of fun. It’s important to not let committee take over from the reason you joined the society and continue to do shows and try out new roles!

Being on committee is great fun and has given me a nice escape from my degree which I truly h a t e. It gives you the chance to make positive changes to the society, as well as help members improve their skills and move into bigger roles. Although I haven’t done everything I set out to do, I don’t think anyone has ever been able to say that they have, and it’s nice to leave some challenges for next year’s committee!

I’ve had a fab 2 years on committee with some great friends, but now it is about bloody time for me to say my goodbyes (to dat committee lyfe, not the society – fear not. x) and focus on actually making it to 3rd year.

Posted on 24th March 2019.

“Someone please call a retirement home” – Sian on her time as Open Seat

What is an Open Seat, I hear you cry? If you find out, please let me know.

In my time as Backstage’s Open Seat, I realised that the role really can be whatever you want it to be. While everyone else on committee has fixed jobs and goals, I have been floating around picking up odd jobs, doing the things that don’t apply to one particular committee role, and helping out other committee members if their workload is too heavy. For example, there have been times this year where I have planned socials and taken over answering society emails for a brief period.

Sian enjoys picking up odd jobs, such as carrying home a 6ft light-up cross…

Being on committee in general is one of the best things I decided to do in my time at university. It’s definitely a commitment (obviously) but you can get so much out of it, and you get to give back to the society that you love so much!

It’s about seeing the strengths and weaknesses within committee and working out where you can make yourself useful. In this regard, the role of the Open Seat is definitely one that requires flexibility as it can change so often.

Open Seat is one of the roles you can have a bit more fun with than the others — you still have to put in the time and commitment like everybody else, but instead of doing the same job all year, you get to do a bit of everything!  

Having been on committee as Events Officer in the past and a member of Backstage for four years (someone please call a retirement home), I have found it really useful this year to utilise my past experiences and offer guidance to committee when needed. You don’t need to be an expert in every department, but having enough experience or knowledge to offer input is definitely helpful.

Being on committee in general is one of the best things I decided to do in my time at university. It’s definitely a commitment (obviously) but you can get so much out of it, and you get to give back to the society that you love so much!

As a committee member, you will pick up new skills and develop ones you already have. It also allows you to be a friendly face for new members, meaning that you can pass on your stagey wisdom to the next generation of Backstagers.

Whilst being on committee is a dedication, it doesn’t stop you from being able to crew shows, so don’t let that put you off! However, developing a good sense of time management is highly encouraged.

I have loved working as Open Seat this year, so please do apply for it if it sounds like the role for you! We all put so much time and effort into this society, and being on committee is so rewarding.

Posted on 24th March 2019.

The society has enough gaff tape to hold us all together. Lucy on her role as Equipment and Safety Secretary

Lucy proving to everybody that she is in fact taller than the 5ft scaff poles

Lucy is in her 2nd year studying History and Ancient History at University of Leeds

As the role name suggests, I have spent my year ensuring that our society is both well-equipped and safe. This included being the guardian of our radio mics (and crying and sending them away when they break), and the very important task of testing (read: standing on) people’s dubious constructions during load ins (@GreaseLightning, @SpringAwakeningHayBale). I’ve also spent excessive amounts of time on websites such as gaffatape.com and fireprotectiononline.co.uk spending all the societies money (sorry Lily) on ensuring that the society has enough gaff tape to hold us all together.

I’ve also spent excessive amounts of time on websites such as gaffatape.com and fireprotectiononline.co.uk

Does this tower look safe to you?


Alongside my role on committee I’ve also enjoyed getting involved in many shows yet again (this blog post is late because I was busy with another one, woops). I chose to take a step back from sound to try out other roles, with particular highlights for me being DSMing SMS’s ‘In The Heights’ and Production Managing the most fun show of the year- Panto.
I’ve had a great time during my year on committee. Having joined the society as a fresher, it was good to be able to step up and play a part in running it and I would recommend it to anyone who can’t get enough of our society! If you have any questions about the role of Equipment and Safety or committee more generally feel free to message me on Facebook or send me an email at equipment@luubackstage.com.

Posted on 15th March 2019.

There is actually a person behind those messages- Lucy publicises her love for Backstage

This is a tad odd as most of you will usually hear from me as the faceless “Backstage” on Facebook, but turns out there is actually a person behind those messages, and that’s me! Publicity and Communications is essentially running our website and all of the social media accounts (yes even the long forgotten YouTube channel) and responding to messages and emails that we receive as a society, which seems super easy right?

Lucy is in her Third Year studying MEng Architectural Engineering at University of Leeds

I had huge plans at the start of the year for newsletters every other week and videos of our shows along with so many other things, and although a lot of that hasn’t been pulled off, this year has been one of our best for getting new members fully on board with the society, which was my ultimate goal with all those aspirations. It’s been so lovely getting to see all of the new faces and watching people make new friends (as I have myself), and I have truly loved this year in Backstage for that reason. I hope you all continue to love it and I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store.

I had huge plans at the start of the year…a lot of that hasn’t been pulled off.

You’ll often find me at the top of ladders- I promise I enjoy it more than it seems

This year I have been more involved with shows than ever, and although it may be ruining my degree, it’s been wonderful. From PMing my first show with ‘In The Heights’ to lighting almost every other- intentionally or not- it’s been a pleasure to get to work with so many different people and to see so many shows go up successfully. A particular highlight for me was also being able to go and work at Edinburgh Fringe Festival for 3 weeks in August, which I wouldn’t have been able to do if not for backstage.

As for next year, you’re not getting rid of me quite yet as I still have another year at least at uni, so I’ll be sticking around for the foreseeable future, hopefully getting to see just as many members joining us next year!
I hope whoever takes on this role has just as much fun as I have had this year and manages to pull off a few more of their plans!

Big love to you all x

Posted on 14th March 2019.

So Many Forms- Lily on her time as Backstage Treasurer

Lily is in her second year studying BEng Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Leeds, and is Backstage Treasurer 18/19.

It seems only right that I’m writing this blog post in my home for this year – the cash office. I dread to think how much time I spend in here but at least it has comfy chairs. Becoming Treasurer has greatly enhanced my form-filling skills, to the point that I’ve now memorised the account details for Zig Zig and 3D. So I can’t say it hasn’t been useful!

Sometimes I feel a little like air traffic control, but instead of planes I’m managing payments through all the accounts!

But in all seriousness, my year as Treasurer has been a brilliant way for me to see all the hard work that goes in behind the scenes of our society. Being on Exec has meant I’ve seen what it takes to keep the society running and organised, but also the ways to make the society a better place for its members. I’ve found my role a tricky one at times but it’s all about staying organised and remembering to print your invoices! The role of Treasurer mainly involves keeping on top of payments in and out of all the many accounts Backstage has with other societies. The consolidation of this is the show budget spreadsheet, which has to be constantly maintained to ensure all shows stay within budget and that Backstage get paid! Sometimes I feel a little like air traffic control, but instead of planes I’m managing payments through all the accounts!

I’ve found my role a tricky one at times but it’s all about staying organised and remembering to print your invoices!

This year I’ve also stage managed my first musical, Urinetown, which was a fantastic experience. I always knew I’d be successful in the world of toilet humour but I didn’t know how much fun it would be. I hope that this has set me up well to get involved with some more shows next year, maybe even as PM?. Overall I’ve had a brilliant time as Treasurer and I hope whoever takes over the role loves it as much as I have.

Posted on 12th March 2019.

“Will it ever end???” -Chris reflects on his year as President

Chris enjoys maintaining a strong relationship with other Performance Societies

Over the last 12 months, as President I have been responsible for for overseeing the running and being one of the main points of contact for our Society. In addition, another one of my main roles is to chair our committee meetings. With the rest of the Exec, Treasurer and Secretary, I’m responsible for maintaining a good and productive relationship with LUU staff, our lovely hire companies and the amazing societies that we have here.

This year has been a busy one in the world of Backstage. Being into our 3rd year post upgrade (will it ever end???), the space has evolved more and alongside the rest of committee we have implemented and overseen drastic changes in our show planning, organisation and execution. One such example being the movement and organisation of all our belongings between our many storage spaces. There have been many a day where me and my amazing committee and I have come in between shows and spent a lot of time organising our spaces for the benefit of you all.

I’ve had a sick time being the President this year and whilst it can be stressful, time-consuming and often never ending, it is fully worth it for the ultimate reward.

This year has seen the continuation of our amazing collaboration with the wide variety of performing societies we have here at LUU. The shows we have made possible through collaboration with; MT, SMS, Panto, Opera, Expose, LAMMPS and the Dance Rep have been fantastic and it has been a pleasure to see our members flourish and continually improve and exceed expectations.

Although I personally took a step back from crewing shows, it meant I was able to offer a more supportive role for all productions throughout the year. I don’t think there is a show where I’ve have not offered help and support to the best of my abilities. My personal favourites being Dance Comp and Expose. Lets not forget musicals both MT’s Urinetown and Into the Woods also rank highly in my personal faves of the year.

I’ve had a sick time being the President this year and whilst it can be stressful, time-consuming and often never ending, it is fully worth it for the ultimate reward. I recommend this role to anyone and everyone, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me by email, president@luubackstage.com or find me on socials.

Chris loving his time spent with fellow Backstagers

On a more personal note, it is nearly time for me to bow out of Backstage and undergraduate life here at the University of Leeds. Don’t breakdown in tears just yet though, if all goes to plan I will be continuing my studies here and you will no doubt see me running around in my role working for the Tech Department in LUU or on a future crew.

The last three years have been amazing and I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those that have made me “Love my time at Leeds”.

Posted on 11th March 2019.

Why Join Backstage? A Freshers Experience

If you’re coming to Leeds in September, you might be starting to think about what you’re going to do alongside all that studying, but that can be a bit scary. Starting university is a daunting time for everybody, from possibly moving to a new city or even a new country, to making friends and settling into university life. Joining a society is the best way to meet new people, but with so many to choose from, its difficult to know which one is for you.

“I think the great thing about this society is that there is something for everyone and so much to do. If you’re creative or tech savvy you can take on a design role. If you’re good at organising (and bossing people around) you can be a production or house manager. If you’re wanting to learn more about tech things, you can be a Lighting Assistant or Sound Engineer, and if you want to take a less active role, front of house is fun too.”

Here at Backstage, even if you know nothing about technical theatre, there’s always plenty you can get stuck in to. The great thing about our society is that you can get involved with anything at all, from set design, painting and construction, to rigging and operating lighting and sound, to stage management and so much more. There really is something for everybody, and you don’t need any experience to join the fun. Between the Give-It-A-Go, training sessions and learning on the job from designers, you’ll become a pro in no time! Don’t worry though, you can take it completely at your own pace, so if you’re really busy with university or other societies, you can just work on one or two shows (or if you want to learn and progress really quickly, you can work on more!)

“Everyone in the society is really welcoming and so easy to get on with. Joining the society gave me a chance to learn so many things I didn’t even know I was interested in.”

Backstage society offers so many opportunities to learn a lot of new skills that you may not have even thought you would be good at. It’s a really fun and friendly place and is a great way to get to know people, as we work with so many other societies throughout the year. Plus, there’s so many other fun opportunities outside the society once you know your stuff-from Fruity to Edinburgh Fringe and big music festivals. Working on a show with so many people and seeing it all come together really is one of the most rewarding things, so you should definitely come and see what all the fuss is about:  

Come and See Us:           We’ll be at Freshers Fairs in the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds College of Music!

Give-It-A-Go :                   Saturday 13th October

                                        4pm

                                        Riley Smith Theatre, Leeds University Union

   

Posted on 16th August 2018.

Ruler of the Social Medias: Sarah communicating her P&C experience

        

Sarah is in her second year studying Computer Science with Mathematics in her third year at the University of Leeds, and is the Backstage Publicity & Communications Secretary 17/18.

Although it’s not part of the prestigious Exec, P&C is a big role as you effectively have two jobs: the publicity side and the communications side (as the name suggests. Duh.)

The publicity side refers to any sort of public presence, and I’m not gonna lie, posting sassy comments as LUU Backstage and having shit banter with people you don’t know is quite an enjoyable job to have. You have the power of running the luubackstage.com website, and our social media pages: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, (and the BSS Snapchat, however that died a premature death back in 2016 with D’arcy and her lack of phone storage), as well as the rogue YouTube account that no one knows exists.

“Posting sassy comments as LUU Backstage and having shit banter with people you don’t know is quite an enjoyable job to have”

Communications includes updating the society on what’s happening, advertising opportunities, making GIAG and training events, getting feedback, and writing newsletters. This half of the role is an extension of the Secretary’s job, so involves a lot of liaising with them as to who will take responsibility for what. This makes the Secretary-P&C relationship the closest within the committee, bar the one between the Exec. This year Katie has taken charge of the mailing list and the Backstage page on the LUU website, while I’ve been the one to reply to messages we receive on our Facebook page, since k8 already has the wonderful task of running the committee@luubackstage.com email on top of her own Secretary one.

The role spans a lot of areas and can be very demanding if you try to do all of it, so I’ve learnt to prioritise what’s important and what’s not. It really is what you make it and each P&C will prioritise things differently, so I’m just going to bombard you with a few of the things I’ve done this year and why. Good luck in making it to the end.

“Communications is an extension of the Secretary’s job, so involves a lot of liaising with them as to who will take responsibility for what”

Over summer I restructured the website so it was easier to navigate, because it’s one of the first things potential members (eg. me) look at before they even come to Leeds. I would have liked to do more with the website but I have found that my relationship with WordPress is not a strong and stable one. (If only I’d chosen some sort of degree to help me out with that?) Don’t let that put you off running the website though, you don’t really need any prior programming knowledge to do it and I’m going to put together a WordPress cheat sheet so whoever my successor is doesn’t have to suffer every time it filters out every <br/> you type, or when you mess up the homepage and Chris Morris has to rescue you. #logomaggots

“My main focus this year was on ensuring new members understand how we work and are aware of the opportunities available”

My main focus this year was on ensuring new members understand how we work and are aware of the opportunities available. Backstage can seem very complicated when you’re a fresher and there’s a lot to take in, so it’s quite overwhelming. It took me a year to become an active member so I wanted to try to prevent other people from missing out. Communications plays an important role in combating this so I introduced the new members document, as well as continuing the newsletters that D’arcy started last year. (Sorry they were not monthly like I promised. They are actually very time consuming and I have a degree to not do.)

“Backstage can seem very complicated when you’re a fresher and communications plays and important role in combating this”

My advice to any of the new committee is that there will be lots of things you want to do that there just isn’t the time for, so learn to prioritise jobs and don’t worry too much. To the new P&C, I’d say make an effort to work with the First Year Rep (after they’ve been elected in December) as they play a key role in ensuring communication between committee and new members, and that their voices are heard. Also: don’t be in charge of organising hoodies. I did and then realised, that is is not my job. Make Open Seat do it. They don’t have a real job.

I was unsure about applying for committee last year because I didn’t think I was good enough for any of the roles, but despite being told off by Erinna every week for being too “disruptive” in committee meetings #disruptiveindividuals, I’ve had such a fun year (and spent way too much time in the Riley). Being on committee, especially for Backstage, can be stressful at times, but everyone understands the struggles of Backstage and the rest of committee are very understanding when you don’t have the time to be as invested in your role as you ought to be. Degrees come first! (Apparently.)

“I was unsure about applying for committee last year because I didn’t think I was good enough for any of the roles, but I’ve had such a fun year”

I’m very thankful that people encouraged me to apply (bleurggh), and that I woke up in time to write my manifesto an hour before the deadline whilst hungover, so do consider applying! You’ll have a gr8 time and make some amazin friends. Email me on publicity@luubackstage.com, or more realistically just message me on fb where I am constantly online, if you want to talk more about the role or have any questions about being on committee in general! (Or talk to me in real life if you can catch me not asleep, in Essentials, or set designing yet another show.)

Posted on 9th March 2018, by Sarah.

“We need more LX tape”: Jennifer on Equipment & Safety

Jennifer is in her second year studying BA English and History of Art, and is the Backstage Equipment & Safety Secretary 17/18.

“The role is really what you make of it. It’s one where you can bring any random talents or interests to the group and apply it to the education and development of BSS”

You can probably infer what Equipment and Safety Officer (or E&S) is by just reading the title, but I’ll explain it a little further anyway! I’m in charge of maintaining, cataloguing and organising the repair of the society’s equipment and ensuring the safety of all society members and cast who produce shows with us. This includes reading risk assessments, training new crew members and being up to date with safety and insurance understandings.

“You soon develop a strong relationship with venues crew, Union staff and performance society members”

You soon develop a strong relationship with venues crew, union staff and performance society members, and can hardly go five minutes in The Union without bumping into someone you’ve worked with, crewed with or nagged that semester!

“The role is best for a creative thinker with technical skills and a desire to push the society beyond what we’ve seen it do before”

Like every position on committee, the role is really what you make of it. It’s one where you can bring any random talents or interests to the group (maybe film and photography skills? Sewing, designing and building? People or public speaking skills?) and apply it to the education and development of BSS. When you notice a issue with equipment, for example, or general improvement that could be made, the E&S is there to find fun ideas and solutions for the society however they see fit. The role is best for a creative thinker with technical skills and a desire to push the society beyond what we’ve seen it do before – something suited to so many Backstagers we have seen this year!

Posted on 8th March 2018, by Sarah.

He who has no job… Chris on sitting in the Open Seat

        

Chris is in his fourth year studying MBChB Medicine in his fifth year at the University of Leeds, and is the Backstage Open Seat 17/18.

Open Seat is 100% a role which you have to mould for yourself and find where you fit within the committee”

Now a washed up former President, I’ve been Open Seat (who?) for the past year – a role which no one, including me, really knows what they do. However, I’ll try and clear it up…

I would say Open Seat is 100% a role which you have to mould for yourself and find where you fit within the committee, which as you get to know each other becomes clearer, as you all pick up on all your strengths and weaknesses.

“Occasionally I get to be a bit more serious if other members of committee are particularly busy and in that case I sometimes pick up some of their responsibilities”

As someone who has been on committees previously, as well as working in LUU – one of my roles has been offering a perspective on what has been done in the past, or being able to share a lil’ bit of knowledge from the past 5 years which may help come to a decision (although often not needed!). Compared to being President last year, Open Seat is way more fun too (cue Erinna getting annoyed at me), but occasionally I get to be a bit more serious if other members of committee are particularly busy and in that case I sometimes pick up some of their responsibilities, whether that be checking the society emails, updating the website or attending meetings with societies or LUU if someone can’t make it!

“Being on committee won’t stop you from being able to still work on shows and juggle time with your studies”

It’s also important to stress, whilst being on committee is a commitment (surprise, surprise), it won’t stop you from being able to still work on shows and juggle time with your studies – I’ve managed to work on 4 shows this year, including Sister Act and Exposé. I’d argue it helps you to make the most of your time by being busy and manage it even better!

Being Open Seat for the past year and committee in total for two has been a fantastic experience, allowing me to grow in confidence, pick up new skills and most importantly make the best of friends! So, please do it and run.

Posted on 8th March 2018, by Chris and Sarah.