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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
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.
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.
Sian is in her third and final year studying BA English Literature & Film Studies at the University of Leeds, and is the Backstage Events Officer 2018.
Hello, it is I, your Events Officer. You may remember me from places such as your Facebook notifications when I make all of my events in bulk – sorry about that.
“As Events Officer, you will be liaising with other societies to create socials together”
As the society’s Events Officer, it is my job to create and monitor all of the events Backstage hosts aside from the shows themselves. Socials are a huge part of this as I have to make sure that our members have the opportunity to unwind – as much as we love putting shows together, they can create a lot of stress in the moment, so having regular socials means that we are able to hang out without the added pressure! This is definitely a more involved role when it comes to communication – as Events Officer, you will be liaising with other societies to create socials together that make our show weeks even more exciting, or will have to keep on top of any bookings we may have from places like Akmal’s and Revs. Regularly checking the BSS email or your own accounts (based on how you have chosen to communicate) is crucial to staying on top of all of our plans.
“It is my job to liaise with the Publicity & Communications Secretary to maintain events such as Give It a Go’s, training sessions, and the AGM social”
Aside from socials, it is also my job to liaise with the Publicity & Communications Secretary (and the rest of committee) to maintain events such as Give It a Go’s, training sessions, and the AGM social. Events like these are crucial to our society as it is new & active members that keep our society going, so allocating time to introduce new and prospective members to the society or a new department is key.
The biggest challenge any Backstage Events Officer will face is Backstage on Tour – this is our biggest and most exciting annual social in which we travel to a magical place far far away (historically London, but this can change) to see a show and celebrate the last year. A lot of organisation has to go into this, so make sure you’re up to the task!
“You will arguably become one of the most approachable of the 8 faces of the society our members will approach if any questions or concerns arise”
Aside from the actual role, being an active member of committee is essential. Being the Events Officer can be all fun, games, and Facebook event cover photos, but it’s soooo important to attend the weekly meetings and form opinions on things that are happening within or affecting our society so that you can move forward as a committee. You will arguably become one of the most approachable of the 8 faces of the society our members will approach if any questions or concerns arise, so be sure you are equipped to help them. Encouraging newer members and showing them the ropes is vital – as a committee member, you need to be prepared to support your members! Being on committee doesn’t mean that you need to be a master in all departments, but it’s incredibly beneficial to pick up information on each role to make your BSS knowledge more well-rounded.
“Encouraging newer members and showing them the ropes is vital – as a committee member, you need to be prepared to support your members!”
As the AGM draws closer and my group admin privileges are removed, I have to say that it has been truly lovely spamming the group with events (that only I find funny) for you all, and I hope it has inspired some of you to run for Events Officer! It’s a great way to get more involved with the society if you #LoveYourTimeAtLeeds, so there’s nothing to lose. Feel free to message me on Facebook or send an email over to email@example.com if you have any questions about the role or being on committee in general x
Posted on 6th March 2018, by Sarah.
Lily is in her first year studying BSc Aerospace Engineering at the University of Leeds, and the Backstage First Year Rep 17/18.
“Being on committee has been such a highlight of my time at university so far, and I cannot wait for the years to come.”
Being the first First Year Rep in this society has been heaps of fun, and I’ve only been doing it for a couple of months! I knew before I even came to university that I wanted to be involved in Backstage, and so I’ve been pretty eager to get involved as quickly as possible. Being on committee has been such a highlight of my time at university so far, and I cannot wait for the years to come.
“I knew before I even came to university that I wanted to be involved in Backstage, and so I’ve been pretty eager to get involved as quickly as possible.”
I’ve been lucky enough to develop the role how I see fit, since it is a new position, and I hope that whoever follows me in this role will have the space to do the same. My main focus has been championing the views of anyone in their first year of Backstage, and aiming to improve the first-year experience. One of the most important tasks is being a voice between committee and newer members, ensuring that even the smallest comments or requests get fed back. I’ve tried to encourage people to get involved and take up new roles during shows by constantly messaging the group chat!
“One of the most important tasks is being a voice between committee and newer members, ensuring that even the smallest comments or requests get fed back.”
My main goal this year is to build a Backstage glossary for new members, to take away the fear caused by some of the theatrical jargon! I hope that this can be in place for the next academic year. I hope that whoever takes on this role after me will be able to develop even more ways to make entry into Backstage easier, whether that be through socials or improved intro training, Backstage mentors or a Facebook group. Anything is possible (within reason)!!!!
My part on committee has really built my confidence, and given me a platform to share my ideas and build my experience. I’d recommend it to anyone! Don’t let anything hold you back from applying for any role because you’ll be supported in any position. At first, I thought that committee meetings would be really intimidating, but that’s definitely not the case. It’s a fantastic environment to share ideas, and to get really involved in the working of the society. Being on the committee, even for such a short time, has helped me to learn about what it takes to run a society and all that goes on behind the scenes.
“Committee meetings are a fantastic environment to share ideas, and to get really involved in the working of the society.”
So overall I’d say take the plunge and apply for committee, you won’t regret it! It’s such an amazing learning experience and you’ll have heaps of fun at the same time. If you have any questions, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org ☺
Posted on 5th March 2018, by Sarah.
Erinna is in her third and final year studying BSc Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds, and is the Backstage President 17/18.
“I have learned that the role of President is so much more than what is written on paper”
Being President of Backstage this past year has been the toughest but most rewarding thing I’ve done at Uni, and also one of the best things I’ve been able to add to my CV! As mentioned in the constitution, my main responsibilities as President are to organise and oversee the running of the Society, and to chair committee meetings, AGMs and EGMs. However, I have learned that the role of President is so much more than what is written on paper.
“I also have regular catch ups with LUU’s Theatre and Performance Manager to ensure that everything is going smoothly”
Being President means being the main point of contact for Backstage (alongside the Secretary), not just to people outside the society. You can say that it is like being the ‘face’ of the society! I am also responsible for taking on other committee members’ duties, or assigning them to another committee member, should they be unable to fulfil them. Basically, I make sure everyone does their job and that things get done! I also have regular catch ups with LUU’s Theatre and Performance Manager to ensure that everything is going smoothly and resolve any potential issues before they arise. It is also tradition for the President to PM that year’s Rileys (although it isn’t a must!), so I’m PMing The Rileys 2018 (how exciting!)!
“It is so important that these relationships are continually developed as they are the people we work with most, and I have personally made some new friends through it!”
My duties as an Exec member, along with Katie and Chris Mee, include maintaining the healthy relationships we have with the various departments of LUU (mainly Venues/Tech, Activities and Facilities), performance and dance societies we work with, and our favourite hire companies: Zig Zag Lighting and 3D Productions. The way we did this was by having informal meetings with the Execs of the other performance societies at the beginning of the year just to introduce ourselves before shows start as we work so closely with them! It is so important that these relationships are continually developed as they are the people we work with most, and I have personally made some new friends through it!
“Being on committee is not just about fulfilling the duties that your specific role entails – it is also about being a good committee member in general”
I strongly believe that being on committee is not just about fulfilling the duties that your specific role entails – it is also about being a good committee member in general, i.e. going above and beyond what is required of you. How you do it is entirely up to you, as the role is whatever you define it to be! Being a committee member involves:
- Getting to know everyone in the society so that they feel comfortable approaching us;
- Ensuring members’ welfare and enjoyment;
- Giving members what they want and giving back to them;
- Encouraging the learning and development of members, especially newer ones;
- Giving first-time Designers/Managers the confidence boost they need to take on those positions;
and this is something I, and the rest of committee, have tried to do this past year! We also ensure the fair appointment of crews and oversee the smooth running of the numerous shows we work on. I also always try to drop in on Load Ins for the shows I am not on crew for (of which there are quite a few this year surprisingly), just to see how everyone is doing and help keep morale up as we all know Load Ins are loooooong.
“We’ve paved the way for three new collaborations, one of which included working down in the new Pyramid Theatre with Theatre Group!”
We have achieved quite a few things as a committee this year. We brought in a new constitution, elected our first ever First Year Rep, reviewed and updated the show contract, implemented a new policy for radio microphone and equipment use and hire, are in the process of updating guidance packs for Designers and Managers, and most excitingly, paved the way for three new collaborations, one of which included working down in the new Pyramid Theatre with Theatre Group! We’ve also had much bants running the society, and have come away from it having many a nickname. My first nickname as President was El Prez (lol). Over Christmas, I was Erinna the Elf (courtesy of Sazza). At the moment, my nickname on our group chat is the chain emoji (don’t ask why).
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help and/or support, be it from LUU staff, the Performance and Music Rep, Activities Officer, or from your fellow committee members”
My advice for the next President, and for the next committee in general, is 1) to not be afraid to ask for help and/or support, be it from LUU staff, the Performance and Music Rep, Activities Officer, or from your fellow committee members; and 2) to not be afraid to make changes; and 3) enjoy every second of it, even the hard parts.
“It has definitely developed my confidence and many of my transferrable skills”
It’s been such a pleasure running our beloved Backstage for the past 12 months, and it has definitely developed my confidence and many of my transferrable skills (that employers look for!)! If you’re unsure of whether to run for committee, I strongly encourage you to Just Do It (*bad dum tss*)!! You have nothing to lose, and if you get elected, I promise your year will be far from dull. As always, feel free to drop me a message on Facebook or email me (email@example.com) if you have any questions or want more insight into the role!
Posted on 5th March 2018.
Chris is in his second year studying BA Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Leeds, and is the Backstage Treasurer 17/18.
“THE BANK IS CLOSED.”
As was previously said by my predecessor Treasurer Grinnerz, we have no money. THE BANK IS CLOSED.
This past year has been a long year and a year filled with many personal positives in terms of LUU Backstage. I PM’d my first show with Dance Competition, which was the first sell out show in the new Riley, you may have heard. More recently I lighting designed my first musical with MT’s Rent. You may have seen quotes from myself saying, “musicals are boring”, but I can assure you that that was not the case this time and I thoroughly enjoyed working with MT prod team to bring their vision to life.
“It is this challenge that makes the role so rewarding at the end of the day”
Moving on to the point of this blog post, life as BSS Treasurer, it is a role with both its good and not so good points. The amount of oversight you have making sure the numerous shows are in budget and everyone who needs paying back is paid can often be challenging but it is this challenge that makes the role so rewarding at the end of the day. The Treasurer’s Google account is filled with numerous emails from all corners of LUU and beyond and the Drive contains a lot of useful but sometimes confusing and contradictory information. The most important document being the show budget spreadsheet. This contains a breakdown of the year’s budget and is the document that takes up a lot of my time keeping on top of. Also important is keeping on top of payments to our good friends over at Zig Zag Lighting and 3D and ensuring they get paid.
“The most important document is the show budget spreadsheet. This contains a breakdown of the year’s budget and is the document that takes up a lot of my time keeping on top of.”
Being Treasurer of Backstage is not just about the money, even though we have none, but also being part of the Exec. The role this group plays in the society is often not noticed with myself, Erinna and Katie often meeting with numerous societies and members of LUU staff, especially; Facilities, Venues and Activities, to ensure the smooth running of the society. So, if you are thinking of running for an Exec position, remember you’re the ones LUU go to so keep on top of your emails and messages.
“This year saw the implementation of radio microphone contracts in order to ensure their safe use and so any costs can be recuperated in case of any damage.”
My time as Treasurer has seen the consolidation and updating of Backstage policies and procedures started by the previous committee and mainly due to the LUU upgrade (is it done yet?) and previous investments. This is mainly behind the scenes things that you as members will often not encounter and the next set of committee members will need to continue this constant updating of the documents in order to ensure that new members have the correct and up to date information needed. This year saw the implementation of radio microphone contracts in order to ensure their safe use and so any costs can be recuperated in case of any damage. As always these will need constant review to ensure that they are fit for purpose, especially when hiring the equipment to external companies.
“I have loved my time at Leeds this year being your Treasurer”
As the AGM comes ever closer and my time as Treasurer draws to an end, I would like to say I have loved my time at Leeds this year being your Treasurer. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch with myself via Facebook message or email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on 3rd March 2018, by Sarah.
Katie is in her third and final year studying History and Theology & Religious Studies at the University of Leeds, and is the Backstage Secretary 17/18.
“My job is all about keeping the society organised and running smoothly”
As the Secretary, my job is all about keeping the society organised and running smoothly. I’m in charge (alongside the President) of doing all the admin for the Society, both within Backstage, in relation to other Societies that we work with and (predominantly) keeping the committee going!
“Secretary is a really important role as we make a LOT of decisions”
I’m in charge of making sure that committee meetings are running smoothly, and as the Secretary you need to make sure that everything’s ready for regular meetings. I make the agendas and minute the meetings, so that we have a written record of what discussions and decisions we make every week. As we work on so many shows, the Secretary is a really important role as we make a LOT of decisions regarding shows, crews and so on and these all need to be written down so we can justify any decisions we have made.
“I am in charge of making sure that the contract and constitution are up to date”
With regards to other societies, I’m in charge (alongside the Production Manager) of making sure the contracts are signed for shows, which is so important as it means that all our shows work smoothly and to the same lines. As the admin-sorter, I am also in charge of making sure that the contract and constitution (which are both actually v interesting documents, which says a lot about me tbh) are up to date and the Union has access to the constitution if they ask for it, as well as sending the contract to societies that we work with, both old and new.
“We have meetings with the Execs of other performance societies, which means I’ve got to know them really well”
However, as part of the Backstage Exec, my role is bigger than just restricted to admin. Alongside the President and Treasurer, we make the decisions on major issues that crop up (alongside the rest of the Committee), and if anything needs a super quick decision then we can choose to make it on the spot. If anything crops up throughout the year, Exec often have a meeting between ourselves before the issue gets brought up with the rest of the committee as well, so being Secretary means you are #privy to a lot of knowledge. We also have meetings with the Execs of other performance societies throughout the year to discuss shows and how they and Backstage are working together, which means I’ve got to know them really well throughout the year.
“You pick up skills in all areas of Backstage”
Being the Secretary is a great role, and I’ve really enjoyed my time on committee. I would really encourage people to run for it, particularly if you like organising things, as that’s pretty much the entire role! I also have a big say on what is going on with the society so you pick up skills (especially troubleshooting skills) in all areas of Backstage (#soundmonkey), which is always good. Being on Committee in general is also great for boosting your CV, and if you love the society then I would really recommend running. If you have any questions about being the Secretary (or being on committee in general) feel free to hmu on email@example.com xo
Posted on 1st March 2018, by Sarah.
Wei-Hsuan (Vivien) is in her first year studying BA Digital Media at the University of Leeds.
“Touring the Riley Smith Theatre made me excited for shows I would crew on”
Backstage society is one of the few societies that caught my eye during the Freshers’ Fair. I wanted to join a society that would produce something and I came to realise Backstage suited me the most. I had no prior experience when I joined the society. I was also nervous during the Give it a Go because I had difficulty remembering all the new jargon (DMX, XLR, LX 1,2,3, flies, band pit, cans, etc.,), but watching the way lights are operated and touring the Riley Smith Theatre made me excited for shows I would crew on.
“I wanted to join a society that would produce something and I came to realise Backstage suited me the most.”
I’ve crewed as Front of House, Stage Crew, and Lighting Assistant. Front of House is a simple position, and it was perfect for me when I started because I could watch others and learn without responsibilities that directly affect the show. Despite that, I still had to work up the courage to queue a crowd of strangers and answer the questions that they have before the show.
“The excitement and energy of the cast could be felt in the wings”
Stage Crew was fun in its own way. The excitement and energy of the cast could be felt in the wings. Usually the cast moved the props on and off stage, but sometimes the stage crew did it too. Most of the time we prepared the props in the wings for them to bring on stage. The finales were one of my favorite parts of the show because that’s when you can relax and know your job is done (well, almost).
“I remember being really nervous and jumping some cues, but everyone was very forgiving and understanding”
The first time I crewed a show from the balcony was when I was the Lighting Assistant for Opera Soc’s Marriage of Figaro. This role helped me understand more about rigging lights and how daisy chains worked. On the show nights, I remember being really nervous and jumping some cues, but everyone was very forgiving and understanding. It was also my first time on cans, and it was a fun experience because I could hear what was happening from different locations in the theatre.
“Everyone I’ve met has been so friendly, patient, and strong”
Set building was one of the few things I was able to help with (especially when they were painting). Helping the set designer build their vision of the stage was extremely fun and the designers were really creative and skillful hands on. A lot of effort and time was put into making the set, but when it is completed and on stage, I get filled with satisfaction.
Everyone I’ve met has been so friendly, patient, and strong (and I mean it physically)! For the first few shows I crewed on, I did not know what I was supposed to be doing while everyone seemed to know what to do. Since I wasn’t very strong, I couldn’t do a lot of heavy lifting. While in the midst of the load outs I was only able to be helpful with coiling cables and moving small things.
Now being a bit more confident with how things worked, I’ve signed up as House Manager for 2018 Dance Show and Assistant Stage Manager for LAMMPS All Shook Up. I look forward to working with the rest of Backstage in the coming year!
Posted on 27th February 2018, by Sarah.
Corwin is in his 3rd year studying Music Production at Leeds Beckett University.
“Projections are becoming increasingly more popular within theatre as it allows stages and sets to transform with ease”
Working on Exposé is always an opportunity for Backstage to try out something new. With ‘Seven’, they had a Garden of Eden set with projection of dancing silhouettes in the centre. Last year with ‘In-Touch’ they had the fly bars moving light boxes of apps, with goal post projection structures either side of stage. This year with the projections for ‘Suspect’, I decided to try out a video wall as the set piece at the back of stage.
Projections are becoming increasingly more popular within theatre as they allow stages and sets to transform with ease, providing the audience with a multitude of visual options to best complement the show. With this years theme of Exposé being crime, every dance had a new theme and idea. I wanted to make it very clear through projections that each theme and performance was unique, while tying together the overall story of a Cluedo style murder mystery.
The video wall itself was comprised of many PixelMesh P12.5 panels. It was three rows tall by fourteen panels across creating the 448×256 pixel resolution, fifty-six panel wall. At first it may seem very low compared to today’s standards with 1080p (1920×1080) and even 4K (3840×2160) displays, however, it was very effective and portrayed images perfectly for the performance. The pixelmesh also had another feature which was it has slits down the face of it primarily to reduce weight, but also allows light to pass through it. This worked well with Chris Morris’ lighting design of sunstrips behind the wall which shone through and broke up the image creating a very nice effect. The wall was rigged onto a ground supported truss frame just over 6 metres in width. This structure allowed us to rig the wall layer by layer with motorised truss, and allowed Chris to rig lights to the bottom and sides of the frame.
“It was important that the content I had complemented the performance on stage and never overshadowed it”
I operated the show off of Resolume Arena where I composed the show. Resolume has a series of columns and layers which is only limited by the power of the device you’re working off of. I used the layers to overlap and create interesting effects with different videos using masks, and the columns to distinguish between different acts going through the show. I also used Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro to create and edit videos to the correct DXV codec for Resolume, and ensure my videos contained the correct imagery that I wanted per routine.
“Sometimes don’t be afraid to not have a video as this may be more powerful for the performance”
Knowing what best to project is solely on preference however, it was important that the content I had complemented the performance on stage and never overshadowed it. To me it was also important for certain routine to not be bland and to match the energy on stage which is where certain effects and masking comes into play. Adding masks over an image can change the whole look while keeping it familiar, the same can be said for effects although they can be altered to make something really abstract as well. Find a combination that suits you, and sometimes don’t be afraid to not have a video as this may be more powerful for the performance than something on screen in the background moving or otherwise.
Doing projections for the show was a fantastic opportunity and one I would definitely want to do again in the future. If I used video panels again, I would break up the panels and rig them at different depths to create a more abstract look with varying interest. This was my initial idea for the show however I was unable to do this due to logistics in cabling, rigging, and working around the lighting design.
Backstage do not get a lot of opportunities to work with projections, less so with a video panel. There was a lot of work done behind the scenes to learn fundamental software skills on the aforementioned software and others to understand fully which direction was best for sourcing and creating content. Normally it would take a team of people to create video of higher quality of what I did before going to the projectionist.
“There was a lot of work done behind the scenes to learn fundamental software skills”
For anyone wishing to undertake this role in the future, I would definitely say it’s worth taking some time to independently learn about content creation and how to project an image to best understand your limitation and whether the projects needs to introduce a content creator or team of. That being said, it was a very rewarding opportunity in which I can go forward and expand on this new interest of mine.
Posted on 22nd February 2018.