One of the pleasures of working in the arts is the frequent chance to help. We work in an industry that more often than not is more akin to a lifestyle rather than a business, something for which I am constantly grateful. As such, there is much more of a community essence that is built upon a mutual passion and love of creation, innovation, performance and artistic ambition. I believe this essence to be something to nurture, maintain and cherish and I am lucky enough to work for a venue and director that share this belief.
During the second week of January, I was fortunate enough to work along side Kevin Davey, Head of Performing Arts at Alton College, and his A2 Drama students. I was brought in, purely by way of a chance phone call, to act as technician for the students final performances which would not only be marked as part of their A Levels, but filmed and performed in front of packed audiences of friends, family and staff. Their task was to write, script and perform a 30 minute play without any constrictions or requirements. A chance to see what young minds could do. What emerged were 4 very different pieces of fantastic writing and theatre.
'White Lies' Production Shot
There have seldom been times when I've found myself in total jealousy of another’s education, but this freedom to express is something all adolescent minds crave in some way. However, my jealousy of such an opportunity paled in comparison to the dedication and determination shown by the students. There was clearly a high amount of respect for performance, their teacher, their environment and even to me, a total stranger with their own ideas of how things should look and be done, especially in terms of lighting and sound. Neither staff nor student could have been more accommodating or receptive to my ideas or advice and I think it's this that impressed me most.
'Why did the Chicken Cross the Road' Production Shot
The belief required to perform your own work, and the pride to perform it so well is a testament to the hard work everyone put in. Sometimes it was very hard work, and I was only part of the process for 4 days! The maturity to take direction, and the determination to continue rehearsing and repeating and re-wording and re-phrasing when perhaps a dress rehearsal didn't go so well, was really something to admire.
Nathan & 'Why did the Chicken Cross the Road' cast
Needless to say, all 4 performances went incredibly well, worthy of any stage, and I was left with a sense of pride completely unexpected as I had only known these people for 4 days whilst pointing lights obtrusively into their faces. Nonetheless, proud I felt, as should every student that took part, as should Kevin Davey for not only surviving such a momentous task but for helping to sculpt the next generation of theatre makers into such talents already.
Nathan & 'White Lies' cast
I hope I added in some way to the performances and I hope everyone present enjoyed the shows as much as I did from the tech box, but mostly I am grateful that my first opportunity to make some sort of a difference in 2016 was such a genuinely inspiring one.
Written by Nathan J. Selby, Phoenix Marketing Officer