Sept - Designs, Decisions and Desks

Sept - Designs, Decisions and Desks

And so it begins…

Roll back to the start of 2012; our theatre design class, at IT Sligo, was faced with an exciting proposal. One lucky person was going to be offered a Design Residency at the Abbey Theatre. We were given a brief which was to produce a set design incorporating theory we learnt at IT Sligo alongside the professional practices of the Abbey Theatre. The competition was on!

After a few months of preparation, our design debut was before us. As we set off from Sligo, we were full of nerves and anticipation about presenting at Ireland’s national theatre. The welcoming reception immediately made us feel at ease and we began to settle into the task that lay before us, presenting our models of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to all the Abbey staff. The feedback that we received was invaluable. They offered us suggestions to our problems and posed some others that we hadn’t even thought about!

After we adjusted, redesigned and perfected our models it was time for stage two at the Abbey. Once again the bar was raised as we presented our models to some of Ireland’s most established Designers and Directors. We left the Abbey on a high that was topped off by a tweet from Fiach Mac Conghail which read: Welcome designers, to the business.

When we returned west, we faced into the last month of our degree. As the end of the college year drew to a close we were still no wiser as to who was the lucky chosen one. We had no choice but to return home to all corners of Ireland and wait in suspense for June 1. That morning we collectively texted each other as we received our post, each of us hoping that we got it but equally glad if we didn’t as everyone was deserving of it.

That day I received the most exciting letter of my life. I had got it! I was overcome with emotion and unfortunately had nobody to scream at with excitement…………apart from my dogs.

On Sept 3, I began my graduate life at the Abbey Theatre. I can safely say it is a very welcoming and happy place to work. The relationship between all the staff seems to be one of professionalism mixed with understanding, a sense of humour and a love for theatre.

I spent my first week getting to know some of the main people I would be working with including Production Managers Andy Keogh and Aisling Mooney, Stage Technician Pat Dillon, Lighting Technician Kevin McFadden and Technical Director Gavin Harding. I also got to know the Abbey building, the costume store, the prop store, the workshop and the maze of corridors (yes i got lost a few times!). After my first week it began to become evident that college can teach you so much but practical experience is invaluable.

As weeks 2 and 3 rolled on I was continuously amazed at how much preparation goes on behind the scenes that I never realised. One of the perks of working at here is that people have stories to tell you about every question that you ask. You never get a text book answer, you get an example. But the biggest highlight was………having my first desk (oh the simple things)!

Backstage is something that the public rarely get to experience or appreciate. I went to see The Plough and the Stars and I sat beside a woman who was asking me what I did for a living. “I’m a theatre designer”, I explained. “Oh so you just decorate the stage” was the reply I received. This is a reaction that I have gotten numerous times and although sometimes it annoys me a little, I can understand how the audience might think that way as all they see is the finished product.

With all this in mind I decided that I would like to visually document what happens behind scenes of the theatre. I drafted up a story board to cover a time lapse of the process from model box viewing to technical rehearsals.

As it stands I have lots of footage to edit and perfect to the Abbey standard!

Wish me Luck and watch this space!!


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