As a blogger for Theatre Royal Plymouth, I’ve been fortunate to be part of lots of interesting events around the theatre. From press days to Q+A’s, we’ve had plenty of opportunities thrown our way but our latest excursion was a little bit different as we headed to a location . . . that wasn’t a theatre! Shocker, I know, but stick with me! This time we were off to TR2, Theatre Royal Plymouth’s second home from home (otherwise known as their Production and Learning Centre if you really want to be pedantic). From costume to metal work, TR2 has the facilities to turn designs into magnificent sets, costumes and props and they create work for many international companies, as well as their own shows. Along with the production facilities, TR2 also has three rehearsal spaces used by professional companies and creative learning classes alike. Having been part of the production team on a few shows myself, I’m familiar with the very basics of production management. I may have even written a risk assessment once or twice, impressive right? However, with intricate and beautiful designs constantly in development, I figured this would be a great place to up my game and learn how to create the ultimate stage show. Here’s what I’ve learnt, you will need:
1. Experienced team – The guys at TR2 work with some of the worlds best producers and designers so you’ll obviously need an experienced and versatile team. In the case of TR2, they have skilled construction, production and costume workers that help get the job done.
2. Expansive rehearsal spaces and assembly rooms – One of the top reasons why TR2 is so popular is because of the successful design of the building. There’s a journey where sets can be created in the assembly spaces and then moved to the largest rehearsal room. Rehearsal room 3 is as big as the Theatre Royal Plymouth stage and can therefore hold very large sets. This is a great asset for the cast and crew as the actors can rehearse with the full sets and iron out any technical problems before they go anywhere near a theatre.
3. Thorough production managers – ‘But Zoe, how on earth do you turn designs into full scale sets in a matter of weeks?’ Don’t worry, I can tell you! Or rather, the nice production managers, Hugh and Nick, told me so I can tell you. Even though I’ve already mentioned the importance of working with an experienced team, the production managers are the glue to the production as they bring the show together by liaising with every head of department. From scenery to lighting, it’s their job to ensure each department runs according to schedule and sticks to the their budget.
4. Lots of storage – Since TR2 opened in 2003, they’ve created huge amount of sets, props and costumes so finding ample storage is pretty important. Thankfully, TR2 has several areas where they store an unbelievable amount of props and costumes for future productions to make use of. It’s a great resource for TRP and other theatre companies who want to make use of their work!
All in all, I’ve basically learnt that in order to make an impressive large scale production, you will need a lot of space and a lot of really great people behind the wheel. Be sure to check out TR2 if you’re in the South West and are interested in learning about production management.