NEWS: Eastwood Park Theatre Offers Backstage Skills School

East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure is giving young people exclusive access and behind-the-scenes experience of working in a theatre with their new holiday workshops.

Eastwood Park Theatre has introduced technical theatre skills classes during their school holiday programme, offering the chance to develop skills and knowledge around operations, including sound, lighting, front of house, stage management and digital media.

Participants are invited to put their learning into practice at a live show or event.

The workshops are organised during selected school holidays by the team at Eastwood Park Theatre, who host over sixty shows every year, from live theatre productions and music performances to dance, comedy and theatre and film screenings.

Venue technician Laurel Hume, a Theatre studies graduate from the University of Glasgow who has worked at Eastwood Park Theatre for five years, said she wished the programme had been available when she was a pupil.

Laurel said: “Working in the theatre runs in the family – my brother is a Theatre Technician and my mum has appeared on stage in lots of shows,” she said.

“I appeared in several shows at Eastwood Park Theatre when I was a child, including musical plays and drama holiday camps.  I’ve worked as a steward here too and then started helping the technical staff. I always wanted to work in Theatre but there weren’t any behind the scenes or technical classes. It was more focused on those who wanted to be on stage and attend drama classes.

“We now offer both so this year during the Easter holidays, we offer Musical in a Week for those who want to develop their theatre and performance skills and we have Play in a Week – Tech Team, which helps young people learn the skills behind the scenes to make the magic happen.”

12-year-olds Mairead McKee and Dan Miller were two of the first pupils to take part in the course when it first launched last year. They were invited to assist with a show during the theatre’s busy pantomime season and an opera screening.

St. Ninian’s High School pupil Mairead, from Clarkston, said: “Getting a tour of backstage at the theatre and seeing how everything works has been incredible. First of all I went to see the pantomime Cinderella at Eastwood Park with my school and then got to come along and help out with the show one day too. Seeing the two sides to it has been amazing.

“I want to pursue a career in the theatre – probably in stage management.  I’m interested in acting and the technical side so this gives me all round experience.”

Mearns Castle pupil Dan said: “The summer week was really fun and we learned about how lighting cues work and setting everything up behind the scenes. I’m really interested in the technical side of theatre – my favourite subjects at school are IT and drama – so it’s been great experience.”

The technical classes run alongside East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure’s popular drama classes for kids and teens and the next tech team school is scheduled during the Easter Holidays, from 14-17 April.

Laurel added: “I really enjoy working with the pupils who have a keen interest in learning about the skills they need to work in the theatre. I love my job – it can be hard work but it’s really rewarding.

“It’s a big industry and you learn lots of transferable skills – the pupils might go on to work at music festivals, Stage Management, make their own videos or films or even end up on stage.

“You never know where the experience will take you.”

Play in a Week – Tech Team is part of East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure’s holiday activity programme. The classes are aimed at those aged 11-14, running from 14-17 April (10am to 3pm) and costs £82. Participants will practice new skills, working with young performers on staging their devised piece of theatre, leading up to a final showcase of all the skills they acquire.

East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure has lined up a range of creative, imaginative and fun activities to keep kids busy during the Easter and summer holidays.  To find out more and book visit: https://www.ercultureandleisure.org/holidays2020 or call 0141 577 4956.

Images: Mairead McKee and Dan Miller with Laurel Hume from Eastwood Park Theatre.