The Shakespeare Festival is a two week event that happens at my old school, whereby the whole of year 8 perform abridged versions of Shakespeare plays. This year, I was employed to tech these shows, providing lighting and sound effects.
The four plays performed were: The Merry Wives of Windsor, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Richard the Third.
The lighting was generally quite simple, mostly being a case of “fader 1 down, fader 4 up” between scenes although some called for more varied states, making use of multiple states. The sound was more difficult, with various sound effects called for (such as an owl screech) during scenes, often in quick succesion. It also involved playing scene change music, whether it be through the mini-disc player, CD player, pre-set keyboard music or music that I physically played on the keyboard. In designing these lighting states and music, the main aim was to give each play a different feel and the highlight the differences between the plays, whether it was light hearted or more sombre. This was especially important with this performance I think, as the overall quality of acting was not too strong: “dazzle the audience to the point where they don’t notice the poor quality” was the command.
The particular highlight each night was the scene with the witches and premonitions from Macbeth. For this, I had to coordinate; lightening sound effects, strobe lighting, smoke machine, a microphone with echo and eerie keyboard sound effects. It took a lot of practice on my part but the scene was spectacular each night.
I think the most important thing I will take away from this experience is the huge amount of coordination and cooperation that must take place between a huge amount of departments to make a theatrical performance work. Everything that I did was affected by everything that preceded it and effected everything that followed. Flexibility is key, as if things aren’t running as expected then you need to be able to act quickly and think on your feet to remedy the situation.
Personal highlight – the stuttering Macbeth on night three… B B B Banquoooo?