Santa's On His Sleigh
Company Stage Manager for Imagine Theatre
Over the 2023 Christmas Season, I worked with Imagine Theatre on a brand new piece of children's theatre, written with Justin Fletcher. Here's some of the things I got up to throughout December.
From the first day of rehearsals, I was a key part of the company in the rehearsal room. I kept track of script changes, a necessay part of this new show for Imagine, as well as operating a playback and AV setup. A key part of this show was the AV, as we worked with pre-recorded videos of Justin in character interacting with the cast onstage.
This was the first time I had worked with AV, and I quickly learnt that it is unforgiving as a medium - AV does not slow down or speed up for you, it will always go at the same pace and you must match that for it to be it's most effective. I worked with the director, Imagine's Head of Casting Louise Redmond, and the cast to help them finess the timing of their lines and actions so that it matched the videos, particularly during trickier sections where the cast had to anticipate Justin on their own timings. This work paid off when in performances, as it allowed the videos to be naturally and fluidly integrated with the rest of the show,
I also helped build the set in the rehearsal room, seeing it for the first time on the first day of rehearsals, and building it with my Production Manager (Tom Boulton) and Imagine's Head of Operations (David Edmund). Working with them initially, we naturally transitioned to a stage where I led a regular rebuild of the set with the cast, as we had to move rehearsal rooms multiple time. In the end, we got so efficient that we were able to rebuild the set with 3-5 in 1hr 30mins.
The set for Santa's On His Sleigh at the start of the show
Tech & Performances
Technical rehearsals worked slightly differently on this production than they would normally. We had sound and costume in the room, so we spent the final days of rehearsals running through the show and fine-tuning little bits and pieces. This helped us massively, as when we entered the performance space, G Live's Bellerby Studio, the show was essentially ready to go, with only a few large pieces of set and minimal lighting to be added.
During the get-in, I worked with my Production Manager and Head of Operations to work out an operations/calling position, build sound equipment, test various parts of the show without cast, and working out what needed to be done for resets. After that, we did a dress rehearsal, and then launched straight into a run of 30 shows, commonly running 4 performances a day.
While not calling and operating shows, I liaised with Imagine's Head Office to process comp ticket requests, bring in and induct additional wardrobe staffers, accept deliveries, ensure Health & Safety policies were being followed, and checked in with the cast to make sure that they were feeling happy and looked after throughout a busy 4 shows per day schedule, which included Meet & Greets for children wanting a present from Santa after every show.
This show was incredibly fun to work on - it's been amazing to originate this show, develop it with a cast and make something that has brought loads of smiles to children coming to watch. Thank you to Imagine for trusting me and giving me a fantastic experience!