Recently I had the opportunity to attend TheatreCraft 2023. After a visit to the Marketplace to talk with some of the exhibitors, it was time to head over to the Adelphi Theatre for the first workshop of the day, “Theatrical Trickery at 88mph: Explore AV.” During this workshop inside the auditorium, we rotated between the Sound, Automation, and Lighting & Video departments of Back to the Future: The Musical, learning about the technology behind the tricks on stage during the show. I loved talking to the Video and Lighting team and was surprised to learn about how they are in charge of any props and costumes that involve lighting, including hats and plutonium! Another highlight was getting to see how the DeLorean time machine operates – did you know that the musical’s car is actually an 86% scale replica of a real DeLorean based on a 3D-scan of the car?
Once the workshop at the Adelphi was finished, I went over to a workshop at the Sondheim Theatre, “Behind the Scenes at a Global Theatre Producer’s Office with Crossroads Live.” This workshop, hosted by Ed McGovern, Vice President of Corporate Affairs; Anna Hulm, Production Assistant and Jan Baister, Group Director of Marketing, went into what it’s like being a producer, and also covered the life cycle of a show and ways to get into the industry, enabling attendees to learn more about the theatre industry from the perspective of a global organisation. I particularly enjoyed hearing from Anna Hulm as she gave some great insights into how one might become involved in the world of producing.
The next event, also at the Sondheim Theatre, was “Les Misérables Uncovered: Technical Presentation and On-Stage Demonstration.” As someonewhose favourite musical is Les Mis, I was very excited to see some of the demonstrations and to learn more about the technical aspects of the show, and I certainly was not disappointed! Chris Boone, current Technical Director of Delfont Mackintosh Theatres and former Production Manager of Les Misérables, guided us through Lighting, Sound, Wigs, Wardrobe, Automation and Stage Crew, bringing on members of each department to show some of their role within the show. It was fascinating to hear from Boone about how Les Misérables has evolved along with the world of theatre, changing to accommodate new technology. One of my favourite demonstrations was when Gemma, the Deputy Head of Sound, played a range of sound effects including dripping noises, seagulls and gunfire, using speakers throughout the auditorium to show how different the sounds can be.
Finally, it was time for the final workshop of the day, “Building a Technical Career in West End Theatre (Main Stage Event)” at the Savoy Theatre. The panel was made up of a group of Savoy Theatre employees sharing their wisdom from years of technical theatre experience in electrics, general management, building management and other roles. I loved getting to hear what it is like to switch between shows in a large theatre like the Savoy, especially when bringing in enormous shows like Sunset Boulevard. Chris, one of the panellists, has been working at the Savoy Theatre for over 25 years and told us a story about the day that the West End lost power, explaining how they had to use generators to ensure that Gypsy that night went up only eight minutes late.
Ultimately, TheatreCraft 2023 was a fun and informative day that allowed attendees to gain a
wider understanding of the theatre industry while also getting their questions answered by
experts. I had a great time and look forward to attending TheatreCraft 2024 next year!
Blog by Kat Mokrynski
Photos by Aemelia Taylor