After being away from the clubhouse, for what seemed like forever, a shiny new TheatreiNQ sign was a welcome greeting. I poked my head into the office to say hi to Terri and Anne-Marie and then I got straight to work! That day we were working on the set for TheatreiNQ’s amazing new show ORPHANS (Shameless plug, I know, but for real GO GET TICKETS IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY!!). There's always a sense of excitement walking into the new building. You're always asking, what's changed since I've been here last? And the answer is usually HEAPS!! There’s always some shiny new development. The latest being: We have aircon now!!! How good is that?? So much has happened in the last few months in terms of all the incredible building updates. I mean, the costume room alone? When you compare the new huge space to our previous one, It's crazy to think that all of our costumes used to even fit!
Okay, I could go on forever about how utterly COOL the new building is but I’ll refrain myself and get on with the rest of the blog post!
All year, I had been itching to get back into the clubhouse and get my hands dirty again. As I dipped my roller into the white paint, I could hear the bustling noise of a production coming to life. It sounded like props being moved, actors running their lines, timber being cut, nails being hammered, and the slightly unfortunate sound of someone burning themselves on the hot glue gun. Terri popped her head into the workshop, on her way to do a thousand things, and admired the work in progress. “You know, that kitchen wall is actually going BEHIND the set, so only a small portion of the audience is even going to see it!”
Wait a minute. All this effort that Brendan and the crew had put in, building the cupboards and installing a sink and painting the tiles, and a million other details, and half of it wasn’t even going to be seen? As I continued spongeing the tiles, It occurred to me just how much perfecting goes on behind the scenes. The attention to detail is one of the things that make this company so exceptional. There’s so much to be done. So much thought, design, research, learning, doing, so many bits and pieces and smaller parts that make up the whole, with so many things to be done before ever presenting the final play on stage. And as a part of the Bridge, it’s pretty cool to be involved in all the little backstage happenings that make up a successful show.
For example; that corner of the floor? Oh yeah, I cut the timber for that. Those wood blocks in the ceiling? I hammered those ones. That section of the stage? I painted that, no big deal. BUT IT IS A BIG DEAL!!! It’s a great feeling to be involved in a professional company’s creative process at even the nuts and bolts level.
I finished that thought off by fixing up the stray paint splashes and then standing back to admire the set thus far. I wiped my hair from my eyes then realised I had just smeared paint over my entire face. Good! It would be like evidence of my involvement and hard work.
I had the same feeling of satisfaction the other week, after our initial workshop with the first year bridge kids. It was our first time getting to work together as an ensemble. Looking around the room at all these fresh faces brought here by the same passion, I was reminded of when I was a fresh faced first year! Keen but clueless. All the passion in the world and not yet the skills to make my dream a reality. That's what’s so
special about the bridge project; the opportunity to learn from industry professionals who genuinely care about your development as an actor. The difference between me as a first year and me now, is remarkable.
Example! There's this physical warm up we do called the Cat, which is one of the many warmups the company uses called KISS exercises. Now, the very first time I did this warmup, I genuinely could not feel my arms afterwards.
Like, genuinely. Like for real, genuinely. So approaching midway into my second year of the bridge project, when I was tasked with doing this warm up almost everyday for several months during show season, I was understandably nervous. And yes, at first it was a challenge. But surprise, surprise! Turns out when you do something a lot, it gets easier! By the end, I was relishing every second of the cat. I developed better technique, my movements were more purposeful, and I was no longer holding my breath. It had become a satisfying routine which I looked forward to rather than dreaded.
Now if you can't tell, this whole anecdote was a fun little metaphor about how much I've genuinely learnt and grown from my time at this company. But I couldn't have grown this much alone. I really do owe it to the training Terri and Brendan give us throughout the year and in sessions.
What is ‘sessions’ you ask? If you are lucky enough to be invited to do a second year of the bridge project, then you are in for a treat. And that treat is sessions! Sessions comprises of weekly workshops with Brendan and Terri, which prepare you for life as an actor.
Being in sessions is literally the best. Mostly, it consists of us working our butts off and scrambling for a notebook everytime Terri and Brendan casually drop a nugget of wisdom. One of my favourite things Terri takes us through is scene studies. Each week we layer different lessons and techniques until we create a polished final piece. We learn all sorts of translatable skills, including stagecraft, text work, helping your fellow actor, and my personal favourite, acting like a normal human being, (which is honestly harder than you'd think it would be!). Brendan’s teachings are a mix of everything from stage combat to Shakespeare. Each term brings its own set of excitement and challenges, and we are always looking forward to finding out which specific skill we’ll be learning from him next. Our morning sessions with Brendan are usually concluded with one of his legendary impassioned speeches, flavoured with a lifetime of experience and chock full of lessons and expertise that he has honed over his entire career. A speech, which always ends with him humbly saying, “but what do I know,
I could be wrong”.
Terri once described TheatreiNQ as a wolf pack. And it's true! Once a bridgee, always a bridgee, afterall. TheatreiNQ is full of opportunities to learn from amazing people. There are lessons to be lea
rned around every corner. I’m a part of this huge legacy, and it's a comfort to know that my small contribution matters. And big. Lets not forget the big stuff. That moment when the lights hit you for the first time, or when you nail a line that you’ve been struggling with, or when you get a huge laugh from the audience, or when your ment
or gives you a well earned compliment. That stuff sticks with you and you feel the effect of the art you've helped to make.
Which brings me back to that day working on the set. I had put down my brush for the day, and washed the glue and paint from my hands. Looking in the mirror, I noticed that my face still had that paint on it. I thought to myself, ‘I think I’ll leave it on’. A little reminder that I get to do what I love everyday and I’m a part of something bigger than myself. The best thing about it? I’ve still got my third year ahead of me! Here’s to another year of lessons, triumphs, failur
es, and paint stained clothes.