A View From The Wing
Third in our blog series is a post from production designer and stage manager Eleanor Mitchell, a finalist studying English Literature at Pembroke College.
When I heard that this year’s CAST tour would be As You Like It, I knew I had to be involved somehow. I first read the play aloud with a friend and fell in love with its vibrancy, with the energy that springs from its series of almost incongruous events and its crashing together of tender romance and bawdy comedy. Having developed stage management experience from working on various productions whilst at Cambridge, I was eager to bring my love of taping, risk assessing and cue calling on tour and applied for the role of stage manager. I was so thrilled (and a little perplexed, although far too excited to question it) to be offered not only stage manager, but also the role of production designer along with Abi, our fabulous education officer.
I have just arrived home following a month-long rehearsal and preparation period in Cambridge and so far I am loving the challenge of fulfilling both roles. Stage management is all about organisation, planning and logistics; you’re responsible for the safety of the cast throughout the performance and for ensuring that the show runs smoothly, which can mean anything from calling cues correctly to pre-setting props. With all the practical thinking this requires, I’ve found the opportunity to also have a creative input in the show greatly rewarding. Working with Abi to design the set and costumes has been so much fun; it has involved bartering with fabric shops in London, the joys of absurd yet perfect charity shop finds, and a considerable amount of sewing – a skill I didn’t possess before CAST! We’re really proud of the two worlds we’ve managed to create within the play, particularly given the practical limitations that designing for a touring production entails. Our UK previews gave us the chance to make further improvements and also challenged me as a stage manager, providing a taste of what will be required of me when working in entirely unfamiliar venues on tour. I feel ready now to embrace these challenges on tour and I can’t wait to put into practice everything I have learned over the past month.
I am also really looking forward to being involved with the brilliant education workshops that Abi has devised. For me, CAST is at its core an educational experience. As an English student and lover of Shakespeare, I’m so excited to have the opportunity to discuss and explore As You Like It with students from the schools we are visiting. I am very grateful to my College for providing the sponsorship that has enabled me to be involved with CAST; I have already found the experience to be an enriching and rewarding one, and I hope it will continue to be so for our audiences and the students we are to work with in the Cayman Islands and America!