Monthly Archives

March 2017

Interning at Omnibus

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Caroline talks about her experience as an Omnibus intern…

My name is Caroline and I’ve been an intern at Omnibus Theatre for the last nine weeks. I’m currently enrolled at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama doing a Masters Program in Creative Producing and as part of our studies, we were encouraged to do a placement in a theatre. When looking into placement opportunities, I decided to try working at a small venue where I could learn real hands-on skills and get the most out of my relatively short internship. And, indeed, Omnibus has been quite hands-on.

On my very first day, while producer Juliet Clark was telling me about the current projects, she suddenly said: “Oh and by the way, we have an opportunity come up to program a Short Film night for our LGBT+ festival Unnatural Acts. It’s happening in three weeks time. Do you want to take charge of that?”

My first reaction was: What? Shouldn’t I be making tea?

Obviously I said yes.

Being in charge of an evening, however small it might have been, was really exciting and taught me more about producing than any handbook could have. I had autonomy to choose the artists involved, organise the evening, write the deal sheets, prepare the tech, host the night…. Not many venues have the ability to give their interns real responsibilities like that. Of course, this sometimes felt overwhelming, but I was always able to ask for help and the evening turned out to be a great success.

So, what do interns do at Omnibus?

Every intern is attached to one or two specific projects. Over your time here you might start by supporting the marketing campaign of a show, researching its audiences, and eventually drafting contracts for the actors involved. The beauty of this is that you see the development of a production and you become part of its journey. This enables you to take on more complex tasks, as you can see the connections and have an understanding of the subject itself.

A big part of my time here at Omnibus was assisting our marketing department. I would draft tweets, take Instagram pictures, even come up with marketing campaigns myself. There is something very empowering about seeing your ideas come to life. I remember how proud I felt when I saw one of my tweets online.

Of course, not all the tasks you do here sound exciting to begin with. As every intern in the world knows, there is printing to be done, flyers to be sorted, or errands to be run. However, the people here always understood that these tasks are just as vital and the amount of appreciation I have received here has been very refreshing.

There is a reason why the Omnibus is able to take on so many interns: they know what it means to be one. Many of the people working here started off as interns and there’s a real sense of commitment in them. For instance, Rhian (Creative Learning Producer) checked in with me every other week to make sure I was still hitting my learning goals. And if I wanted to learn something specific, I would always be able to ask for a related task.

Being an intern at Omnibus has been an incredible experience. I have developed as a producer and grown more self-confident in my abilities. Overall, if I had to pick one thing that has stood out the most from my time here, it’s the people. It’s surprising how heartwarming, hard working, kind and full of laughter everyone here is. As interns, we are a vital part of this organization and after nine weeks I really feel as if I have become part of this team. I can only encourage everyone to come and visit this vibrant place.

My top 10 tips for getting the most out of your time at Omnibus?

1. Be proactive. Be curious.

2. Ask. No one can help you if you don’t say you need help.

3. Do you want to learn something specific? Ask. Tell someone about it and ask for a related task.

4. Be brave. Ask to learn things that you cannot do yet.

5. Don’t look down on ‘boring tasks’ – They are just as vital.

6. Don’t be shy to ask for advice, guidance or training. You’re here to learn, not to perform.

7. Go and watch stuff at the place you work! Why wouldn’t you?

8. Socialise with the people you work with. You might end up with vital industry connections. Or even better, friends.

9. Keep a journal of your internship and reflect – you’ll be surprised how quickly the time passes

10. An Internship will always only be as wonderful as you make it. So make the best out of it.

Intern photo

Some of our lovely Spring interns! (from left to right) Maddy, Lucinda, Caroline, Rachel, Pasche and Olivia

 

 

Five Minutes with Grace Smart (Designer, Spring Offensive)

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We caught up with Grace Smart, designer of upcoming show Spring Offensive, to discuss her work.

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Grace Smart studied Theatre Performance Design at the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts and graduated in 2014. The following year she won the Linbury Prize for Theatre Design for her work on Saint Joan at The Lyric Belfast. Her recent design credits include Wonderland (UK Tour); Here Lies the Remains of Mercy (Theatre Delicatessen, Sheffield); Shopping & F***ing at the Lyric Hammersmith and Bar Mitzvah Boy at the Gatehouse (all 2016), In 2017, East Is East for The Northern Stage, Nottingham Playhouse and Blasted at Styx, London.

Why Spring Offensive and why now?

Spring Offensive is a play about identity, especially national identity. I think the themes on patriotism are fascinating – how quickly does being proud of ones country become a disdain for others? How willing are people to shoot themselves in the foot to defend their country? What does it mean to cling so tightly to a sense of ‘Britishness’? These questions are obviously hugely resonant right now.

What is your favourite play?

My favourite play is A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams – in fact I’m a big fan of all his work. I recently have also become obsessed with Red by John Logan, it’s about the work of Rothko, and the relationship between the world and artists.

What has been your favourite design job to date and why?

That’s a toughie! So far it probably has to be St Joan for the Lyric Belfast, it was incredible designing a play written during the Easter rising, using such a remarkable female historical figure, in the country George Bernard Shaw lived in. Of course, a close second was doing Shopping and F***ing at the Lyric Hammersmith. Partly because it was such a radical retelling, and partly because it’s a fine play title to tell people you’re working on over and over.

What is the biggest challenge with designing Spring Offensive?

The biggest challenge is building the atmosphere of the room with out building the room. In an ideal world in my mind, we would have one audience member only, every single night. And that audience member would be forced to sit at the table with them, eat the stew, etc etc. I want the whole audience to feel like they’re in the room, that they can’t get out, and that they might have to stay the night too…

Spring Offensive will run from 18-30 April, book your tickets here

See more of Grace’s work on her website

 

A Q & A with…Deborah Manson

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March’s exhibition at Omnibus is Deborah Manson’s ‘A Labour of Love’. Inspired by her daughters’ personalities, Deborah Manson creates intricate and colourful heritage quilts.

 

What inspired you to start creating quilts?

I make paper collages with painted and found paper, selecting and placing colour and shapes together to create abstract compositions. I experimented with the process of placing and stitching hand dyed cloth together in a similar way to my collages.

Through my research I discovered the quilts and quilt makers of the Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Their quilts are layered with personal and social history which inspired me to make the ‘Eva’ and ‘Islay’ quilts.

How did you choose the materials?

I like to work with natural fabrics such as organic linen which I hand dyed in colours which I felt reflected elements of each of my daughter’s personalities. I also included pieces of their favourite outgrown clothing. Each piece of clothing holds personal meaning and my daughters were involved in the selection of the clothes that were to be included. I also included some second hand fabrics, such as the green silk which backs the ‘Eva’ quilt.

How involved were your daughters in the process?

They were very involved, right from the beginning stages. I see the quilts as a mother daughter collaboration. They made large scale paintings and collages with abstract shapes which they felt represented their very individual characters. I based the designs of the quilts loosely on their work. They had a lot of fun doing huge wall collages from cut out paper and dying the yellow fabrics with Weld. They were also involved in the quilting. There are parts in each quilt which they dyed, appliqued and quilted.

What was your initial goal when you started this project? Has that changed as the process has evolved?

I suppose my initial goal was to make sustainable textiles. I started this project coming from a printed textiles background and wanting to develop that. Through my research into historical British and American quilts, emotional sustainability and materials the project changed to become something much more personal.

What have you learnt during this experience?

It’s made me much much more aware of the connections between people’s stories and materiality; leading me to conclude that people and objects and in the case of this research, handmade quilts are inextricably connected through life histories, stories of hand making, cultural practices, memories and emotional bonds and that these important connections can help makers and designers to reassess the value of the things we make.

What projects will you be working on next?

I am researching materials at the moment and have been experimenting further with natural dye. I have set up a dye and print workshop in a local school where I am currently an artist in residence. This research will lead into some new design work and a new collection of handmade textile pieces, possibly including more quilts.