TR2 the Theatre Royal Plymouth’s production and learning centre creates endless possibilities both on and off stage. From the creation of innovative sets, costume design, props and workshops the venue is responsible for producing a wide variety of outstanding productions in addition to providing multiple creative learning programmes. This week we were invited to meet with Production Manager’s Hugh and Nick as part of the Theatre’s Bloggers scheme, who kindly offered to tell us a little more about their roles within TR2, the Theatre Royal Plymouth and how they make these productions possible. Arriving at TR2 I couldn’t wait to see where the productions begin and thinking back to past performances I was eager to learn about the creative process behind them.
As a production manager you are responsible for overseeing the creative process. Brought onto the production in the devising stages, the production manager will initially meet with the director to discuss the original ideas for the productions design, narrative and scale. Hugh explained that it’s about taking an idea and developing it further. Listening to the directors intentions and visualising how you get there collectively as a team. From there meetings will take place where factors such as Budget, venues and safety are considered.
Presented through sketches and re-imagined in White Card models the design of the production is passed onto the production team with a plan of the venue. Hugh and Nick then evaluate and discuss whether it is possible factoring in the time-line set for the production and present options that could work to ensure the teams ideas are made into a reality.
With the Theatre Royal Plymouth hosting and producing a wide variety of stunning productions each and every year, the production teams usually work on more than one project at a time. Involved in every aspect of the creative process, production will remain on the project for its entire duration managing the time-frames for set, props and costume in addition to scheduling rehearsals and viewing potential venues through to press. Although challenging both agreed that it is incredibly rewarding to see a production come together and there’s nothing quite like watching its transformation to the stage.
Sharing with us what first encouraged them to pursue production management Hugh told us how he began working backstage at the Theatre before deciding to train in management. Similarly Nick stated having always had a strong interest in theatre he just knew it was something that he wanted to pursue making it even more enjoyable.
Telling us a little more about TR2 Hugh shared that the venue provides some of the country’s most sought after rehearsal studios which are built to scale. As Production Manager’s the team source material both locally and regionally with company’s travelling from across the country to the facility. With a little creativity around every corner the centre has been home to some of the Theatre Royal Plymouth’s much-loved productions. With both Hugh and Nick having previously worked on ‘Big: The Musical’ and Glenn Waldron’s, ‘The Here and this and Now’ we were able to view designs and stage plans for both. Having watched the productions it was surreal to see how they both started.
Working in production management they both agree that it’s the experiences and opportunities available that you never tire of. Usually, the first to arrive and the last to leave there are always new challenges and possibilities. Imagining which direction a production can be taken in and finding out how you get there is the fun part. It was fascinating to learn more about the work that happens behind the scenes and following on from our meeting with Hugh and Nick we were given the exciting opportunity to tour TR2. Working in partnership with the Theatre Royal Plymouth the award-winning site is one of the largest theatre facility’s in the country.
We were able to see rehearsals taking place for upcoming productions before touring the wardrobe departments which were filled with roles of brightly coloured fabrics and familiar costumes from past performances. The production offices overlooked the workshops allowing us to see the sections of set and framework under construction whilst the scale of the workshops themselves were incredible. The Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Production and learning centre is truly captivating. Surrounded by the many creative departments and a variety of Creative Arts Company’s you definitely feel a part of the excitement around you with so much to see and take part in.