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Stage Management presents…Until Proven Guilty

Each year, RBC’s third year Stage Management students stage an immersive theatre project, the aim being that the audience members are invited to become part of the theatrical experience.

Lucy Gosden
Stage Management BA (Hons)

This year the students presented ‘Until Proven Guilty’ – an immersive challenge which took place in the disused jail Steelhouse Lane Lock Up in central Birmingham, originally opened in 1933 and closed in 2017. The event was produced by Tagline Theatre, a theatre company created and comprised of current third year Stage Management students, with myself as Project Manager. Each cohort of students is presented with a budget, a brief and a time frame to put on a new and exciting piece of theatre. One important rule being that the experience must respond directly to the current or previous use of a space.

The development of the project began in September 2018, starting with brainstorming and initial ideas, from which we chose one to build on. The finished experience, which took place 1-4 May 2019, was very different to the original idea pitched, but it was great to see it develop over the nine months we worked on it.

During the experience audience members became one of six suspects in a murder investigation of a local nurse. They then had to find clues and evidence to figure out which of them was guilty. Having only six audience members per show meant we could provide the highest production quality possible, and create a unique atmosphere for those involved. Every show was different, and so each group had a one-of-a-kind experience, which made it even more enjoyable for us as a company.

We faced many challenges along the way – transforming a former jail into a performance space wasn’t easy. We wanted it to be theatrical, but also wanted the audience to have an authentic experience of being in a real jail cell, and we put a lot of thought into how to effectively achieve this. We also needed to protect the venue, as it is soon to become the new West Midlands Police Museum.

We had a fabulous response from all of our audiences, with a 91% attendance rate. The team put in so much time, effort and commitment to make the experience the best it could be, and we are so proud of what we created. Thank you so much to everyone that supported us along the way.

Follow Tagline Theatre on social media for a chance to get exclusive news from next year’s team.

That’s all for now, Tagline Team 2018/19 signing off!

Find out more about our BA (Hons) Stage Management course