BA (Hons) Stage Management student Connor Dickens spoke to us about his industry placement experience and explains how it could help him in the future.
Where did you complete your work placement?
I completed two placements at Walk the Plank and Birmingham Hippodrome.
Did you enjoy your placement?
I was nervous about my placement with Walk the Plank, an inventive outdoor theatre company first started on a converted Norwegian ferry, as I had to relocate to Manchester for a week, then to Newcastle for another week. However my time with this unique organisation was brilliant. I had the opportunity to do some incredible things, including help stage manage a show for 15,000 people – a New Year’s Eve Carnival on the snowy fields of Town Moore in Newcastle.
What kind of things did you get involved with on your placements?
During my time located in Manchester with Walk the Plank I built a 15m x 20m bonfire structure of a wolf skull. It was a great learning curve for me and gave me the opportunity to apply the experience I had gained within the set building department and use my creative talents. I had access to all of the equipment within the workshop there, and the staff were helpful and incredible people, they were lovely and a huge team to work with. I worked with pyro artists, fireworks, lighting, sound, and all sorts of performers ranging from community acts to professional stilt walkers, aerialists, and many more. I was Stage Manager on the show, as well as building the set, which allowed me to see it from planning stage with the designers, through to seeing it lit up and burn down with fireworks and performances going on at the same time. The culmination of all that hard work was an emotional moment, and I am so proud of the project. I’ll cherish the experience for the rest of my career in stage management.
My second placement took place at the Birmingham Hippodrome for four weeks. For this placement I was the Stage Manager of the Chinese New Year Festival 2018 taking place in the China Town area of Birmingham; I managed the main stage during the festival. There were over 20,000 people there throughout the day so it was excellent experience working on another large audience event. I worked with both professional and community acts on the day, ranging from dancers, singers, contortionists, fire eaters, and many more. I worked with two hosts on the festival that I got on really well with, and formed a great relationship with them. My overall experience with the Hippodrome was not quite as exciting as it was with Walk the Plank, however both placements were equally rewarding and will benefit my future career.