Global Challenge: Melbourne Museum Internship – Robbie McDonald – Week 1

Global Challenge: Week 1 in Australia
48 hours, 4 airports, no sleep, countless trashy films, TRAVELLING DOES NOT GET TOUGHER THAN THIS. All just 24 hours after leaving Birmingham for the last time following my graduation ceremony. This was my epic journey from Manchester to Melbourne, via Paris and Guangzhou, all in time to get me to my museum internship at Melbourne Museum.

Air bnb

Air bnb that is graciously hosting my stay

Friends in Australia had warned me that winter in Melbourne can be tough weather-wise, but I foolishly decided to act under the pretense that I was moving to Bondi Beach and would be living the surfer dream. This did not happen. Winter is winter and Australian houses are not built for winter, so there is no central heating or double glazing, just lots of jumpers and blankets. But here’s to hoping that soon summer will be arriving in beautiful Melbs.

wedding cake

Neighbours wedding caked – housed in the Museum Victoria collection

The museum houses a vast collection of objects, stemming from natural history exhibits, to the cake used in the wedding of Scott and Charlene from Neighbours.

The variety of objects housed in the museum reflects the nature of Melbourne Museum’s role as the state collection: everything and anything that can be linked to the people of Victoria, they have a duty to collect and preserve.

exhibition melbourne

Royal exhibition building – adjacent to Melbourne Museum

For me, this internship (and only one week in to it), has shown me how Museums truly care about collections and the preservation of local, regional, and national histories.

The dedicated, and extremely friendly, museum staff have welcomed me and already I feel well equipped to go into the world of work with new skills and renewed passion.

outside melbourne museum

Outside view of Melbourne Museum

Working in a museum has confirmed for me that this is the career path I will pursue following this internship. Each of the curators of the museum has their own specialty, and crossover, collaborative works and projects are the norm here.The curators are allowed to pursue their own historical interest, whilst simultaneously being supported by other staff members which has led to the museum being regarded as the best in Melbourne.

balcony area

Balcony area on top of the museum

The internship has also taught me practical skills: writing narratives for collections online, object handling, drafting proposals for object acquisitions and finally the most important skill in a museum: knowing how to ask for money for repairs to historic objects.  

                                        By Robbie McDonald 

Global Challenge: The English Theatre Frankfurt – Jessica Thackray Week 3 – Tech Week

Week 3 – Tech Week

Since my last blog I have been attending regular rehearsals for Alice in Wonderland, alongside cueing Death and the Maiden in the evenings. Death and the Maiden finished its run on Saturday 11th July at 10pm and the Alice in Wonderland ‘get in’ started immediately after. The ‘get in’ involved the whole technical team removing the previous set, rigging new lights and preparing everything so we were ready to start the Alice technical rehearsals on Monday. Everyone was prepared that this was a very tight turnaround for a show, meaning that everyone had to be on-board, focussed and keep as best as possible to the schedule.

the eng theatre 5

To quickly reflect on the Alice in Wonderland rehearsals… it has been both interesting and enjoyable to sit in on these- one, because I absolutely love Lewis Carroll’s book and two, because a lot of the cast members were quite young so it was lovely to work with them on what was many of their first experiences onstage. One of the problems that we (the technical team) faced though was the regular changes to the blocking. Every rehearsal there were significant changes to the movements and script, which meant that the lighting designer, Johannes, found it quite difficult to design the lighting. This then impacted on Stage Management as I was unable to thoroughly prepare for the technical rehearsal. At University, we had a lighting plot session before the technical rehearsal to allow questions and rough plotting to be made into the desks and into the book. However, due to the problems and tight schedule we were unable to do this and I was also not given a provisional cue sheet to read and try to understand before the technical rehearsal. This made me feel a little more nervous and quite under-prepared, but Anna and Umberto told me how they have often been in situations similar or even worse. This did make me feel much better and although I was a little nervous, I was really excited to start the week. Admittedly, not everyone was as excited, due to it being a very tight schedule already and the technical rehearsals being usually the most stressful experience of the production.

My role within the technical rehearsal was conversing with the designers and the director and by doing so, ensure that the Director’s vision and concept was being created onstage. Whenever there was a problem with either one of the technical elements, or one of the actors needed clarification onstage, I had to call ‘hold there’, ensure a solution was sorted and then re-start the technical rehearsal. At times, many people were quite stressed but I ensured that I was always fair and calm as I knew that if I was to get stressed myself- then others would too.

the eng theatre 6

I really enjoyed my experience of the technical rehearsal and I am now looking forward to the dress rehearsal tomorrow and then the preview performance on Thursday. The preview involves local schools being invited to attend the show for a first viewing before opening night (Friday)!

By Jessica Thackray

Global Challenge: The English Theatre Frankfurt – Jessica Thackray Week 2

Week Two

Since my last blog on Friday, I have been exploring Frankfurt which has been nice as it allowed me to feel like a typical tourist and understand where I will be living a little bit more. This week also marked my first ‘proper’ week at work, which involved working mainly with Umberto (the English Theatre’s Deputy Stage Manager). On Tuesday, I was asked to come in ready for the ‘half hour call’ which in theatre terms is 35 minutes before the show begins… so 18:55. Naturally I turned up an hour early, but enjoyed introducing myself to my colleagues and helping out backstage with the legend of the theatre… Bob.

the eng theatre 4As I mentioned in my previous blog, last Friday (26th June), I enjoyed an evening socialising with friends from work during which we attended the Alt Oper festival. Here we enjoyed local German food and drink and listened to some of the local artists- one of which included a member of staff from the Theatre Box Office… Tunc! It was a really great atmosphere and the theatre staff were telling me that in Germany there is often a festival like this one every week- and it is usually free (even better!) Another first at the Alt Oper was trying the famous German apfelwein… It turns out it is actually cheaper to buy this than bottled water in Frankfurt due to it being untaxed. At first, I thought this was like drinking vinegar… but once I had added some Fanta, it wasn’t bad at all!

My role this week at work was to shadow Umberto for the first few days in his role of calling the show. In the theatre, the DSM (Deputy Stage Manager) is an important role as they are the person who cues for all the technical elements to occur. So for example, lighting doesn’t just magically happen on its own… but it is instructed to ‘GO’ at a specific moment (a moment that was chosen during the technical rehearsal). A Deputy Stage Manager is also responsible for creating ‘the book’ which has all of the blocking (actor’s movements and key actions onstage) in it and it also contains all of the cues. I enjoyed doing this during one of my University modules, therefore it was a really good experience to do this here as I was able to see the differences between our Drama department and a professional environment. Umberto and the team also told me to enjoy shadowing as by the end of the week I would be flying solo on calling ‘Death and the Maiden’. I was a little nervous by this at first as it was a professional production… with professional actors… led by a professional director, but I was also keen to do my best and hopefully not make too many mistakes! It was also important that I gained their trust as I have been appointed the next show’s (Alice in Wonderland) DSM.the eng theatre 3

Next week I am most looking forward to joining the English Theatre staff on their annual work outing at a local restaurant and beer garden called ‘Ginnheimer Wirtshaus’. I think it will be really nice to meet with everyone outside of work and whilst doing so, try some of the local foods (and drinks).

By Jessica Thackray xx