Last night was the BRIT Awards and the Radio 2 Folk Awards. Two massive events with millions of people interested and hundreds involved in making them happen. Not that I worked on either of these events but I heard Mark Radcliffe on the radio talking about being at the Royal Albert Hall (RAH) and the overwhelming feeling of being on the RAH stage. It is huge and you can’t fail to be aware of all of those amazing people who have been there before you and who will come after.
I worked there in my first proper job after leaving university. I had been through a hideous work placement with a theatre company (who shall remain nameless) straight after leaving York and it goes without saying that this has meant that I take work experience placements very seriously and I work hard to ensure that work placements with us are valuable and supportive. Anyway, I digress! Following this placement, I got a short term contract working with English National Ballet on their production of Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Albert Hall.
I worked in the production department and spent 4 months working with designers, makers, technicians, dancers, admin and artistic staff to play my part in making this fantastic show a reality. The reality for me was definitely on the practical side – I measured fabric, I created documents, I bought supplies and I re-discovered my confidence and ability after that very difficult experience previously. I became a valuable part of the team, someone who could get on and do things, and I had the joy of working with true professionals, experts in their fields, all of whom were working together to make that bigger picture real. There is something magical about being part of a production team and it wasn’t until Mark Radcliffe mentioned that feeling of awe and wonder at the scale of the RAH that I remembered truly how wonderful that first proper job was.
My work with English National Ballet on that contract meant that I was up until 3am on the night before the opening, with the rest of the team, gluing sequins to hundreds of tutus in the basement of the RAH. It was a brilliant atmosphere with all of us working for the same end goal. We got pizza, we chatted, we got on with the job and we built professional relationships that remain now. It was all part of recognising that we each have our role to play in making those amazing big projects (and organisations) happen and how productive those production teams were.
Just remembering that experience makes me smile. There are times when it feels like a different lifetime ago and then there are projects that I work on now where I have to remember that actually I am now the leader of that production team, making that project happen, and my focus as that leader must be in creating a similarly fondly-remembered experience for those I work with. Not always possible but a great objective!
Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky Events