‘The Single Lady’ London run as told by the single lady doing the tech.

Charlotte Beech

How it started

Somewhere deep in the wonderful Flo Lunnon’s (cast, Queen Elizabeth I) camera roll there exists a very staged photo of me ‘passed out with excitement’ on the stage of the Assembly Rooms Theatre (ART) having just been told by Flo that a mysterious Lauren would like me to Tech direct her new musical. Being halfway through tech directing my first show (DST Freshers play) and that being ages away I then promptly forgot about it. Less than 4 months later there exists a photo of me on the floor, this time on the stage of the Drayton Arms theatre in Kensington, completely exhausted but very relieved having just finished the first programming for the lighting of the Single lady.

Off to London!

To say that doing a London show was always a bucket list item would be a total lie, it was something I had never even considered possible for me. I had done two shows at my Northern state comp but no tech at all and as a fresher I had only learnt practical theatre tech in April. Going to London with a show, in a time when anyone would be extremely lucky to be putting on a show anywhere, seemed near impossible. But on 31st July there I was on Durham station southbound platform in a group wearing matching rugby shirts with a lighting design script and a bag full of costumes to fix on the train. (It appeared that in my role as tech director I also become chief prop and costume fixer, a role I took very seriously.)

On the train making a wedding veil and programmes

The hard work begins

The scariest thing about tech is that by the time you’ve rocked up to the theatre your job begins, and everyone else’s hard work is already done. The nerves really did hit me while standing outside the theatre that morning that nine of the most talented people, who had put in months of work and months of tears were relying on me or there was no show. But the process was relatively seamless and 3 hours and 100+ cues later we had a lighting design. Roll on lunch and tech runs, finally finishing the interim music, then dinner at the venue, then the big moment. I am incredibly proud of the fact that I teched the show and managed to eat three meals that day, no mean feat for one techie teching a whole show, in a day – credit to the cast for buying me lunch and Lauren Brewer (Writer/Director) for keeping us all in brunch bars all day.

An emotional experience

I had to call the whole show via Facebook messenger due to a lack of coms but other than that opening night was something special for me, a perfect show and surprise flowers at the end from the cast. Shout out to Will Drake (Writer/Musical director, sat next to me as sound op) for missing the fact that I cried during the lighting cue climax in “Crowning Glory”, it was an emotional day. After a day spent maxing out our tube tickets tourist-ing and getting mentioned by the official Wagamama Instagram, then rolled on closing night. An equally emotional night and another absolutely stunning show from the cast, accompanied by the blissful feeling that nothing else can go wrong on your watch. Then came the post-show bubbly and THE BEST THANK YOU CARDS I HAVE EVER SEEN!

Post get out celebrations with the amazing thank you cards

An amazing team

In my opinion, it takes a special group to be cancelled in the most gut-wrenching of circumstances only to plan a trip to the capital, rehearse full time for a week and then live together in a hostel in London for three days. I’m quite possibly extremely biased but I think the ‘Single Lady’ experience would be the best advert for student theatre possible. I think about what I gained from the experience in a skills context, but I am much more grateful for the feeling of belonging and being a valued member of the extremely talented team that’s putting the show together. To quote Abby Lee Miller I can definitively say that I have “stood a little taller, spoken a little louder and learned the value of hard work” in all aspects of life because of my Single Lady experience. I am indebted to every single member of the cast and crew for just being wonderful talented humans and giving me this fantastic opportunity.

To any freshers considering joining DST “offstage” I’d say just jump straight in, no matter what experience you have- do it!! You may just end up in Kensington drinking bubbly you were gifted by an audience member, holding a Princess Di card surrounded by an amazing group of people.

Tourist-ing around London

It’s not over yet

However, the best bit about the Single lady journey is that it isn’t over yet. Although I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous to do my first show while doing lectures (2020 fresher problems) and trying to live up to the successes of the London run; I am so excited to be bringing ‘The Single Lady’ to Durham’s very own Assembly Rooms Theatre from 28th-30th October. But most importantly I’m looking forwards to getting the gang back together and getting “Horses and Carriages” stuck in my head once again. Come join us at ART, hopefully not see me, but see my tech in October and also leave with some banging tunes and powerful monologues stuck in your head. I’d love to see the back of your head from the tech box.

Read more in the blog The Single Lady: From Covid cancellations to a London musical!

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Charlotte Beech

Hello I am a second year (just) Natural Science student from Van Mildert college. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting involved in theatre tech with DST this year having come to Durham in 2020 with no experience. After being involved with several projects including Feather Theatre’s ‘1984’, Freshers Play, DULOG’s ‘The Last Five Years’ and DUCT’s ‘An evening of Classical theatre’, I finished the year with ‘The Single Lady’ London run and picked up 2 D’Oscar nominations and a Palatinate award nomination on the way.

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