If you've seen a Gecko show, you might've noticed that breath and language are deployed as vital tools for emotional and physical expression. So why is are they such a crucial part of Gecko's work? In these new videos exclusive to our YouTube channel, Amit explains all..
In May 2019, we welcomed Bethany into the Gecko offices for a work placement. Here is her week, in her own words…
I arrived in Ipswich on Tuesday 27th of May after an hour-long journey from home (Essex). I was greeted by Hugh and Sarah, a lovely couple I was staying with during my placement, who live a fifteen-minute walk away from the Gecko Office- ideal!
I’m currently in my second year at Falmouth University studying ‘Theatre and Performance’ (BA Hons) and hope to build my own theatre company in my third year. This placement has helped me better understand the mechanics and administrative tasks that running a theatre company requires, and therefore, could not have come at a better time for me!
Before arriving at Gecko, I was filled with a mixture of nerves and excitement but was immediately put at ease by the friendly and welcoming staff at Gecko. I was given a tour of the office, a cup of tea and was introduced to everyone. I spent my week with Manwah (Mani) Siu, Administration and Digital Marketing Officer, Steve Allman- Head of Operations and Development and Pippa Fox- Projects and Participation Manager.
During my placement, I was given a variety of tasks such as reading over Gecko’s marketing pack for ‘The Wedding’, updating Gecko’s local school spreadsheet, attending a Marketing Meeting with Mani at Ipswich Town Hall, providing feedback on Gecko’s website, promotional videos and more. I felt like I was given genuine responsibility as a co-worker in the office and was able to ask any questions I liked.
This summer some of my course mates and I have formed the theatre company ‘Solo Theatre’ and are performing our show ‘Fragments’ as part of the Camden Fringe Festival (2019) and the Exeter Fringe Festival (2019). This placement was incredibly useful for gaining advice surrounding the administration tasks for taking performances touring to different venues. I had opportunities to talk to each staff member one to one to find out what their role is like and ask for specific information that will help my future career and upcoming festival projects. Pippa helped me explore Gecko’s SharePoint- this was incredibly useful to see how all their masses of documents and information is orgainsed. Mani provided me with really helpful advice on Solo Theatre’s social media accounts and marketing whilst Steve showed me spreadsheet examples on Excel and taught me how to operate a spreadsheet for my festival projects!
On my third day, (which was a sunny one), Amit Lahav dropped into the office, we sat outside, and I was able to ask questions surrounding the formation of Gecko, his artistic vision and if he had any advice for young theatre makers over a cup of tea. I felt very lucky to have had this opportunity and was left feeling inspired.
To end my Gecko experience, I took a trip with Steve and Pippa down to where Gecko’s new building is likely to be situated and was able to have a look at some of Gecko’s prop store in Ipswich- exciting! Before having some cake, and yes- more tea, to say goodbye.
This placement has been everything I hoped for and more- would definitely recommend!
In February 2019, we welcome Rohan into the Gecko office for a work placement. Here is his week, in his own words, plus his review of The Time of Your Life (thanks Rohan!)
I’m writing this while perched on a red yoga ball which, in the midst of the Gecko office, is an apt visual cue for what it’s like to be working with the company. As a final year student at UEA, I’ve been commuting to Ipswich all this week to shadow the team. This naturally created a couple of problems (I haven’t had to wake up this early since my A-Levels), but it’s all been well worth the journey!
My first day was spent learning the ins and outs of Gecko, chatting with the general manager Joff about his experiences with the company and their (exciting) future plans. Due to Institute being on tour in Poland, the office was a bit emptier than usual but from the moment I walked through the door I felt really welcomed and inspired to learn as much as I could throughout the week.
I mainly spent my Tuesday in the company of Mani, interrogating him (but in a fun way) about his role as the company’s administrator before helping prepare for the upcoming performances at the Bristol Old Vic through contacting local schools about Institute. I finished the day by looking through the sales reports of their recent productions which opened my eyes to the networking that happens between professional theatres in the industry.
On Wednesday I was able to further shadow Mani as he worked on some marketing materials for Missing’s upcoming performances at the Oxford Playhouse. We also walked into Ipswich to see the potential site for Gecko’s new creative space, which was pretty exciting! Mani told me all about the company’s hopes for expansion. I was also able to watch The Time of Your Life, Gecko’s first made-for-TV production. I loved the incredible choreography and surrealist physicality of the piece and was left with a real desire to think more about the themes that Gecko explores.
During my penultimate day it was just Pippa and I in the office, so I took the opportunity to quiz her on all things related to education and production. Like the rest of the team, she was really open about her approach to working at Gecko and set me some really useful tasks to get me thinking about theatre producing (such as creating budgets etc.)
My final day was a quiet conclusion to the week, which continued to teach me that every day is different at Gecko. Due to some urgent company business, I was left to my own devices throughout the morning, of which I took advantage by watching The Overcoat on YouTube. One of Gecko’s older shows, I was very taken by the visuals and dystopian design. Though I was familiar with Gecko’s work before I began my placement here, I’ve been fully converted into an avid supporter over the last week and can’t wait to see more of their shows! To finish off my time here, Joff took me over to the prop store – giving me a glimpse into how much cool stuff the company has. I’ve had a brilliant week here and it’s been really insightful to observe a professional theatre company at work. If you’re interested in working in the arts, especially behind the scenes, then I’d highly recommend applying to pursue opportunities with Gecko.
The Time of Your Life
As soon as I finished watching The Time of Your Life for the first time, I started rewatching from the beginning to try and understand it all. Listening to Pippa and Mani talk about it beforehand, I loved and understood how much effort had been put into creating a televisual piece of Gecko theatre. The subtle message endorsing human connection caught me off guard and I was not expecting the last ten minutes. I remember looking at the time after the long one-camera scene (having assumed that was going to be the conclusion of the piece) and being really surprised that the story had another ten minutes to go.
I took note of the way Amit and the ensemble used breath throughout the scenes as well as the general flow of action which took the viewer from realism to surrealism without any jarring jolts. It reminded me of films like Arrival and The Truman Show but the live, one-take element brought something fresh alongside the incredible choreography and physicality that fully realised the thought-provoking story. At the end of the special, I was left with a real desire to think more about the themes Gecko were exploring.
In October 2018, we invited Jemima to a work placement at the Gecko office. She kept a diary of what she got up to…
Day One: A day to reflect
Where do I start? I am currently sitting in the office, typing to you (the person that is currently reading this). Anyways I digress, waking up this morning my stomach felt gritty, there was a mixture of nerves and excitement. I hadn’t been for a weeks work experience since my GCSE’s, so this was all new. I must say the moment I stepped into Gecko’s office I was met by nothing but kindness and a real willing to get to know me (as a person). The day started with a chat with General Manager Joff, we talked about our past, the present and future ambitions. We spoke of the difficulties we have faced in the arts and our career influences. It was very eye opening.
Okay, a bit of background – I have just finished my masters and I am going to be honest, this is a transitional period. I have absolutely no idea what my next plan is. For someone who is constantly planning and looking forward this has been a bit of an internal struggle. Am I taking a step back if I move back in with my parents? I don’t have a plan but I need some time to think? Or do I? Perhaps most importantly where do I start?
In fact it wasn’t until today’s conversations with Joff, Mani and Pippa that I had the chance to start understanding the positive things that can come from taking time to stop and think. That perhaps I should see it as a chance to breathe. Just like Gecko who use breath in practice, perhaps I should use it more in day-to-day life.
One thing is clear and that is that everyone I have met at the office today has a genuine care and passion for this theatre company. Above everything, there is a genuine care for each other – it is refreshing, and eye opening. * large corporations take note: you can learn a lot from Gecko, just as I am learning.
I will now draw my ramblings to a close, as it is now the end of day one. Today has been a chance to reflect on myself. That is not something I do often, in fact I am sure many of you would agree that in such a fast-paced world, it is rare to reflect. I look forward to tomorrow – this is a good feeling.
Day Two – Teatime
It is now day two at the Gecko office. It started as always COFFEEEEEEEEE and lots of tea. I was extremely impressed by the amount of options to choose from. Naturally, I went for Lady Grey I would argue it is by far the best (pause for debate).
I then shadowed Project and Participant Manager Pippa, who was kind enough to share with me the many aspects of her work (from education to invoices to finances to arranging trips for the cast and many more) – it is a very varied role, which requires a lot of organisation. I managed to complete my first invoice, which for someone who isn’t so keen on numbers made me realise that I was actually quite capable. It is these skills that I wish I had been taught at school. Real ‘adult’ skills – I hadn’t a clue about invoices before this week, so I thank Pippa and Mani for taking the time to share that skill with me. I have a feeling it is going to come in useful – it is, after all, a start.
We then went on to have a company meeting. Here we discussed exciting new developments for the website and new performance collaborations and opportunities. It is inspiring to see how expansive Gecko is, with still more ideas to reach new communities. We discussed our relationships with Mind the Gap and Suffolk Mind. For me, Gecko is about developing long lasting relationships and opening a dialogue… (I placed the ellipses so you could respond – see what I did there).
Day Three – The future
“So what will we put in room 101 today?” (Gecko Offices, 2018)
This morning I woke up a little early to explore Ipswich town centre, after making my way through the little cobbled side streets I wandered up to the Gecko offices. It is a very beautiful building positioned next to the park. It feels green and light, this is a nice change from the smoky streets of London that I have become so used to.
I began my morning referencing contacts and putting them onto a file or sort of email register. Gecko has such an extensive list of contacts it seemed like a never-ending task, but after the first couple I found I got into the swing of it. It was eye-opening to find out just how global Gecko has become. It is exciting and gets my mind ticking about the future.
A scary concept for someone like me, who isn’t quite sure of what is going to happen next. I am still learning and trying to figure this world out. I was therefore pleased to learn in a meeting that despite Gecko being a prestigious company that they would still call themselves fairly new, founded in 2001 by Artistic Director Amit Lahav, they are still learning about the trajectory of the company – it’s all building blocks and new discoveries.
In the afternoon I sat in on a meeting, between Joff and one of the company’s board members Jeanette Siddall. Together we had a very in depth discussion about the current climate of theatre and the notion of restrictions. To round off today’s post here is a fun analogy for you (as always it is up for debate) that came up in our discussion:
Companies are often like traffic.
If all responsibility is given to the traffic light we may only be focussed on getting through before it turns red (hence we may speed up/drive more erratically). Perhaps by taking away the traffic light and implementing a zebra crossing, the responsibility of driving safely is taken from the red light and given to the driver. As a result we may have safer more efficient roads. This is similar in some companies – by being given more responsibilities, we may take more pride in our work, as a result more care is taken.
I don’t know if this is true – but it is food for thought. I leave today thinking about my life in relation to this analogy – it is conceptual, but I think it’s making sense. Anyways it’s late – Good night!
Day Four – Finding my groove
I am back in the office (I am rather enjoying this routine) and everyone is getting on with individual tasks. I feel as though my confidence is growing, I am currently reviewing some educational resource packs for Pippa. One thing I have found this week is that everyone has asked me for my opinion on different things – I have been made to feel that I can speak up and contribute in discussions. Seeing as this is a place where students also have work experience, it was promising to know that their voice would be valued and they would be encouraged to contribute. It’s something so important for young people in the arts; to feel that their voice is being heard. I say ‘their’ but I guess I am included in that as well, I am still very new despite studying and performing prior to this week.
Before lunch, Mani and I went into town to pick up some flowers and chocolate for the launch of Spill Festival,‘an international festival of contemporary arts and activism’ in Ipswich. I feel I am starting to know my way around, and it is good to see such a wide variety of arts and culture in and around the town.
After tackling the microwave (thanks Mani for your help) I have now been given some time to work on this blog – it is another moment of reflection (I know I sound like a broken record but it really has been so useful, so please bear with me).
Next I observed Mani as he created the banner for The Wedding to be sent out at the bottom of emails. Gecko will be presenting The Wedding at the Barbican as part of the London International Mime Festival with dates running from 24th to 26th of January 19’. It was interesting to watch the amount of work that goes into making a banner and after a few of discussions about colour and sizing – we were pleased with the end result.
After finishing my working day I headed to the waterfront where I got to watch the opening ceremony for Spill Festival. Specifically, The Clarion Call where the ‘voices of women and girls call to the setting sun’ I will add a link below. I must say it was beautiful. It was so great to see such a range of arts and culture in and around Ipswich. Everyone seemed so supportive of one another with a real desire to push the arts in local communities. GO IPSWICH! What a great end to the day.
Spill Festival/Clarion Call: https://spillfestival.com/show/clarion-‐call/
Day Five – Rounding off
Good Morning from the Gecko office and I am sad to say it is my last day with the team – tomorrow I will be heading on the train for SEVEN HOURS back to Cornwall. It’s okay, I have bought a new book and some snacks, so I think it will be rather pleasant.
Yesterday Executive Producer Roz gave me some background information on Gecko’s past, present and future plans with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and I was surprised to find that there is an awful lot of strategic planning and questioning before taking a show up there (especially when a show is already so well known). I always assumed it was the other way around – instead it is about thinking long term. Where are the performers going to be? How much will it cost? Is this the right time? etc. It was a very valuable and productive conversation and got me thinking about the shows I saw whilst I was there in 2016. *Side note to myself: Jemima go there again next year even if you’re out of pocket – it will be good for you.
This morning is a bit of a catch up session – it is just Joff, Woody (the dog) and myself in the office today. I am spending the morning doing the final edits to this blog, and this afternoon I will carry on with an ongoing task (collating and researching contacts for Gecko). It is a good day way to round of the week and feels like a moment to soak in everything I have learnt.
I am now going to do a cheesy THINGS I WILL TAKE AWAY from my week with Gecko! (Feel free to get a coffee or go to the loo at this point).
Working in an office is about both individual and collaborative tasks – it is important to lean on each other for support.
There are a number of interesting roles within a theatre company – you don’t just have to be on stage to be a vital cog in the mechanism.
Traffic Lights are a great analogy.
If you are worried about moving to a new town to start a job, have confidence in yourself – it might be scary at first, but you will find your bearings quite quickly.
Gecko has some fantastic shows currently touring globally so go and see them if you
Take note of Pippa’s great email system – it is the best thing ever.
Speak up if you don’t know or are confused – we are all still learning and it would be madness if we all knew everything already (and very boring).
The world is a better place to be when we all ‘chip in’.
Don’t forget to have fun and play ‘Room 101’.
As I round off my final day at Gecko I would just like to say a massive thank you to the whole team. You have made me feel so welcome and my confidence has grown massively.
Good luck with the rest of the Gecko year and the start of 2019!
After a hefty 6 hour journey from Exeter to Ipswich, I was warmly welcomed by my lovely host Maggi and the magnificent Milly (her dog), who I stayed with during my time at the Gecko Office – highly recommend her place!
I had just finished my Drama degree at the University of Exeter, and a placement at the Gecko office was the ideal way to help transfer into the professional world of theatre.
My week started off with learning about the different members of the Gecko Office: they shared their array of career paths and the work they do for Gecko. I also had the opportunity to learn about the exciting plans Gecko have for the future in their business plan. This included how they hope to improve further as a company and expand various projects in Ipswich, the UK and internationally. What stood out for me was the ethos of Gecko as a company, which filters into how they support staff, artists, collaborators and their ambitions.
I shadowed both Mani and Pippa engaging with the work they do within the company. Mani guided me through outlets Gecko are using to build their online presence. We looked through the Gecko’s website to see how it could improve and be more accessible. However, it was also about maintaining Gecko’s unique voice throughout. I understood how to incorporate this voice when Mani and I wrote a Facebook post and tweets together for Gecko’s social media pages.
Mani and I created interview questions with Joff about how he was settling into his new position as General Manager of Gecko. I edited this and designed the blog post, which we tweeted out later that day. This also helped me learn about web design, and I found an unexpected meticulous side to me!
When shadowing Pippa, I attended a meeting with her to discuss Gecko’s process and outreach work with an Executive Producer from a Bombay Drama School. Gecko do a lot of work for schools and colleges, and Pippa needed some more information about various school and college syllabuses. So I did some research on what exam boards in the UK and the International Baccalaureate have Gecko named as an exemplary company. This gave a better idea of which exam boards use Gecko and a general idea of all the structures for different exam specifications for Drama, Dance and Performing Arts. This will hopefully help with the future work Gecko do in their education projects.
On my final day, I sorted through the office’s store room, removing props to transfer to storage. I filed all the archival pieces from previous shows and gave the paperwork a re-jiggle. When dropping off the Gecko items, I got a tour of the vast New Wolsey theatre storage space which included seeing a huge elephant puppet being built from willow, which was beautiful! While driving around Ipswich, Joff shared more about the potential spaces Gecko may move into, which was so exciting to hear about the process and the possible outcomes from Gecko having a space of their own.
My final job was to decorate the office! Using loads of Gecko posters, I pinned them all up to try and make the Gecko Office a bit more personal to the company.
I’ve had a wonderful time in the Gecko Office and the placement came at a pivotal time in my career after finishing university. Having just been offered a job the week after, I shall be taking all I learnt about how to successfully run a theatre company and to navigate the professional arts sector.
I headed down to Ipswich on a brisk February morning, not sure quite what to expect at the end of a very, very, (very, very, very) long journey from The North – only to find a lovely house to stay in – complete with ADORABLE dog, and an office full of wonderful people to meet.
My first day at Gecko was a chance to get settled in the new offices, (that were new not just to me – but to the whole team) and get to know the people working behind the scenes on the day to day running of the Gecko company too. I spent an interesting morning with Joff and Mani finding out a little of what had led them to their career in the arts, as well as spending a lot of time talking about art, theatre and writing in general, and of course about Gecko itself! I was encouraged to ask questions and to learn from the bank of experience each member of the team had and was hugely inspired and encouraged by hearing such varied and different creative stories. Later in the day, I was introduced to my true challenge of the week – organising and taking inventory of what had become a little bit of an unofficial store room within the offices, with a view to making the space more suitable for human habitation at some point in the future! The job was perfect for me, as a keen organiser and spreadsheet formatter!
As the week went on, I continued with my store room reshuffle (something I got very into), as well as spending some time learning about the importance of social media and engaging with a wider audience on various platforms – even being able to lend some insight into the world of YouTube as we considered how the company’s channel could be developed to bring in a larger online viewership. We also spent a surprisingly long time crafting a Valentines Instagram post – something I was amazed was so difficult to get right, as a person who will openly admit to “Instagramming” way too much!
I spent a day sorting through the incredible (and expansive) collection of set, costume and prop elements that Gecko holds in storage, implementing the same cataloguing system I had developed for the store room at the offices to help organise this much larger space. It proved to be a huge undertaking, and a truly unique one – never before have I had to take inventory of a varied selection of plastic dolls in the same stroke as a collection of assorted musical instruments! Nothing else could have given such an insight into the delightfully eclectic creative process behind every Gecko show.
Throughout the whole week, I was made to feel welcome and involved – even when it came down to things like contributing in meetings, working through problems in the office, even to giving an opinion on artworks brought in by a local artist (Amazing!). I was able to apply myself to the tasks I was given knowing I was genuinely contributing to the work of the office and so went home each evening feeling satisfied and accomplished, having had full day of interesting conversation and company.
I finished off a fabulous week by seeing Gecko’s newest show, The Wedding at my local theatre, the Playhouse in Liverpool. The show was sensational, and my experience getting to know a small number of the people who contributed to the creation of it made me feel even closer to the action and gave me a massive appreciation for what had gone on to bring something so complex to life.
What a satisfying way to end my Gecko experience – rounding off a week full of adventures I will definitely continue to draw upon as I continue to pursue my own career!
To find out more about how you can apply to work experience at the Gecko office, please visit our Work Experience page.
I first saw Gecko’s Institute two years and was captivated by the company’s effortless blend of dynamic physical comedy with aesthetically pleasing dance sequences. I went on to create a series of short pieces for my Drama and Performance Studies A Levels, inspired by their eclectic use of styles and techniques. Therefore, when I found out about the Work Experience opportunity, I could not wait to apply.
I was extremely apprehensive on my first day, but Belinda and Pippa were so friendly and made me feel very much at home. I began by having a scroll through the company website, familiarising myself with their work and core aims. This was extremely useful in giving me an excellent bank of knowledge for the tasks I would be given throughout the week.
My first task was to select appropriate quotes from participants and organisers of the many workshops and intensives Gecko runs throughout the year and compile them into a spreadsheet. Reading all the positive comments was lovely and really motivated me to take part in an Intensive in the future, because I have done workshops with Chris Evans in the past and found them invaluable as an aspiring actress and theatre maker.
I also got to update the company’s Wikipedia page, hence why intensely studying the website as my first task was so helpful. I particularly found reading into all the different shows the company has created really intriguing and uncovered that Gecko spend at least two years developing and show and are constantly reinventing their work to maintain its interest and accessibility.
Pippa likewise gave me numerous important research tasks such as planning Amit’s, the company’s Artist Director, journeys for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and looking at various British International Schools and hotels that the company could partner with, as just a few examples. I particularly enjoyed the tasks I was given, as I knew I was making a genuine contribution to the development of the company and they gave me a real insight into the administrative side of theatre. As someone who wants to ultimately have my own company and make my own work, this was invaluable at giving me an understanding of all areas of production such as budgeting and finance.
Before I arrived, Belinda, the company’s General Manager, asked me if there was anything in particular I wanted to learn more about during my time with the company. Based on what I said, I was lucky enough to spend time with both Belinda and Pippa, the Company Administrator, where they talked me through the company’s incredibly complex three year business plan, their Education Outreach and how the company goes about auditioning and hiring performers and their technical team. Belinda and Pippa were so helpful, answering all my many questions and helping me to understand this intricate area.
I completed my internship during the week of PULSE Festival, a theatre festival exclusive to Ipswich that showcases a variety of styles of theatre created by upcoming theatre makers in the run up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I went with Belinda to see Maestro by Kieran Hodgson at the New Wolsey Theatre, a comic biographic tale of his journey from an awkward teenager to a content young adult, set against the backdrop of classical music. Observing all the theatrical people Belinda knew, made me realise the importance of theatre contacts in creating your work and how much this can do for your art.
What I have cherished most from this experience, has been just being in the office. So many interesting theatre people would come and go in the office such as performers, people from the Arts Council, set designers and lighting designers and hearing all the passion and enthusiasm of the performing arts made me realise I do not want to work in any other area, but the theatre. I was particularly star struck, when Amit came into the office!
I have loved my time with Gecko and cannot thank the wonderful team enough for their patience, support and friendly, relaxed, tea-filled office. I cannot wait to see what Gecko gets up to in the near future!
I arrived at Gecko’s rehearsal room Monday morning to find the studio already abuzz with activity. The five performers assembled for this week’s R&D were clapping and stomping and swirling their way through the space. This would be a daily ritual. Every morning, before rehearsals had even begun they would spend an hour warming their bodies and focusing their minds for the work ahead. As the week progressed this sense of preparation and commitment never wavered. At every stage the performers threw themselves into each particular and often peculiar provocation —You’re a stockbroker in a high pressure world bartering for a better deal! Make a dance using this broom! Learn this song, this clapping pattern, a new language! — Each stimulus began to inform the next and slowly a narrative was being hinted at. The destination might be unknown, at least to me, but there was a sense that we were going somewhere.
Talking to Amit, Gecko’s Artistic Director, about his process, he explained that these creations were brush strokes. They were broad patches of colour that were used to fill the canvas and crucially unearth emotions and dynamics that would help shape the final work. He confessed that almost nothing from this week’s R&D would make it into the final show. I suppose that could sound nihilistic but it seems like a natural process. Gecko’s work is centred on the dramaturgy of the body. Unlike a writer who works by placing words in a certain order to create meaning Gecko use the physical language of gesture, rhythm and space. A string of moments come together, layering meaning to form an idea, a story, an experience. It’s no coincidence that their work has to be seen to be understood. That’s not to say that the rehearsal room was deathly silent. It was never quiet. Music, voice and percussion were constantly driving the action. But there is no script that could convey what is presented onstage. Any words that are spoken seem to be driven from a physical impulse and only help to add new colours to the stage.
As I reflect on my week with Gecko there a two things that stick with me. The first is the commitment and focus of the performers throughout rehearsals. Often, directors talk about creating a specific rehearsal room culture and Gecko have engendered a focus that is testament to the quality of their practice. The second is the playfulness and openness that goes into their work. By creating and playing simple games they find theatrical ways to explore specific situations. Rich, Associate Director, summed up his thoughts on this process by saying that “Gecko takes the mundane aspects of our lives and magnifies them to explore their absurdities and expose our humanity”. An office environment is quickly established and before long the improvised scenarios become underlying structures on which a scene can be played out. This continues to be refined but constantly returns to the central rules of the original game. As in real life we are all bound by the rulebook of our environment and traditions and nowhere does this seem more pertinent than in the concept of a wedding.
I’m very much looking forward to seeing how this week’s R&D develops and what elements, if any, survive into the final performance of The Wedding.
My week with Gecko took place in Manchester on their tour to HOME, after having seen Gecko’s performances before and being a big fan of their work I was excited to be able to spend a week fully immersed in their touring process.
The week started with a busy flurry of activity unloading lorries and piecing together the massive puzzle of a set during the get in. The production team were a friendly and open group who knew each other well and were very welcoming. It was a joy to watch and be part of transforming a bare stage into the mysterious world of Institute, and in such a short amount of time. It amazed me to see the production manager and technical manager sanding and grinding down parts of the drawers to fit the new set hours before the first show was due to start, and then to watch the show run seamlessly that evening. It’s goes as a testament to how experienced the team at Gecko are.
It was great to meet the producer at Gecko and understand the process of getting programmes and flyers ready for the tour, and to meet the front of house team from HOME. It was particularly interesting to learn that counsellors from the local mental health organisation, Manchester Self Help Services were going to be there at each show to offer support to the audience post show. This acted as a lovely transition to bring us into the workshop and post show discussions held over the next few days, and was particularly interesting to meet them and hear their thoughts after the shows.
As the week progressed I sat in on rehearsals with the cast, which was very generous, and gave me a sneak peek on how even in a show that has been running for over a year there is room for changes and perfecting moments. I was also able to watch the show every night, from back stage, from the auditorium and from the LX and sound booth-which has been a privilege and has given me a well-rounded knowledge of all aspects of how the show is run. Being able to sit down with the LX re-lighter and talk through more specialized questions I had, was a valuable addition to the week. My schedule as a whole was very generous and tailored giving me a jam-packed and really insightful week in touring a production from the get in to the get out, and everything in between.
From the cast and production team at Gecko to the staff at HOME I was welcomed with open arms and free to question anything I was curious about. It was a wonderful experience and I hope to take everything I learnt with me through my career and keep in touch!