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.