Elizabeth Bradley - Oral Memories Transcript

Pomegranate Theatre Oral History

 

Margaret McCall – Interviewer

 

Elizabeth Bradley  – 6 August 2009 

Elizabeth has been a part-time worker at the Pomegranate in various roles and experiences and she is going to give us some of her memories of her time here.

 

Elizabeth

I first started work at the Pomegranate in 2002, I started in the coffee bar on Saturday morning, and I did that for about 2 years.  Whilst I did that I also did some lighting board work during the pantomimes when they were short staffed, which I really enjoyed.  It’s really fast paced during panto because you don’t get much rehearsal time for the lighting boards it’s all very last minute.  It was fun, you get to see the show and how they worked, and I got into it really.

I then started helping out backstage with the get-ins and get-outs and helping with dance schools at week-ends and from there I just got really keen and interested in it and progressed from there.

I started doing more for the lighting board, doing lighting for the shows and became more involved with the rigging of the lighting and setting them up and later went to study at West Nott’s College to do a technical course there.

Interviewer

Well that’s quite a few roles that you’ve had there, did you have any more roles that you’ve played?

Elizabeth

I’ve also worked in the box office on Saturday morning mainly, at busy periods.  I really enjoyed that but I prefer backstage.  My experiences have definitely helped me with my career getting the experience at a young age helped me to get on the course in Nottingham that I went on and from that I’ve been able to progress through teaching to be able to teach technical theatre as well so I’m still staying in theatre, although not actually working in a theatre but I really enjoy teaching others.

Interviewer

So you are passing it from one generation to the next.  Well that’s good, it’s good to keep the enthusiasm going for the next generation of people and it’s always good to see them responding isn’t it.

Elizabeth

I’ve found that a lot of people I teach don’t really know about backstage on the technical side but once you get into it they do really enjoy it and a lot have taken it up as a hobby and are really wanting to do it.  So it’s passed on.

Interviewer

So we need to keep live venues then, Elizabeth, so technical people can put their things into practice as it where for the audience out there in the auditorium.  Have you any experience that was a bit unnerving with it being live?

Elizabeth

One show I was doing the lighting for, the cast came up and show started and I thought everything was fine but then I noticed that a door on stage, and I realised that the main trip switch for the lights had failed so I had to work through the entire audience ***********  to flip the switch to come back again, which was very embarrassing.

Interviewer

So those were your few moments of fame.  If I can take you back, Elizabeth, to a comment that you made about your experience here helping you to go on to college, how old where you when you first came into the theatre and started going backstage and experiencing what happened there as against actually on the stage itself.

Elizabeth

I think I was about 11 or 12 when I first came backstage as my father works here.  I used to come in at weekends and help with the dance schools, that’s when I first started coming here and learning about things.

Interviewer

What a wonderful opportunity.

Elizabeth

Yes, fantastic.

Interviewer

So it gave you an insight into what dad was going.

Elizabeth

Yes, it was good to see how things worked.

Interviewer

So when he talked about how the stage sloped or the fire curtain or other specific things, you were picking up that technical knowledge as you were going along.

Elizabeth

Yes, definitely.  I still find that some people my age, that I work with, or socialise with, it’s like ******* or fairy lights ***************************.

Interviewer

That’s right.  The other thing that always amazes me is that in rehearsal you will have seen people rehearsing shows and you will have seen things that were in the script and then taken out and things that were never in there in the first place added to it.  Can you give an example of that?

Elizabeth

I think in one pantomime, as I think at the start of the rehearsal process they go by the script, but you see as it goes on throughout the show, mistakes that happen, they end up staying in the production.

Interviewer

Right, so no adlibbing really, just script version three.  Well, that’s quite interesting really.  You talked about lighting as well.  The one thing that fascinates me, who also used to work backstage for the school productions for about 15 or 17 years, was how the lighting can change the atmosphere of a setting and even the colour of the costumes and could you explain that a little bit to us.

Elizabeth

I think sometimes you don’t need a lot of set, you can set the mood by lighting and sometimes shows have a budget where you only have a black box.  ******************* light a picture on stage you can set a scene or mood of somewhere, you don’t necessarily need to use a lot of costumes to do that.

Interviewer

That’s interesting because I know that sets are very expensive so perhaps if you spend a little bit more on the lighting side you can cut back on the set that you have and it makes a difference.  When you look at a programme when you come to the theatre, you have a whole list of people who were responsible for this and that both sort of front of house and on the technical side, either lighting or sound like things you were involved with but also with costumes or staging, what would you say were important qualities wo work within theatre.

Elizabeth

I think the main thing is that you have to work as a team and share your skills amongst each other I found I learned a lot from people I’ve worked with for many years and I’ve managed to pass that on to other people that have started so it’s definitely a team job, you have to work together.

Interviewer

And what about skills, Jack-of-all-trades really?

Elizabeth

Yes, definitely.

Interviewer

So what you are saying is you have got to be adaptable.

Elizabeth

Yes, there were some occasions when I have come in thinking that I would be doing one job and then end up doing another as well.  One time *********************** and then because they were short staffed ********************** so you have to be ready to change.

Interviewer

You’ve never had to go on stage and fill in for an actor’s part have you?

Elizabeth

No.

Interviewer

Well, Elizabeth I would like to say a thank you very, very much on behalf of Chesterfield Theatre Friends for coming along today and giving your memories and insight as well into life at The Pomegranate Theatre and how you started off in one role, ie the daughter of a person who worked here, and then you’ve been paid professionally for your skills, so that you very much indeed for coming.