As many of us know with the productions we know and love the performance is the tip of a huge iceberg, with so many people working hard backstage to make sure the sound is perfect, props are where they should be, costumes are ready and cast and crew are well fed – there are so many different backstage roles that sometimes don’t get shouted about.
With theatres closed, most of these people aren’t doing their jobs right now but many of them have refused to sit at home twiddling their thumbs! So many fantastic theatre industry professionals have picked up their tools and gone from stitching Shakespearean ruffs to sewing hospital scrubs; from crafting props to making face shields; from rigging up stage mics to sorting out radio communications for NHS staff.
We are so immensely proud of the people in our industry whose thoughts immediately turned to how they could help support frontline workers, so on a day when we’re getting ready to applaud all the hardworking and brave carers out there, we wanted to tell you a little about some of the people who are using their skills to help support them.
“Our Props Manager Nathan Rose is on Furlough but he asked if we would donate some of our materials so he could spend his time making face shields for local doctors surgeries and hospitals.
“He’s getting other donations through to use alongside ours and also uploaded instructions on how to make… hundreds will be made as a result!”
If you’re handy yourself, you can find Nathan’s instructions here!
Chichester Festival Theatre
“Since closing the CFT restaurants, our caterers Caper & Berry have been working up ways they can support the local community, including preparing hot food in the CFT kitchens to serve free from their hot food van to key workers at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.
“Chichester Festival Theatre is partnering with staff at Chichester College and has joined the Chichester Scrub Hub to help make much-needed scrubs for the NHS, helping GPs, Care Homes and others across the Chichester district.
“Our technical team have been printing the templates to distribute to the many costume makers who have offered to help. The first shipment of material arrived last week so delivery has now begun to frontline health workers. A Go Fund Me page has already raised £10,000 to purchase materials.
“CFT has also given over its 12 bed creative accommodation building to the local hospital, St Richards, for use by its doctors and nurses who for whatever reason are unable to go home overnight.”
Hull Truck Theatre
“Our Head of Wadrobe at Hull Truck Theatre, Sian Thomas, has been making drawstring bags and scrubs for local hospitals. Even roped in a couple of little helpers!”
Sian herself said:
“With all of the pressure on the NHS and its staff I felt I needed to do something to help. I decided the best thing to do was put my sewing skills to good use and make scrubs and laundry bags whilst on lockdown.”
“Our wardrobe team are part of the Helping Dress Medics group and are sewing scrubs at home.”
“ENO’s Costume Department have been making scrubs for our frontline workers – below is a photo of the St Mary’s Respiratory team wearing them. The ENO Costume department aim to make 500 pairs in 3 weeks and have been fundraising to buy supplies.
“Our Props team are also working on PPE equipment and we have also provided our supply of gloves and other protective clothing to our frontline workers.”
Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester
“Our brilliant wardrobe department at the Royal Exchange Theatre has joined the Help Dress Medics campaign. Below is a photo of one of our staff members Jennifer Adgey making her scrubs and her finished product ready for delivery.”
Nikki Meredith, Head of the Royal Exchange’s Wardrobe department said:
“Only a week earlier we had been making huge Victorian crinolines for our production of Rockets and Blue Lights and now its green scrubs.
“Everyone is working from a spare room or a living room table but everything they are making is to the standard required by the NHS. All the garments are made from approved materials with issued patterns.”