My placement with Reading Repertory Theatre was a wonderful experience, a chance to understand what I had been learning in the classroom in a real world setting. The placement with the theatre company was offered to me and seemed the perfect accompaniment to my Shakespeare on Film module. The module dealt with the differences between Shakespeare’s works as performed on stage and when filmed so I jumped at the opportunity to undertake a placement that seemed so well suited. I spent a couple of days watching the early rehearsals of the production in the Spring term before returning to the company during the Easter break in order to witness the journey that had taken place for the play to be stage ready. The wonderful set design and the attention that had been paid to the costumes and props as well as the lighting and sound was perfect material for my placement report. I was able to watch rehearsals, run through lines with actors and, at times, input my opinion on certain aspects of the production.
During my time with the Reading Repertory Theatre I experienced first-hand the kind of decisions and adaptations that have to be made when successfully putting together a production. The wonderful cast and crew at the Reading Rep were welcoming and their combined talents and dedication as a company were perfectly showcased not only through the onstage production but behind the scenes through the promotion and the back stage elements of the play. I was able to witness their creativity while immersing myself in the theatrical world of rehearsals, costume and lighting choices and script learning, while keeping in the back of my mind the connections between the on stage production of Proof and Kenneth Branagh’s filmic version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
The placement also opened my eyes to the level of attention that is given to the arts in the local area, something I had not been aware of before. The rehearsal spaces the company use in Reading town centre, Jelly, are committed to local arts projects meaning that companies like the Reading Rep are able to provide high quality performances to the local community. The company use a space at Reading College to showcase their performances and the relatively small space means that the audience are close to the action and able to truly experience the play that they are seeing. The production of Proof I watched as part of my placement was reviewed very favourably by the local press, a testament to those whose hard work and dedication went into the production. As well as the academic elements of the module, it also taught me, through interaction with the director, assistants and cast, that I have a real passion for the theatre. I am attempting to further this interest with a summer internship at a local Reading theatre and would one day like to pursue a career in this arena. I would thoroughly recommend an academic placement to my fellow students as mine was an enjoyable and rewarding component of my degree.