Pupils 'beam in' to theatre experience

Kavanagh College pupil and theatre ambassador Erin Dungey (17) helps the Backstage Pass project...
Kavanagh College pupil and theatre ambassador Erin Dungey (17) helps the Backstage Pass project by filming actor Claire Chitham at the Fortune Theatre yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

A digital backstage pass to allow Dunedin pupils to "beam in'' remotely was used for the first time yesterday to watch an actor and director rehearse at the Fortune Theatre.

Theatre education liaison Shannon Colbert said a new theatre project called Backstage Pass was being trialled as cast and crew prepared for the upcoming play Grounded.

Theatre spokeswoman Lucy Summers said when the project was rolled out, the digital technology would allow secondary schools in Otago, Southland and Timaru to "beam in'' and observe theatre professionals at work, and talk to them as they worked on the production period.

The trial yesterday included pupils from drama classes at Kavanagh College and John McGlashan watching Grounded actor Claire Chitham and director Jonathon Hendry at work.

"We want to give them a richer experience than just coming to see a show.''

Theatre ambassadors, pupils from Kavanagh College, helped film the rehearsal with a laptop and a tablet.

All of the pupils "loved it'', Ms Colbert said.

"They loved getting that backstage view.''

The project was born from feedback from schools about the cost of transportation to bring pupils to the theatre being a barrier to participation and the education opportunities on offer. The project would allow the pupils to learn remotely.

The trial would continue with the two drama classes next Tuesday, by filming a theatre crew at work on tasks including projection, lighting and sound.

"We want to give them a look at all the different elements that go into getting a play up and running.''

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