When I was asked to do a blog about my experience working on this Production, my gut reaction was why would someone be interested in what the Production Stage Manager has to say? We are normally the ones in the dark shadows, there to work and not make a noise. We are the ones that take everything in and sort the chaos to a ‘structured’ understanding for the entire Production team.
My name is Christopher Silvester, the Production Stage Manager for Chicken Shop for Epsilon Productions. I have been on board since the beginning of this amazing season, working with both shows including Crystal Springs.
This has been my first season with Epsilon Productions and Park Theatre and I must say it’s one of the best teams that I have worked with in a long time. Completely crazy and more than welcoming. I was recommended by Sherry, our Lighting Designer, with whom I had worked with at Half Moon Theatre teaching children between the ages of seven and thirteen, the industry of Lighting. I was approached during my current season at Opera Holland Park to oversee the whole project and then Stage Manage Chicken Shop. For the first show we had to find someone that we could trust. I called on my colleague and friend Peter Lambert and this completed the team, Angela Bull (Producer), Jemma Gross (Director), Sherry Coenen (Lighting Designer), Mike Lees (Crystal Spring Designer), Flo Hazard (Chicken Shop Designer), Peter Lambert (Production Stage Manager Crystal Springs), Charlotte Marrigott (Assistant Director) and myself.
Crystal Springs was the first production of the mini season at Park Theatre. Based on the use of Cyber-bulling through social media platforms, the designer Mike Lees produced a set design that needed to be sleek visually and in its construction. As the set was to move about the space by the actors it needed to be in the rehearsal room as early as possible. Using the plans that Mike had produced we created the set which needed to be robust but lightweight. In true Stage Management tradition, we tried to save money where we could and having completed much of it ahead of schedule realised we could transport some of it via tube. This was an interesting experience getting from High Street Kensington to King Cross. We sure did get some weird casino online looks on the train!
As soon as the Press night was finished on Crystal springs the following Monday, Chicken Shop Rehearsals began. Angela, Jemma, Sherry, myself and Charlotte, left Pete and his wonderful cast and jumped onto the Chicken Shop Production Wagon, where rehearsals started at National Youth Theatre. Chicken Shop is about a boy struggling with his sexuality and in a desperate attempt to prove his masculinity enters a world where he gets far more than he bargained for.
Florence Hazard’s design was an outstanding concept that blew both me and Jemma away. It was something of pure beauty with simple lines and clear differential spaces for each character. As soon as we received a ground plan, I produced a full mark-out of the space in the rehearsal room. I started officially on the last week of the rehearsals, where I came in and saw a magnificent piece of performance from our amazing cast; Lucy Roslyn (luminta), Millie Reeves (Katie), Angela Bull (Hillary), Jesse Rutherford (Hendrix) and John Last (Leko). From seeing the first scene I had the gut feeling that this would be a very powerful show.
As we continued through the rehearsal process, I offered my services to Jemma to do the Sound design, so working together we produced a score for Chicken Shop. We used artists that we felt the character Hendrix would have been brought up around and would listen to including Foals and Jimi Hendrix. Using my knowledge in sound design and sound engineering, I created some sound scapes to accompany the darker moments in the script and to give life to the world outside the room of the character Luminita.
Working as the Production Stage Manager over the season has been challenging but laughter has brought chaos to calm and of course G T’s have gone down like a storm. Assisting them bring these two performances to Park Theatre has helped me learn how I am as a person and as a side note, how I can use Social Media. Thanks to them both, I am now an avid Tweeter! Throughout the rehearsal Process through to opening night, as a creative & Production team, we have bonded extremely well. Everyone has merged together breaking the conventional boundaries of cast and crew, which is normally found in most productions. This has resulted in having a ‘family’ company where everyone looks after everyone. I felt accepted into the Epsilon family from the start, being welcomed with open arms by both Jemma and Angela. Given the opportunity I would happily work with them again.