Shooting the National Youth Theatre

So, this time last week was the National Youth Theatre two day shoot-a-thon at Park Hill in Sheffield, all thanks to IdeasTap. I applied and along with 4 others, got to meet up with Helen Maybanks and spend two days running round Park Hill with 250 NYT members and crew! The other winners were Jeni, Jamie, Mike and Alex. I say winners with a little sarcasm, I’d rather say ‘successful applicants’, because I don’t think you can ‘win’ two days unpaid work, even if it is for an awesome company and great fun. It’s a bit like when people say they ‘won’ something on ebay.

Before I go completely ramble crazy, here are my selection of photos.

Day 1 – 1pm to 9pm

As usual, I arrived unfashionably early. An hour early. That’s just the kind of chump I am. I found the NYT crew (there’s lots of them and they’re quite a noisy bunch!) and sat and watched the technical run through until it was almost 1pm and time to find the other photographers. Just to give anyone who’s interested a sense of scale, there are about 250 performer, then you’ve got crew, then all the IdeasTap people like me loitering around. We’re not cramped. The site is HUGE. The performance runs from one end of Park Hill, through a building site, then out the other end. I once directed a play at school and almost went mad with the stress of getting everyone to do what they were meant to. This amount of stuff going on was blowing my tiny mind. While trying not to get too distracted by how exciting and interesting everything was, I was meant to be shooting. As per usual I pulled my “taking photos of everything I can possibly think of that anyone might want ever” rather than thinking “what are these photos actually for” (hindsight is 20:20) meant I had photos of empty hallways, decor, people organising things. These are not photos anyone wants to see. In the evening it was a full technical/dress rehearsal with an invited audience. It was really great to see everyone all dressed up and in character from the off. I was having flashbacks to drama lessonsin school and grinning like a mad person. All the audience seemed to have the reaction of bewilderment then amusement. The crazy people in the stairwells on the balconies were suitably disturbing. The large pieces of Choreography were dramatic. All in all a fantastic show! The bad part was that I was there to photograph it and it was dark as hell. Every time I have to put the iso up to anywhere ear 2000 on my D300s, I lament that it’s not a D700. Still, some of the photos in the dark are not terrible, as long as you don’t look too close. I’ve still no idea what details to share on here or what anyone might want to know. So I’m leaving day 1 there.

Day 2 – 11am to 5pm

Meeting at the Novotel to discuss what photos to send to the NYT publicist. I had never realised that I was confident talking about the photos of people on my course at uni, and not just anyone’s. I guess I was more worried about saying something that anyone might either disagree with or take offence to. It’s not something I’d given any thought to since leaving uni, but sat around a table with a bunch of lovely people I’d met the day before, I couldn’t bring myself to criticise anything. Focusing on the positive isn’t actually all that constructive. What’s worse is even now I’m fairly sure that I’d feel the same if the situation arose again. It’s not like at uni when I would be harsh in a crit session with Level 4 students. The need it. Somebody has to be the bad guy, and I thought it was better if it was me than the tutor. My tutor had been the bad guy, and it doesn’t make them very approachable when you’re 18 and you think they think you’re rubbish. I digress. Back to the actual subject. After choosing and sending off 10 shots to the publicist, we all grabbed a sarnie then headed to Park Hill to shoot more of general rehearsals. It was nice to get a second chance in daylight, when you’ve got a better idea of what’s happening and the light isn’t so variable! Although it was very hot and sunny, and direct sunlight is the enemy. Damn you high contrast shadows!

I think that’s all I have to say, other than what a disgustingly talented bunch the National Youth Theatre are and how lovely it was to meet everyone I met. Thank you everyone for the amazing couple of days!

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