Students from Chichester College are working with Chichester Festival Youth Theatre to help stage their Christmas show this year.
Sixteen production arts students are supporting the theatre’s production of Pinocchio, which runs until 2 January 2021, working across a variety of roles including assistant stage managers, prop makers, wardrobe assistants and radio mic runners.
Jack Goodland, a second year stage management student, is one of the ‘follow spot’ operators which means he is working in harnesses above the auditorium to highlight key characters or moments on stage.
For Jack and his fellow students, this marks a rare opportunity to get real, hands-on experience at a time when many theatres are suffering through enforced shutdowns due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “This opportunity means everything to me.
“In my opinion, the production shows that - with the right precautions and measures in place – theatres are among the safest places to work.
“As many of my colleagues have sadly lost jobs, it is a reminder of how fragile our industry is and how much we support we need.
“Awareness campaigns, such as ‘We Make Events’ and ‘Light It In Red’ have helped to showcase the dire situation the Arts are in and the support we have received from the public has been incredible.
“I hope we are helping to lead the way to a full scale return to all live events next year.”
Hannah-Lee Sargent, a first year costume design student, is one of the wardrobe assistants and this marks the first time she has worked in the theatre environment,
She said: “My role involves changing actors in and out of costumes, even mending anything that has broken during the performances.
“For someone such as myself, who has never worked in theatre, this is an amazing experience despite the circumstances that we are under during this time.
“For me, this rare opportunity means so much as it is something I would like to do as a job in the future.”
Sally Garner-Gibbons, Deputy Head of Learning for Performing Arts at Chichester College, added: “This is a really phenomenal opportunity for our students to work in a live theatre environment and put their learning into practice, supporting a fantastic show.
“Thank you to the team at Chichester Festival Youth Theatre for giving them this opportunity. There are so few theatres able to open, due to changing restrictions up and down the country, so this is a really rare chance and I’m delighted to see them all embracing it with both hands.
“I can’t tell you how much it means to us – and too all who work in this industry – to be able to put shows on and entertain the public after such a challenging year. I truly believe the Arts have never been so important.”
Pinocchio has been adapted by Anna Ledwich, with music by Tom Brady, and follows the original novel ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’ by Carlo Collodi.
It opened earlier this month at the Festival Theatre to acclaim by audiences and runs until 2 January. There are also two live stream performances on Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 December.
To find out more about the production or to book a ticket, please visit www.cft.org.uk