Whole School Undergraduate Open Day

Booking is now open for our Whole School Open Day on Sunday 24th March, from 10am to 4pm. This is for all undergraduate programmes at the school

This is an opportunity to visit the school and have a look at all of the undergraduate programmes on offer – as well as BA Production Arts (Stage Management, Costume, Design Realisation or Theatre Technology pathways) and BA Video Design for Live Performance, information will also be available on BMus programmes, BA Acting and BA Performance and Creative Enterprise.

There will be staff and current students on hand to answer questions about the programmes and all aspects of student life, including accommodation and funding. There will also be demonstrations, talks, workshops and performances throughout the day for you to drop in to.

Go here to book your place on this Open Day. We’re looking forward to meeting people there!


Group Presentations 2019

Today’s the day that the first year’s show their Group Presentations. This involves all of the Production Arts department first year students from all pathways to work together to present work on a common theme. This year the theme is The Seasons.


We started with Spring. Their stimulus was the painting A Breath of Spring by Zou FuLei and I Am the Resurrection by The Stone Roses. This team had made T-shirts for their team members with Spring It On stenciled on the back.


Then we moved to Summer and the memories of a New York Police Officer of when he was a boy in the 1960’s. They’d put together a story that was based on their stimulus – a photograph of a fire hydrant being set off in 1960’s American summer and Heatwave and Dancing in the Street by Martha and the Vandella’s.

The Summer team also took us to a 60’s jazz bar on a hot summer’s evening…


For Autumn we looked at all the different things that happen during the season – bonfires, pumpkins, Halloween and Remembrance Day. Their stimulus was the painting Autumn Leaves by John Everett Millais and the music The Autumn Stone by The Small Faces.


The final group showed us Winter – inspired by J.M.W Turner’s Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth and Endtroducing by DJ Shadow. We went onto the deck of a boat and were treated to the interactive element of sea spray and indoor snow!


Well done to all four groups!

Spring Associated Studies

It’s that time of year when first year students across the Production Arts department have been taking classes within another pathway! Here’s a snapshot of what everybody’s been getting up to in Associated Studies.

…in Automation

Stage Managers are a multi talented bunch, turns out that our current first years can also dance! And make giant cardboard cut outs of Shrek’s gingerbread friend to fly.

…in Production Management

Building the tallest possible tower from sellotape and paper in just 5 minutes.

…in Costume

How many items of clothing can you make from one plain white shirt? The students came up with a dress, crop top, skirt, lots of different styles of shirt and even a bonnet!

…in Stage Management

We’ve had a lovely week with Theatre Technology and Costume students, learning some Stage Management skills and exploring how we work as a department. The first skill was making fake food – the students made a fake food feast, we were treated to lasagne, meatloaf, fish fingers, scone and jam, chocolate cake and all sorts of other goodies.

sm food - tuesday 4

Other skills covered this week included introductions to marking up, cueing to music, Photoshop and visits to the Guildhall Stores and Farley Prop Hire to learn where props can come from. We’ve also had a go at making some fake alcoholic drinks.

The week came to an end with the Great Smash Up, where the students paired up to create a three course meal and drink, along with a menu so they could demonstrate the making and Photoshop skills they’ve learnt this week. This presentation was a competition, with each visitor being invited to vote and chocolates (real not Smash) for the winners. We were treated to the following:

Spoons Snacks (Matt and Finlay) presented basic balls, 248V burger and a brownie, alongside a Xmas Quiz Half Pint. This restaurant featured the faces of Lighting Lecturers Jon and Nick, although we’re not sure if they endorse it. The gentlemen received 4 votes and came in 4th place.

Big Daddy’s (presented by Nat and Anna) served dough balls with a garlic glaze (complete with a burnt bottom to the dough balls!), hot dog and chilli loaded fries, a shake and whiskey. They received 5 votes and came 3rd.

Kabab Shabab frontmen Sami and Tom presented lentil soup, a kebab wrap, caramel kunafa and a drink. They received 9 votes and came 2nd.

The winning pair, Sam and Eilidh, showcased their restaurant Graham’s by serving butternut squash soup and homemade pollock fishcakes. There was also a choice of desserts – selection of sorbet or Chef Sam’s Special Chocolate Fudge Cake, washed down with a tequila sunrise cocktail. They received 10 votes – well done!


All in all, a very enjoyable 2 weeks of Associated Studies, the next set will take place in the first weeks of the summer term.

Graduation Project: Lighting Design

As part of their third year studies, each student in the Production Arts department completes a Graduation Project. This can take the form of a written dissertation, a production folder or a creative project – the choice is entirely up to the student! Students also choose the content of the project themselves, in the past we’ve had model boxes, TV recording events, apothecary cabinets, escape room events, Alice’s tea party and all sorts of other wonderful projects.

Before Christmas, third year Stage Management student Tash Holdaway undertook the lighting design for the Autumn Opera Scenes production as her Graduation Project. She had this to say about her experience:


Autumn Opera Scenes, photo credit Matthew Ferguson

As part of our final year at Guildhall, we have to complete a graduation project than can be anything you want it to be! For mine, I chose to develop some skills that I learnt in 2nd year and was the lighting designer for Autumn Opera Scenes.

Throughout this, I learnt a huge amount about lighting and the creative process behind a design. As Opera Scenes is a collection of scenes it gave me the challenge of creating 11 different lighting states along with being able to use some specials such as pendants.

This was a huge challenge for me but it was one of the most rewarding things I have done, seeing my creative ideas come to life. Although there were many obstacles along the way, I was able to take away so much from it“.

Photo credit: Tash Holdaway

Back to School

And we’re back! Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas holiday and happy new year to everyone.

Milton Court

Lots going on this term, as usual:

January: rehearsals are already under way for our Rep season which will be performed in the Milton Court Theatre, this years productions for the season are Fury and Detroit. Rehearsals have also started for our devised piece, Towers. In classes, our first years are busy with Associated Studies, look out for further posts about them trying out other pathways and learning new skills in Design Realisation, Video, Costume or Theatre Technology. Straight after Associated Studies, the first year will move on to the Group Project – last year we were invited into a den of mythical monsters in the Tech Lab, what will be this years theme?

February: Detroit and Fury will open in the Milton Court Theatre, Fury on the 1st and Detroit on the 4th. Towers will then open in the Milton Court Studio on Monday 11th. A Midsummer Night’s Dream will open in the Silk Street Theatre on Monday 25th. The first years will show off their Group Projects on Friday 1st, then it’s back into lessons for everyone and crewing the opera for Group B, as well as working on the Whole School Project at the end of the month.

March: this is interview time in the Stage Management department for next academic year’s students – good luck to all who are coming for interviews! The showing’s for the second year actors Musical Theatre Project will take place this month, supported by Stage Management students. This terms Opera Scenes production will open in the Milton Court Studio on Wednesday 20th, with Orestes opening in the Silk Street Theatre on Friday 22nd. We will be having a Whole School Undergraduate Open Day on Sunday 24th March, which takes place just before World Theatre Day on Wednesday 27th. Term will end for Easter on Friday 29th for everyone to have a well deserved rest!

Going Visiting

This term our first year students have visited a variety of theatres, prop houses and museums as part of their studies.

The first visit of the term was to Farley Prop Hire. Farley’s have over 50,000 items of antique furniture, props and accessories that can be hired by theatre, film and TV productions. They’re made up of 4 departments, each of which has a specialism – whether that’s lighting, art works, silverware – the list goes on! The first year students were very impressed with the long list of well know films and TV programmes that Farley’s have hired to over the years! For more information, you can view their website here.

The students also had a backstage tour at Aladdin, which is in the Prince Edward Theatre. They went to see the production the week before the visit. Then we went to the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising to look through their time tunnel and collections – they’re a great resource for props research! You can’t take pictures inside the Brand Museum, but we sat in their lovely garden area to discuss the exhibits.

The next visit was to the National Theatre’s Props and Costume hire departments – furniture from the National’s stock is on hire to our production Saturday, Sunday, Monday and we work with the hire departments at the National a lot.

Next up was the English National Opera at the London Coliseum. We spoke to Phillip, Stage Manager, and Ben, DSM, from the ENO’s stage management department about how stage management works at the ENO. Ben is a Guildhall grad who left us last July, so the students were able to ask him questions about how the training they’re currently receiving is useful to him in his professional life. We then had a backstage tour of the Coliseum, where the crew were setting up for their evening production of La Boheme.

Photo 28-11-2018, 15 55 15

ENO Visit

We have also been on backstage visits at the Royal Opera House and the National Theatre. At the Royal Opera House, we were shown how their moving floor onstage works to help them turn shows around quickly and Senior Stage Manager (Opera) Simon talked about Opera as a career choice and how the Opera House puts on their productions. At the National, we saw the Olivier and Lyttleton Theatres, as well as the backstage workshop areas and dressing room block.

We ended our visit at the National by meeting with Janice Hayes, who is Deputy Company Manager. She answered lots of questions about working at the National and Stage Management in general.

Thank you to all companies who have hosted our visits this term!

Autumn Opera Scenes

Props Spread

Props Spread

The first Opera Scenes production for this academic year ends its run in the Milton Court Studio this evening. These productions are informal performances of extracts from several different operas – this one includes scenes from Don Pasquale, Fidelio, Written on Skin, La Boheme, Le Nozze di Figaro and Rinaldo, amongst others.

The singers are accompanied by a repetiteur on piano, led by Music Director Elizabeth Rowe. Martin Lloyd-Evans has directed, with Adam Torrance, who is a fellow on the Opera Course, taking on the role of Assistant Director. The set has been designed by Alexandra Kharibian and costume by Lydia Comer Narroway, a third year Costume student. Lighting design is by Natasha Holdaway, who is a third year Stage Management student. This production is also Natasha’s graduation project.

The production has six in its Stage Management team, Lauren (SM), Abi (DSM), Jenn, Tabitha, Colin and Ellen (ASM’s). Jenn and Tabitha went to pick up a school desk bought on eBay for the production and had to wait for their collection, so they took some photos with the desk on the street while they waited, it also proved very popular as a work station for Saturday, Sunday, Monday ASM Tom!

The set for the production features a tree that is built entirely out of chairs, with items from our props store hanging in amongst the chairs.

Abi's view from the box

ASM, Tabitha, is an elective student who has joined us for this production from Design Realisation. Having done Stage Management as one of her Associated Studies last year, Tabitha was then able to take on an ASM role in her second year. She describes her experience on Opera Scenes as “I’ve had such a fun and crazy time the last six weeks and it has been a big challenge learning new skills such as reading music and working with new departments!  There’s been lots of hard moments but so fun to be a part of a team running a show each day! Chairs (many many chairs), hessian, babies and a lobster sum it up somehow!! Thanks to all the SM and technical teams and fab cast on opera scenes! :)”


Tabitha’s photo that sums up her time on Opera Scenes

Skillful Students

As a Stage Manager, it’s useful to have a wide variety of skills and to know a little bit about all of the other backstage departments and what they’re working to achieve. With this in mind, we introduce the first year Stage Management students to as many of the other departments as possible and give them basic skills in each.

The Sound department have taught skills, like how to fit a microphone to a performer:

The Design Realisation department have given introductory sessions in Prop Making, Scenic Painting and Construction. The students have learnt various painting techniques on chairs in Scenic Painting and built wooden dogs with joints using various techniques in Construction.

One student had this to say about their experiences in the Design Realisation department: “In the Scenic Painting class, we were able to try out a range of scenic painting techniques, including colour matching, rusting and wood graining. It was really good fun to experiment and try out these techniques as a group. Then as a team in Construction we were able to create a wooden dog that allowed us to use a range of tools. I found it really exciting to learn how to use a jigsaw and it has helped me to work out what I would like to do for my Associated Studies”.

Marking up a rehearsal room is a key skill in Stage Management, obviously the whole set cannot be built for a rehearsal room, so you draw the ground plan of the set onto the rehearsal room floor for the actors to work out where important things like walls and doors are going to be! Once the team had finished practicing by marking out the set from The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, there was a crime committed in the room and they had to mark out a body too!

The students have been learning to follow and cue to music, ready for working on our opera productions. “I have really enjoyed cueing to music and as someone who can’t read music and has never studied music theory I feel I have really developed and learnt a lot” was a comment from one of our students.They also got to grips with using our prompt desks, as you can see below.

Students wanting to practice outside of the classroom came up with an ingenious solution to get around not having the prompt desk – they made a mock up out of Fruit Pastilles!

The students have also been learning basic costume skills – including getting to grips with sewing machines, overlockers and irons, as well as alteration skills.

Group A worked as crew for Cosi fan Tutte in the Silk Street Theatre. They had chance to learn lots of new skills over the course of their time on the production…

All in all, a very busy and successful first term at Guildhall for our first years!

Final Call for TheatreCraft 2018


Ladies and gentlemen, this is your final call to join us at the 2018 TheatreCraft event on Monday. This is a careers event for backstage disciplines and is being held at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel in London. It will be open between 9:30am and 4:30pm.

Guildhall staff and current students will be attending to talk to anyone who’s interested in the courses that we offer within the Production Arts department. These are BA Production Arts programme pathways (Stage Management, Theatre Technology, Costume and Design Realisation), BA Video Design for Live Performance and the MA in Collaborative Theatre Production and Design, as well as information on our Short Courses that run over the summer holidays.

We will be on stand 3 in the Palm Court area. There will be lots of other exhibitors and sessions going on throughout the day. Visit the TheatreCraft website for more information and to book your place.