LOOKOUT Alumni: Heidi Downing

From phone calls with strangers to plastic mice taped onto remote control cars, the past three weeks have been anything but ordinary. When a member of Komedia staff spotted my new face, they asked what I was doing and when I explained I was doing work experience their response was “well everyday here is certainly an experience!”. It’s true. Although I knew there was a lot going on behind scenes at a theatre venue, I never knew how busy and complicated the process of making a show was until I got there and joined this process myself. I have spent the past couple of weeks doing an internship at Komedia Brighton, and have been lucky enough to spend a few days in each department; from box office to technical to operations to marketing.

On my first day at Komedia I was in the tech department helping out on a play called ‘Police Cops in Space’. I hadn’t had much experience in tech prior to this other than occasionally playing people’s soundtracks for A-Level drama performances (very incomparable to the professional world of show tech, I know!). After spending a day shadowing technicians I discovered that music, SFX and lighting cues can all be set up and programmed prior to the show on special equipment; in reality it’s a lot easier to be organised in this department than I thought. By knowing your sound desk well through practice and experience, any stress and responsibility in theory becomes minimal and manageable!Despite having my internship in a comedy club, I hate to admit that I had never seen stand up before, and I certainly didn’t expect my first time to be alongside an audience of babies! One of the monthly comedy events that takes place at Komedia is targeted at parents with children under 15 months so they can enjoy afternoon stand up shows which allow them to bring their kids. For this show I was helping in operations so I had to baby-proof the studio, laying down rugs and soft play mats and sweeping up the floors to keep them clean and safe. During the performance I took some notes for a show report, which was essentially like writing a mini review (not that I’ve ever done this before) on each comedian. This later got typed up and saved to the company archives.

Box office was a contrasting department as it felt like in this department, I was constantly active and alert due to never knowing when someone is going to call or what they are going to say! My favourite department has to be marketing, and in the near future I will be returning to continue helping out in this department. Some of the things I enjoyed about marketing were being able to see the business side of social media and the different types of advertising a business can do.

One of the things I enjoyed most was the opportunity to see lots of the shows that go on at the venue; this was definitely a cherry on top of this action-packed internship. These last few weeks have enriched my knowledge of just how important each backstage roll is in putting on a performance. I can’t thank Louise from LOOKOUT enough for helping me set up this internship. I couldn’t have felt more welcome by Paul and the lovely team of staff at Komedia and I can’t wait to return.

Heidi studied at BHASVIC and was a LOOKOUT mentee in 18/19.

Originally posted 14th October 2019.