Over the last month, as part of a Cultural Internship from the University of Birmingham, Kianna worked alongside the team on To The Streets! She supported with rehearsals for the outdoor concert performances that were part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival.
Reflecting on her time with us, Kianna wrote some diary entries each week to give an insight into what she learnt:
I’ve just finished the first few days of the start of my internship, I’m on a train back to London from Birmingham so I’ll tell you what I’ve done! Just a quick note my internship is a producing assistant role with China Plate working on ‘To The Streets’ a concert-musical inspired by the Bristol Bus Boycott.
I attended an event for Soho Settlers, which was wonderful. I met many people who have lived in the area for numerous years, hearing their stories about migration and settling into the area. It was lovely to socialise with my elders, playing dominoes and listening to poetry.
Not to forget going on a walk with Black Heritage Walks Network and trying out the Overhear app for the first time, which I recommend. I’ve been on bus city tours and listened to the history of Victorians or Tudors via headsets. However, it felt so special to hear about my roots and history, especially here in the UK.
I couldn’t leave without getting a glimpse of the gallery, which was so empowering and exciting. The whole day was great! There were even canapes filled with ackee and saltfish vol-au-vents, callaloo spring rolls and some refreshing punch. It was lovely as these additions to the night would’ve been a nice reminder of home to those now living in the Soho Road area.
On day 2, I started early at the Birmingham Hippodrome, helping with the community cast call-out auditions.
I began the day by organising the afternoon music sheet; before I knew it was time to register everyone and assign them a numbered card for the dance audition.
Watching this was enjoyable, and I couldn’t help grooving to the music in my seat. It was amazing to see the young talent in the room, and the high level of focus delivered. The singing auditions were pleasant to listen to, as I got an insight into the musical score and already began to feel the vibrant calypso feel of the musical.
This week I have been at the China Plate Office in Birmingham undergoing various tasks in preparation for the show.
I had a few introductory meetings on what a producer does, gaining first-hand knowledge from the producers at China Plate. I started this week not having a clear idea of how to define a producer as I had never undergone the role before. However, I quickly learnt the importance of a producer as they turn ideas into reality and ‘get things done’.
I was also asked to create a blog for China Plate’s website introducing myself as the new intern, saying a bit about who I am. If you’re reading this, hopefully, you can have a look after!
In preparation for the weeks ahead, one of the tasks I was given was to create a spreadsheet formulating a list of train strikes and alternative routes due to the Industrial action ahead. This showed me that a producer always has to think two steps forward as it’s not just booking travel to think about but potential cancellations.
Quite a large task this week has been searching for community groups within Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton to target these groups to promote the show and provide concessionary rates. I learnt the importance of direct marketing as a means of promotion instead of solely using social media.
It has been enjoyable working in the China Plate Office, which is located in the coolest building. I even had the luxury of strolling through The Custard Factory during my lunch and exploring the various restaurants available. PS. Chance and Counters is definitely a go to!
I’ve been back in London this week, and it has been amazing to be in the first rehearsals at Jerwood Space, meeting the rest of the creative team and the cast.
So far, I have been on the hunt for beer crates creating various spreadsheets and finding out the size, cost, and delivery information. Who would’ve thought tracking down 30 beer crates would be such a mission. I’ve resorted to Freecycle and Facebook marketplace, but all this searching will be worth it. When you see the show, you’ll realise just how crucial these were. Thankfully, sourcing the binders and folders for the cast and the musical directors was a lot easier.
I was then able to make a start with filming, capturing singing content for an Instagram reel and writing up interview questions in preparation for my social media takeover next week.
Towards the end of the week, I started researching the Bristol Bus Boycott to gain a greater understanding of the event, so I am fully equipped to create a blog of it’s timeline. When applying for this internship, I had no idea about the Bristol Bus Boycott, which made me even keener to be involved in a project that creates awareness of our history here in the UK that many people don’t know. Reading about the event made me aware of the story’s many more loopholes.
With rehearsals for the show being in both London and Birmingham, I was also tasked with booking accommodation and train tickets for members of the creative team. By helping with the bookings, I realised finance is a huge part of producing and the importance of being organised and efficient. This was essential, especially due to the ongoing strikes.
I’ve been watching the athletics at the Commonwealth Games right here in Birmingham this week! Therefore, I’ve had a shorter week in rehearsals.
The past few days have been all about admin and communications. I have been sending out important emails and attending meetings with the Hippodrome for check-ins regarding the show’s progression. I can see how important these meetings are with the show soon approaching.
However, the most exciting part of the week has been the social media takeover on Birmingham Hippodrome’s Instagram page. It was amazing to have the opportunity to be free with my creativity and welcome both the cast and creative into this. As a content creator for my own account, taking on a business account was fantastic. This allowed me to entertain a larger audience while allowing them to take a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes action.
Throughout the internship, I learned that a producer constantly researches, whether historical research, marketing or finding equipment. This week I was asked if I could find a BSL Interpreter that we could book in order to ensure the show is as inclusive as possible. This required me to look for cost, location, dates, and availability, making a few calls and emails. Nevertheless, the research doesn’t stop there back to promotion again!
I have been delving back into research, finalising the blog of a timeline of the Bristol Bus Boycott. Hopefully, this will allow the audience to understand the story better, encouraging them to see the show.
I have been filming various videos to capture the best moments as the cast has danced their feet off. I have finished creating an Instagram Reel on China Plate’s Instagram account. Be sure to check it out if you haven’t seen it!
Not only have I been privileged to be in the rehearsal space seeing the incredibly high-energy dance routines and the amazing Musical numbers. But I have worked alongside an amazing creative team and cast. It has been such a great opportunity working alongside China Plate, and I CAN’T WAIT TO WATCH THE SHOW!!!
© Iona Firouzabadi