My Little Mermaid Experience by Hannah Walker

Last week I was lucky enough to join The Berry Youth Theatre (BYT) and help out with their production of The Little Mermaid at The Berry Theatre for a couple of days. It was brilliant to be able to be with the group and help them through, not only the lead up to the show, but also their first few productions.

On arrival of my first day I was thrown into the thick of it, which was a perfect way to meet all the cast and the team, I found myself getting involved in so many different things from playing director, hairdresser and make-up artist to working back stage and helping lead a tour around the theatre. The atmosphere in the theatre was amazing and it was so lovely to see how dedicated and excited the children were.

For me the highlight was the lead up to show number one. Even though I had only joined the day before, I felt part of the team and was as excited, (if not more) as the kids for everyone to see what BYT had been working on. Personally, I have never really had the opportunity to work properly backstage, so I really enjoyed seeing and learning about all the work that goes into prepping for and ensuring the smooth running of a show. I began to understand the amount of effort that goes into creating a beautiful set like the one that BYT had created (transporting pretty much a whole beach into and theatre and on stage isn't exactly a walk in the park). In fact it wasn't just the set that had taken months worth of preparation, the planning for the show was enormous task and included precise and tiny little details such as the watering all the sand on stage between every show and hours worth of sewing lights onto costumes.

I also felt very lucky that I was able to see the show flourish and be there for all the changes and tweaks that happened at the end of the process to form the 'finished product'. On my first day I sat with Lucy and watched their first dress rehearsal and it was incredibly interesting to see how much it developed even in this small window of time before the first performance.

I had an absolutely brilliant time working with everyone and the two days that I was there for whizzed by in a flash! But for only two days work, I have learnt an enormous amount from how to pre-set a show to how to tie a French plait (and there aren’t many occasions where you can do both of these!). Thank you BYT!

- Hannah Walker