The Year 9 drama students boarded the Somerset College bus bound for QPAC, the destination of their first drama excursion, on Tuesday 19 February. On arrival the students were taken in to the QPAC lobby to meet their tour guides, Keith and Gary, who took the students into the Concert Hall.
The guides taught them about how the shape and features of each stage venue uniquely manipulated the acoustics of the room to meet the purpose of each individual venue. For example, the triangular shapes on the ceiling of the Concert Hall split the sound waves so the sound becomes clearer. Afterwards we were taken backstage and learnt about the pianos and the dressing rooms, numbered 2 – 12, 14 – 52 because 13 is considered an unlucky number and so that performers couldn’t say that they were the best and deserved dressing room 1.
We were next taken to the area where the props and set pieces are put together and the unused set and props are put in boxes onto trucks and sent wherever needed. On the day we were there, we saw The Australian Ballet delivering all their pieces for, Alice in Wonderland. This loading area was very interesting as we were shown that all the stages are level so that minimal lifting is required to move set pieces in and out of the venues. We then went through a sound-lock (a pair of giant metal doors spaced out to create complete silence from any outside noise) that led to the Playhouse Theatre. This theatre is special because its side stage wings are so big that the stage crew can set up an entire stage and just slide it into audience view either by hand or with the help of a fly-tower. A fly tower goes above the stage, with a system known as double purchase counterweight flying, allowing for a lot of space for set pieces and other necessary items to be lifted above the stage space.
After tour guide Gary did ‘the famous clap’ (he did this in all the auditoriums we went to), we moved out to the main entrance of The Playhouse Theatre and were taught about the structural aspects of the building (e.g. cantilevers and the under ground supports) and how the major floods of 2011 heavily affected the QPAC building, where, at the time, Wicked was due to perform but they had to close off the building and fly the cast and crew home whilst they postponed the show for two weeks to repair flood damage. Finally, we moved through the big glass doors into the Cremorne Theatre, (which was a lot smaller than I expected) and were taught about how the curtains on the walls of the theatre absorbed sound but could be opened up to let the sound bounce around. After this amazing experience the students boarded the bus and headed back to the College to finish off their day at school.
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