One of our favourite things about the Pass It On project is working with a team of volunteers who all have a myriad of different skills; one of our volunteers, Janet Green, tells us how she became involved with the project and how she has brought her talents in photography to the project:
It all started for me when Chichester Festival Theatre had an Open Day on a Sunday in September 2014. I had taken my visiting Australian relatives to see Guys and Dolls a few days before. We were all enchanted by our theatrical experience, and I was so proud to share Chichester Festival Theatre with them. To go back stage a few days’ later on the Open Day totally captured my imagination. I have a particular interest in photography so of course I had a camera with me and having sought permission captured a few amazing shots jostling with the crowds enjoying this wonderful opportunity. The way props were arranged backstage really fascinated me. The experience made me more aware of the people behind production who make it happen and the processes involved.
I made contact with Becky, the Pass It On Heritage Activities Officer, who thought my skills could best be used on the exhibition team. I was made to feel very welcomed by all. The beauty of it all for me has been having this opportunity as a volunteer to learn more about theatre and knowing that my photography has been useful. I have been using my photography in our touring exhibition Parkland to Performance to document the venues we are displaying in to help with the curating, as well as during and after the installations to record the process and evolution into all the spaces.
Beyond being part of the exhibition team, I also have photographed set models from past productions, whilst a group other volunteers cleaned them, to ensure they are all documented. Many of which were exquisitely made.
I have also photographed a number of Pass It On events including one given at the West Sussex Library as part of the Festival of Chichester on 18 June 2015. An expert panel from Chichester Festival Theatre gave a talk entitled Behind the Scenes. We were all so enchanted to have a glimpse of how theatre gets put together.
Also during the Chichester Festivities I was out in the city centre photographing Pass It On’s Searching for Spershott event, a family friendly trail based on CFT archival material. Volunteers and members of the public were taking part in a quest to re-enact a play first put on in 1986 to celebrate the Theatre’s 25th Festival season.
Whilst I lend my skills in photography to the project I also volunteer with CFT’s Archive, held at West Sussex Records Office. The theatre’s archive is full of photographs of productions, the building and much more, and I am assisting the theatre’s archivist, Nick, conserving some of these great images. It is such privilege to have this opportunity and know that the theatre belongs to us all.