Amy Gilmartin shares another insight into Dr Stirlingshire’s Discovery


It’s the second day of tech.

I’m standing in the middle of Edinburgh Zoo, script in hand, attempting to act opposite a professional actor in front of the Grid Iron and Lung Ha team, voices in my ear from a radio mic, with a professional photographer taking photographs and a lion roaring in the background.

How did I end up here?

My first day of tech was relatively simple.  I wondered through the beautiful surroundings on the zoo, occasionally giving an opinion on a position or a level, but mainly observing the production team as they put together the world of the play.  By observing the process, I was striving to understand more about site specific theatre and how it all works.  It felt so different from other technical rehearsal I’ve observed or been involved in, instead of being in a dark room for days on end, we are outside, with breathtaking views of the city and occasional battles with the elements.

My second day of tech, after a few temporary changes of circumstances, was far more complicated.  But I learn so much more through the act of doing than observing, and I really did get the chance to do so this week!

Every production you work on offers a unique set of challenges, but I can safely say I’ve never worked on a show quite like Dr Stirlingshire’s Discovery.  Grid Iron and Lung Ha have given me a huge opportunity to practice my craft, understand what it is to work within a huge team, grow as an artist and as a person.

Did I ever think I’d happily cluck like hen, waddle like a penguin or temporarily try my hand at the weird and wonderful Morna Pearson characters?  No.  Not really.  But I have, and enjoyed every moment.  As an emerging director, I believe it’s so valuable for me to understand and remember what I’m asking of actors.  I have no desire to act myself, but by jumping in and reading in for various roles in rehearsals in the room and during technical rehearsals, I get to see and understand the play from a complete different viewpoint.

Similarly, during tech week and the previews, I have helped with support and the process of getting everyone to where the need to be, complete with radio mic in my ear.  Hopefully, to the audience, it will all look seamless, and that’s thanks to the generous support team and excellent production team.  I know I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg of the work the team does, but again, as an emerging director, better understanding their jobs is an invaluable experience.

It’s taken a lot of people, working extremely hard, a long time to get us to the zoo, but we’ve got here.  And now it’s time for the audience to join us.

The Assistant Director position on Dr Stirlingshire’s Discover has been supported by the Federation of Scottish Theatre with funding from Creative Scotland.

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