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London Big Day Out 2014

On Thursday 19 June, over 40 drama students (including myself) arrived at Crewe station at 06:25, ready to travel to London.

After confusion about which train to board at Crewe station, we were on our way and before long arrived into Euston. From there, we took the London Underground to Charring Cross, where after a brief walk we were on the South Bank, home of the National Theatre where we were soon to have a guided backstage tour, but not before some free time along the Thames.

The tour was given in groups of 20, each visiting four major locations within the National Theatre. The first was the largest of the three venues currently operating in the National Theatre: the Olivier Theatre, based on the Ancient Greek theatre at Epidaurus. Here the origins, development and current operations of the National Theatre were discussed, along with an explanation of major features of the Olivier, including its impressive Drum Revolve – a massive structure with two sections that can be independently raised and lowered, with the ability to rotate at the same time. The next location was a shared dressing room consisting of several ‘booths’ that overlook a courtyard at the centre of the building. Penultimately, we visited a set and prop workshop, where some of the tricks of the trade were revealed, such as the use of lightweight and flexible materials decorated to make objects appear solid and authentic. The final stop was a front of house cloakroom, where a rack of costumes, early models of a production’s set and rehearsal notes were laid out and explained.

Once every tour group returned, we made our way back over the Thames to Covent Garden, for free time to have lunch and experience the best of Covent Garden’s culture of street entertainers, stylish shops and numerous eateries.

When the group had rejoined, it was time to journey to the Victoria Palace Theatre for the matinee performance of Billy Elliot.

At the end of the performance, it was unfortunately time to start the journey home. Taking a very busy tube trip from Victoria brought us back to Euston, where we had 20 minutes of free time to grab a quick bite to eat for dinner before boarding the train back to Crewe. A 30 minute+ delay later and we arrived back into Crewe station, tired yet reminiscent of a wonderful day and hungry for more.

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