London Pirate Crew Training day at the London Palladium Theatre 14th of February 2018
A Pirate Valentines day with a difference – Pirate Crew Training
At Pirate Crew we have a wide and diverse number of skilled technicians from all different fields and backgrounds. Some young and some seasoned, but all highly professional. All of them capable of learning and sharing good theatre practice & techniques to help Pirate Crew achieve the high standard we already command in the theatre and events industry as far more than just your average crew.
After a very kind invite from John Rowland, Master Carpenter at the wonderful London Palladium Theatre, to use his venue for a day, we kindly accepted the offer and decided to put together a Crew Training day for our crew. As a company that has consistently worked with the Palladium over the past few years it seemed like a environment that many of our crew already felt at home in.
The main aim of the day was to give all pirates present a chance to learn and refine techniques that they were unsure of, or uncomfortable with, and help contribute knowledge and skills collectively to create a unified standard of Safe Practice and Technical Efficiency.
It created the opportunity to learn in an onsite environment with the chance to model techniques in a realtime situation with a forum atmosphere where pirates of all levels were able to discuss and critique the work that was done.
Treated as a real days work from beginning to end all pirates were bright eyed and bushy tailed at the stage door at 08.45am, primed and ready for the 09.00 start. After a swift morning briefing the team were quickly divided into training teams and and put to task on a number of exercises that would have universal value in any theatre and events environment and would be instrumental in the the collective tasks and challenges that would be tackled later in the day.
These included scenic flat handling, trailer loading, slinging flight-cases, general purpose knots & applications, using motors, manual handling techniques, basic counterweight flying, loading and weighting a counterweight flying system, grid work, site communication and much more.
Even though many of our Pirates had some prior knowledge and mastery of the techniques, it gave all present a valuable opportunity to get all things 100% right in a supportive environment. The aim was to teach what we knew but to also get the Pirates teaching each other and asking advice from their peers. This idea of a forum for positive ideas was very fruitful, and all crew present performed even better than expected as new skills were learned.
When talking with the crew the general consensus seemed to be that everyone now felt much more comfortable technically and also achieved a greater level of confidence in themselves as well as each other to perform all tasks to the same standard.
The second half of the crew training day was a collective task in which the different teams of varying experience took on a task each with the main goal being to create a finished stage setting complete with steel deck, marley dance floor, masking and spot lined equipment. As the task involved building and dismantling, all crews were given the chance to attempt each different task. Different pirates within the group were given the opportunity to practice in the role of Crew Boss, working from a plan and being the key person in each department. This gave the personnel a sense of the job of a Crew Boss along with it’s many challenges, as well as open their minds to thinking for and motivating themselves.
They learnt valuable lessons about safe and correct communication in a theatre environment and how to visualise each process from start to finish, and then to communicate this to their crew.
Assessors present were able to observe and comment at will, constantly challenging all crew present to constantly think about best practice and how to achieve the collective goals to a high standard. As the task went on each crew member gathered a greater understanding of why these techniques practiced on the day were so valuable and how a unified crew all working with the same methods and similar skill levels can be so effective for our clients.
From the assessment perspective it allowed us as a company to really take stock and appreciate the potential in all crew present, which is really exciting. From a teaching perspective the aim to get all individuals’ knowledge up to a good standard was a success. We and our clients expect a consistently good service in the workforce provided, both in skills and attitudes. It is obvious in the success of our personal approach with our crew, that we have the best path to having a truly happy workforce.
An added bonus to the day was that it show cased individual talents and gave us a chance to appreciate both existing & new people face to face.
As the day drew to a close the success was validated by the smiles on the crews faces and safe knowledge that as a company we have a core body of crew who will take this training forward to future Pirates who join the company, and that we have a positive platform for crew training in the future based around real information gathered from the crew we are providing it for.
**Photos by Lawrence Coke