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Spotlight on Strath Societies – Musical Theatre Society

Strathclyde Musical Theatre Society, SMTS for short, hosts events for its members and puts on a wonderful annual showcase. We got the chance to chat with Layla and Joanna from the society about all the events and initiatives led by the society.

 

Introduce yourself and what your role in SMTS is.

 We are from Strathclyde Musical Theatre Society; I am Layla Templeton, the Vice President and this is Joanna Stewart, our secretary. Our president, Charlotte Hill, sends her sincerest apologies that she cannot make this today, as she is out on placement, but thanks you for this opportunity.

Charlotte at the Musical Theatre Showcase

What are some of the other roles within the society?

We have a full board that handles the majority of the administrative side of the society, featuring our treasurer, fundraisers and social conveners and a PR team. Due to the pandemic, our roles overlap more than usual and our secretary, fundraising and social conveners became virtual coordinators. We also have a creative team consisting of a director, both music and band directors, and a choreographer. 

What is the main focus of the society? 

Our President, Charlotte was one of the founding members last year alongside Laura Milligan and their principal aim was to create a society that they felt was missing from Strath Union. There were separate societies for drama and music but not one that was necessarily tailored to a musical theatre interest, so their goal was to connect everyone with a love of theatre, put in performances and fundraise for local charities.

What are some of the events that have been hosted or will be hosted in the future?

We have held a host of online events this year, including: a musical theatre themed murder mystery night, quiz nights, karaoke, boozy bingo, games nights and Power Point nights. Forthcoming, we are planning another murder mystery, more games nights and a dress up quiz where we will dress up as our favourite musical theatre characters. Our choreographer, Rachel Ashmead, is a fitness instructor and runs Broadway Boogie classes online, so one of our next events is attending a class, to support her career. Lastly, our most important event forthcoming is our showcase.  

Musical Theatre Society Group Photo

How does someone join the society? Do they need to have a background in Musical Theatre?

Any experience and/or theatre interest is helpful but is absolutely not necessary. We have an open-chorus policy, where people can come and see what the society is like and be part of the group numbers. Auditions are held for principle roles. Due to the pandemic, everything is now online, which we understand can make joining a society rather daunting. At this poijt in the semester, new members would not be able to perform in the showcase coming this June, however we will always welcome you to come along, join in on the social events or even sit in on the rehearsal to get a feel for the group.

We do have an annual membership fee, which is £10 and can be purchased from the Union’s website. The money is used as a starting point for purchasing costumes and equipment for events that we run.

What can a member expect by joining?

We have a great theatre community in our society and want everyone to feel welcomed. We pride ourselves in supporting our members out with the perimeters of theatre too. For example, a few members have their own small businesses and so we share posts for them and try to support by buying from them too. Moreover, if someone is struggling, with their course for example, and we know members who have been through it and can help, then we direct the person towards them. The best thing to do is to come to the events, introduce yourself and get involved. Make yourself known. 

Regarding the charity month, we saw that you were raising money for the Trussell Trust. Why did you choose that specific trust? Are there any connections?

 Last year we raised money for Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS). The Society then went on to raise about £600 for the Morrison’s Community outreach programme where they prepared boxes that fed a family of up to six over the Christmas Period.  The team saw the impact that Covid-19 had on people and thought that the best way that we could support the local community was by giving back to a food bank charity. We presented options to the whole society and the top vote went to the the Trussell Trust. 

 We are definitely going to revisit some of the other charities in the list as there were some really good charities that a lot of our members were really passionate about.  

How did the event go? How much money did you raise?

We raised £205 across the month of February. We did a raffle and we made Cameo’ style videos, where members of the society would pay and request other members to do all sorts of videos. The videos were more within the society, as it was done between members, but the raffle was open to everyone. Both events were quite successful, and the personalised videos were definitely a blast. 

How did the society find the transition online?

 We will tackle this in two ways: the shift for socials and the rehearsal/ performance transition.

 At the end of last year, with the very start of lockdown, we were running a quiz every week, and it got quite repetitive. This academic year we branched out to the other events, and by process of elimination, we found out what worked, and we have gotten quite good at planning in advance. It has definitely not been an easy transition, but we have now gotten the hang of it.

 In terms of the actual practical rehearsals, it was really tricky to work out at the start and we kind of had a moment of crisis. It came down to trial and error, more than anything else, and we ended up coming up with a decent system of blended live and recorded rehearsals, organised weeks in advance.

Is there a wider Musical Theatre Society Network?  (If yes) how does the Musical Theatre Society of Strathclyde fit into it?

There is quite an established Musical Theatre Network in Scotland. Glasgow specifically is a massive hub for amateur societies and productions. 

Sadly, often in theatre, necessary professional experience and dress size is exclusionary for many people. We wanted to set ourselves apart from this and be more inclusive. We also do not like putting people in boxes, which is why for our showcase we have a gender miscast for example. The Society don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. We want it to be more welcoming, more inclusive. 

Are there any aspects or issues within the field of Musical Theatre, that you would like to raise awareness for?

People are very capable of consuming the arts in their everyday life but often do not register it as anything more than a glorified hobby. That is absolutely not okay by us, especially for people who want a career in the arts. We try to combat this by raising awareness and supporting our artists.

Theatre is also massively important for development from a really young age as a way  to explore your identity. By allowing yourself to step into somebody else’s shoes and play another character, you find parts of yourself, that maybe you didn’t know where there. And there’s also a level of confidence and self-worth that you can get from it. 

Mainly we encourage you all to support your arty friends and your local theatres when they’re able to open again. We think it is important that general society recognises prejudices and going forward makes the changes.  

Are there any other fun facts about SMTS?

I suppose the fact we have a full 16-piece pit band is fun! We are extremely amazed at our little community. 

We would also really like to shine the light on our showcase, called “Broadway’s Best”. The showcase will use our favourite songs from Broadway shows and make them our own. It has original orchestration, compositions, vocal ranges and choreography. We also have a professional videographer and a sound mixer on board. The showcase will be held on June 19th and will be streamed on the Union’s page

If you want to be a member or connect with SMTS,  you can find them here:

Union Page, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and website.

Got your own story to tell?  Get in contact here
Read more news here

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