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Tour Of Lamda

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Hi all,


I think this is my first post here, but could be mistaken... Been lurking for a while, but sorry if this is old ground.


I've been thinking about post-grad stage management / technical theatre courses, and I've finally made the leap of looking at colleges (it means a bit of a career change, so it's a bit scary, but that's a different story entirely!).


Anyway, at the end of June I looked round RWCMD, and absolutely loved it - I was shown pretty much every room in the place (by a current stage management & technical theatre student), and afterwards had half an hour's chat with the head of department (and I'm sure he'd have talked for longer if I'd wanted!) - this was brilliant, and I left thinking that RWCMD was probably the place for me.


Nonetheless, being a sensible chap, I planned to look at rival places, and booked a tour of LAMDA. I had some brief email correspondence with a secretary there, who told me that tours happen every day, and I just had to let them know with 24 hours notice if I wanted to go along. So I did, and turned up yesterday for my tour. I spoke to the receptionist (I think the same person I'd emailed), who looked a litle surprised at the concept of a tour and asked me to take a seat. To my surprise, about 2 minutes later, she appeared to take me on the tour. 'Fair enough', I thought, 'why shouldn't she know about the course?'. The tour proceeded as follows:


- "This is the library..." (the door was locked) "...oh, the door's locked, well, never mind, it's got some books in. There's another library too, with loads of scripts in."

- We go up some stairs, she asks what course I'm interested in, and, perhaps I'm being unfair, but she seems surprised to hear that they even do a stage management & technical theatre course. She tells me that she doesn't really know what to show me.

- She shows me a rehearsal room. It's very nice, and I tell her so.

- She tries to show me another rehearsal room, but there's an audition in there, so she can't. I tell her that it doesn't matter.

- We go back downstairs, to their studio theatre, she tries to show me that, but there's someone in there, so she can't. She tells me that it's "quite big".

- She tells me that they have another theatre, which is bigger, but it's a long way away, so I can't see that either.

- She takes me back to reception, asks if I have any questions, and I realise that the tour's over. I ask how many people are on the course. She doesn't know.

- She gives me a prospectus, and I leave. The whole process has taken 10 minutes. I'd woken up at 6.30am, and got a train to London specially (well, kind of specially, I did also manage to squeeze in a show...). I was left with four hours to kill. I got wet in the rain.


Sorry - that turned into a rant, I honestly didn't mean it to, but the more I think about it the more it annoys me. The receptionist was lovely, and was obviously very embarrassed about not being able to give me a useful tour, but that's not really the point. Part of me feels like I'd made some stupid mistake, like gone to the wrong place, or not spoken to the right person, but I can't think what I should have done. The only possible thought I have is that it's Edinburgh time, so the people who normally do the tours might not have been there? If that's the case it would have been nice if she'd said that, and suggested I come back another time - or even told me so when I'd booked the tour, some two weeks before.


I got the impression from their website that the stage management & technical theatre course exists solely to crew the shows for their acting students, and unfortunately the tour seems to have confirmed that.


Sorry too for the fact that this post seems to be largely pointless, I suppose I'm posting in the hopes that a current student at LAMDA, or someone else who's been on a tour there can tell me that I'm an idiot, and that if I'd just ....... I'd have had a different experience. Or maybe that the tours are terrible, but that once you get there the course is great. Alternatively, of course, others might say they had similar experiences, and it will stop someone else wasting his/her time like I did.

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I work in the LAMDA admissions department and in the reception office area and would just like to respond to your post.


Firstly I would like to apologise for your tour at LAMDA. I have been working at LAMDA for 3 years and can assure you the tour is not a reflection on the way things are done here.


The tours we offer are mainly for students to get a feel of the school and gives them a chance to ask specific questions which are not covered in the prospectus. The tours are not usually very long as the building is not very large and we do not feel that showing every empty room in the building would be that interesting to you. However we do aim to show you key areas where you would be working and areas like the student common room for you to get a feel of the school.


Unusually during this summer period we have had the touring cast for Guys and Dolls rehearsing in our spaces and they do not always leave for lunch (the time when we do the tours) so this may have been the reason some of the rooms and our studio theatre were occupied.


Also unusually our department has been extremely short staffed over the summer with one member of staff off with broken bones and two brand new members of staff who are just learning how the school works.


Usually students that come on the tours are acting students and we may not have been aware that you were coming to visit as a prospective Stage Management student. The Stage Management students usually do not spend time over in the main building until the second year when they are stage managing shows. The first year is mainly spent in our large theatre in Earls Court. During the Summer that theatre is dark and we are unable to give tours around the theatre at this time.


LAMDA does not hold acting open days but we do hold a Stage Management and Technical Theatre Open Day in February 2007. This will be held at the LAMDA theatre and is specifically for SM students to meet the technical staff and ex students from the course who will tell you honestly what the course is really like.


Again I apologise for your bad experience and hope that you will consider coming back during term time to see our theatre or maybe attend the open day in February (pencilled in for Sat 17 Feb 2007), more details will be on our website later on in the year.


In the meantime please email me at LAMDA with any questions you have or I can pass you onto the head of the course who will be more than happy to help.


Cally Brown

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Thanks very much for the reply, Cally, and in the interests of fairness I should mention that I also had a private message from a current LAMDA SM&TT student, who had similarly positive comments.


It does seem that I was unlucky with my tour, although I did make it clear in my first email (in which I specifically asked about open days) that I was interested in SM&TT, and the lady who replied told me that you don't do open days, but that I could come on a tour - presumably she's one of the new staff to whom you refer.


I still feel from your website, and the experience in general that the SM&TT course seems to be considered less important (for want of a better word) than the rest of the school. You tell me that you have an open day, but I see absolutely no mention of it on your website (perhaps I'm not looking in the right place? I do seem to remember having seen a mention to it some time ago, which was what prompted my email asking about it), or any details of how to contact the SM&TT department to arrange a tour, which is obviously what I should have done, rather than contacting you with a general query. Although, perhaps the fact that a general query can't find its way to the SM&TT department is evidence in itself?


EDIT: Sorry, I've just looked more carefully on your website and found the page about the 2006 open day, which is obviously what I saw before. My fault for not looking carefully enough (although light grey text on a dark grey background doesn't really stand out that clearly...! :off:)

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You tell me that you have an open day, but I see absolutely no mention of it on your website

Erm.... Maybe that's because Cally said it had been pencilled in (ie NOT yet confirmed).


Fair point - but it wouldn't hurt to say, 'we have an annual open day which is usually held in February, watch this space for more information', just to let prospective students know that it was planned.

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Fair point - but it wouldn't hurt to say, 'we have an annual open day which is usually held in February, watch this space for more information', just to let prospective students know that it was planned.


I get the impression that you're maybe being a little too negative and possibly sending out the wrong signals to a potential future establishment where you may be educated. This could in some ways influence any decision by said establishment on whether you gain entry or not.

OK - you had some problems/issues with your initial contact with said school, but after what I thought was an excelent response from a rep from there, you've continued to be a little disparaging about the place, if only by intimation. There may be good reasons why LAMDA may not wish to publicise their February dates at this moment and they do not have to share these with you.


Just some thoughts.


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Sorry if you think I'm being overly negative, that really isn't my intention. I've simply laid out the facts of what happened (and you'll see that I mentioned the positive comments that I'd received from a LAMDA student, in an attempt to maintain the objectiveness of my post), and given my opinion on how the problem could be avoided in future. Perhaps I should have made it clearer that it was just my opinion, but I tend to think that that goes without saying. Also, maybe I should have made contact with the school before posting my comments in public, but bear in mind that at the time the only contact details I had were the same ones that I used to organise the tour, so hopefully I can be forgiven for not having the highest hopes of receiving a useful response.


You make a good point about my post possibly influencing a decision, which is, of course, perfectly true, but then I'd like to think that someone making such a decision would understand that my intention wasn't to cause trouble, but simply to share an experience, and possibly be put right, as I say at the end of my initial post.


All the best,


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