Speaker rehearsals

Here we are again, and this year I feel even more excited, because I am remembering how brilliant TEDxExeter was last year and expectations are sky high!

11:50 Caroline, one of the lovely TEDxExeter organisers, is dancing around the stage with the new team T-shirts – go team!

12:15 Martha Wilkinson has already been in – she has a powerful message. Now Declan Bates is rehearsing on the red dot, and Carrie Clarke and Kirsty Schneeburger have just arrived. The staging is looking great – very simple again, but this year featuring Simon Ripley’s prints.

12:25 Erk… problems with the slide clicker… it needs pressing firmly.

12:30 Alberto Arribas has appeared. Jackie is looking after the speakers as they arrive – they’re all having their photo taken, not least so I can include them in tomorrow’s live blog.

12:50 Been there, done that, and now I have my own T-shirt. And the label is almost as big as the shirt – organic cotton, climate neutral, manufactured using renewable energy, earth positive.

12:55 Tobit, one of the production team, is also doing a small talk. He has some flash slides. And now the organisers are rehearsing their segues between talks… and it’s time to segue into a bite of lunch.

13:20 Ooops, missed Kirsty and Kester’s rehearsals. I’ve been talking to Sara, Sara and Jhenna, the volunteer co-ordinators. One of the biggest challenges of the day is registration – getting the audience into the theatre smoothly, without hold-ups, and creating a good first impression. They have lists and diagrams with different colours, and the words ‘military precision’ spring to mind. The only thing missing is the table with the model ships and the poles to push them around.

13:45 Hazel is up now. She wanted to rehearse her introduction too, so we just gave her a rousing round of applause. The TR14ers are her babies, and are just practising their dances across the road.

13:50 Rebecca Maze has arrived with her guitars. Last year she was ill on the day, so we showed her Transition song video, and are very happy to give her a second chance.

13:55 … and here come Shanna and the TR14ers, in fab T-shirts with questions on the back. There’s a theme developing here…

14:15 Wow, that was exciting and full of energy! Rebecca’s turn now, tuned up and ready to go.

14:30 It’s dark in here. Peter Owen-Jones is around somewhere, and someone just said “Hello Jo” – Berry or Royle?

14:35 The lights are back up, the “Jo” has gone, Peter has done a confessional sound-check, in his hat of course, and Matt Harvey is trying to break the system.

15:00 We’ve had a bit of a hiatus, so I’ve taken the opportunity to wander around backstage, poking around the parts of the theatre you generally don’t get to visit. I just squashed my nose up against the door to the Quiet-Room-to-be, where the volunteers are having their health & safety briefing, and looking rapt. Backstage, there are nooks and crannies, and lots of computers and screens, and doors through to dark spaces and ladders and more doors. I always assumed the sound and lighting box at the back of the auditorium had glass in its windows, but it doesn’t. I wasn’t the only one to think that either. It’s funny how sometimes you don’t see things properly.

15:05 Jo Berry it was, and Jo Royle has also appeared.

15:10 These rehearsals are really important to get the sound right, and check any slides and videos. Some of the speakers want to run through their whole talk, others are just happy to do a sound check. But they can all get familiar with the head mic, the space of the stage, having a bright light shone in the eyes so they can’t see the audience, and having a count-down clock in front of them. And so I hope you have more of a picture of what is involved in putting the event on, and what it means for the speakers to be down there on the red dot. There are still a few speakers to go, but until tomorrow this is me over and out.