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  • Writer's pictureInês Mota

Internship at ESMAE

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

I started this internship at the Department of Props and Sets of Escola Superior de Música e Artes do Espetáculo (ESMAE), Porto, Portugal, in May 2018 after being selected for the position.

What was most striking about returning 2 years after finishing my studies there, was how much a space can change when its inhabitants change. It was definitely strange to be back and see so many new and unfamiliar faces in such familiar surroundings. Having different responsibilities as an intern and a new role within the school was challenging in very a good way.

My role was to organise the workshops, classrooms and storage spaces, watch over the props, tools, materials and equipment, as well as supporting and supervising the construction of set elements. Besides these daily responsibilities, I also helped with a few productions throughout the year.

The first one was a co-production between ESMAE's postgraduate course in opera and Teatro Nacional São João, titled "La Donna di Génio Volubile", in which I assisted Marta Silva, Head of the Set Design Department and my supervisor, with the set design. The comical opera, written by Marcos de Portugal, was staged by António Durães and opened in June 2018. 

At the same time, I was also helping in a massive cleanup and organisation of the main storage space of the Set Design and Props' Department - Fábrica da Rua da Alegria - where the first year students would stage their first production also in June 2018. This process was essential for me to create a visual memory of what existed in the warehouses and be able to perform my duties as responsible for the loan of props.

Another major project of my internship, was the creation of an inventory for all the tools, supplies, and machines in the workshops. It was a laborious process of photographing everything, noting references and organising it all in an worksheet in order to create a comprehensive document easily available to all teachers.

Within the context of the workshops, I also compiled a list of providers with their addresses and contact information; and made safety leaflets aimed to inform the students about the precautions for using the machines, and some recommendations to keep them in good condition. 

On the more creative front I had the opportunity to help the 3rd year acting students with the sets and costumes for their project of Gil Vicente plays for screen. The live streaming of these plays was aired in October 2018.

Later, in January 2019, I assisted Marta Silva again with a set design for the Indie Júnior festival. It consisted of a scenographic installation for the screening of films for babies in the small auditorium of Teatro Municipal Rivoli, Porto. It was all made in light stockings fabric and it was great to see it all come to life and working really well after many Kilometers of sewing.

Towards the end of this internship, some of the last projects I helped with were a Dionysian banquet for the final project of Pedro Domingos Master's thesis; a Post-graduate dance project by Maria Gameiro; the preparations for the celebrations of the 25 years of existence of the Theatre course at ESMAE; and the modelling of two neutral masks, one female and one male, following the Sartori and Lecoq's model.

I took many things from this experience. One of the most valuable to me was the consolidation of the knowledge I acquired during my previous studies there. But the gain of experience and therefore confidence in the construction of sets, in the organisation of work spaces and in the management of different projects simultaneously, definitely left me more prepared to face future challenges. I felt my work was very much appreciated as even before, when I was studying, I always thought the department needed someone to do this work and help everything run more smoothly. I'm very grateful for having had this opportunity and hope many more former students can benefit from it too.

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