Safi studied his MSc. Engineering, Technology and Business Management degree at the University of Leeds and graduated in 2015.
I joined Backstage Society in October 2014, having arrived at Leeds Uni for my masters degree. For the next 15 months, I crewed over 15 shows; working primarily on sound, I tried my hand at every other department in some capacity. Starting out as a newbie, I moved through the ranks by crewing as Sound Engineer and finally being responsible for two shows as a Sound Designer. I sincerely believe sound is one of the most important elements of any show; in the end, you augment the audience’s experience with what they hear and how they remember it, as they walk out humming show-tunes. I enjoyed the thrill of live-mixing every night; tracking the instruments being played, the cast mic-changes, the sound effects, balancing the band and cast so neither drowns out the other, and the inevitable scurrying to fix feedback loops. At the end of the show, if no one mentions the sound – job well done; you’ve made it sound as natural as possible to your listeners.
“…by end of my degree, I was an Opera-fiend, a Musical-fanatic, a Dance-enthusiast.”
As an active member of 3 societies during my time at Leeds Uni (was on the managing committee for one), my most unique experience came from Backstage Society; I made new friends for life here. You will be greeted by the friendliest people on campus; a close-knit family that makes an efficient crack-team crewing multiple shows over the year. I was never into musicals or plays or performance acts of any kind; by end of my degree, I was an Opera-fiend, a Musical-fanatic, a Dance-enthusiast. With just the sheer amount of people you meet; every show different from the other, over 30 different societies to work with, socials every show night, the house parties, the show meetings and prep-load ins, you are guaranteed to learn something and make new friends, every time you walk into the hallowed venue that is the Riley Smith Hall.
“You could crew every night every show, do only two a semester or just help out whenever possible and attend the socials.”
The most convenient thing with Backstage is, unlike other societies, you can choose exactly how much you want to contribute and commit to. You could crew every night every show, do only two a semester or just help out whenever possible and attend the socials. It helped me forget my dissertation blues as soon as I walked in, and by the time I left, I would still be laughing at a Backstage pun someone made, or just feeling great about how lifelike the fireplace I helped paint looked (turns out I CAN colour in the lines). It was here I learnt really useful life-skills (power-drill? Completed it mate), came to appreciate the performing arts (went on to see Phantom of The Opera at the West End with Backstage – wow), picked up on soundie-skills (with help from the most patient and forgiving members) and came away with some of the best memories of my uni life (“sleeping over” in a make-shift tent in one of the dressing rooms, during a 24-Hr Improvathon for charity).
I sincerely hope you enjoy your stint with Backstage and have as a passionate experience as I did. And then, I’ll see you at the 25thAnniversary Reunion! Balti King for Life!
By Safi Farooqui
Posted on 12th September 2016