Students stage emergency drill at Melton Theatre

Performing arts students got some valuable acting practice when they helped firefighters stage a fire drill ahead of the reopening of Melton Theatre.

By Nick Rennie
Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 2:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 2:14 pm
Some of the students who helped firefighters with an emergency incident drill at Melton Theatre
Some of the students who helped firefighters with an emergency incident drill at Melton Theatre

The youngsters posed as distraught, injured and emotional casualties to simulate what would happen in an emergency incident at the Asfordby Road venue.

It involved realistic events such as the lights going out in the theatre, fake bodies being strewn across the seating and floors, smoke in the corridors, and simulated CPR activities.

Some students pretended to be incapacitated and being stuck inside the building, others were instructed to be as disruptive as possible, and one even acted as a distraught mother with a young baby.

There contributions were complimented by the fire crew members from Melton Mowbray, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire for being ‘highly realistic’ casualties.

The college’s Uniformed Public Services students were also in attendance to observe the firefighters’ real-time reaction to being called out to an ‘emergency’ – giving the students a detailed understanding of what is required as a member of the service.

One of them, Liam, who is hoping to go in to the fire service after college, said: ‘It was great to see how the Uniformed Services operate and the speed needed in responding to incidents.

"We saw the importance of moving quickly and staying calm – the last thing to do is panic in situations like this.

"I also liked seeing how the fire service worked to keep the casualties under control, and it was really interesting to see them using their kit during the simulated fire.”

Arnie Breen, Melton Theatre’s manager and section manager for performing arts at SMB College Group, added: “It was vital that we conducted this exercise due to the theatre being closed for so long and the process of reopening we are currently going through.

‘The students enjoyed the whole experience and it gave them all the opportunity to stretch their acting muscles.

"The fire brigade were ultra-professional and treated the whole exercise seriously and it gave us, as staff, a realistic view of what this type of evacuation would be like.

“Obviously we hope we never have to do this in real life, but this exercise has given us some very valuable lessons as we slowly re-open Melton Theatre to the general public.”

The 340-seat theatre is not only a fantastic resource for the college’s performing arts students, but is also a commercial venue which hosts a wide variety of shows - from college performances to musicals, pantomimes, comedy and much more.

It was closed at the start of the pandemic, due to restrictions on public gatherings.

A major renovations and refurbishment programme has been carried out there while it has been closed for the last two years.

Among the upgrades are air conditioning and heating in the auditorium and emergency lighting in the whole building, with other features including new fire backstage doors backstage and redecorated dressing rooms.

The first shows back will be the Level 3 Performing Arts shows this month and the first commercial event, the ‘Bon Jovi Experience’, in July.