SW Voices: Diana Sam

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, we talk to Diana Sam to find out about her experience working as our Technical Apprentice.

Since 2014, Sadler’s Wells and the Roundhouse have partnered to offer two full-time, paid apprenticeships in technical theatre (sound, light and stage) per year. Apprentices split their time between the two organisations to complete a Level 3 Creative Venue Technician apprenticeship standard, developing a variety of backstage skills and production knowledge.

Hello, Diana. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a huge music lover. I literally listen to any genre, from drum and bass  straight to drill, grime, classical and jazz. I generally love the arts and the variety of different art forms there are. I’m also a drummer and play a bit of keys .

How did you find out about the apprenticeship opportunity? Is there anything in particular about Sadler’s Wells and the Roundhouse that made you want to apply for it?

I found out about the apprenticeship through Art Jobs, as it is ‘The hub’ when it comes to looking for a job within the creative industries. What I really adore about the two organisations is that they are both very different, but quite similar in some aspects. They are both performance-based venues, but the Roundhouse focuses primarily on music, whereas Sadler’s Wells focuses on contemporary dance.

The radiant visuals in terms of light and staging that both venues are able to produce and show to the public are really what made me to want to apply for the apprenticeship.

What does your apprenticeship involve day-to-day?

It involves many things and each day is different. I’m always learning something new. If I’m doing a get in, then the day involves a lot of setting up and preparation for the show, while on show nights it’s more about observing and bringing in and out props that are needed for specific acts.

What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?

I really enjoy the setting up of a production, being able to be involved in the making of a great show. Knowing that you were a part of it is an awesome feeling.

Have you encountered any challenges?

Getting used to the different terminology used on stage, as there were some terms I had never heard of before – that was a bit of a challenge!

How do you feel the apprenticeship opportunity is benefiting your professional development?

It is benefiting my professional development in so many ways. In particular, it’s been helping me to become more confident, and to improve my problem solving skills.

“Working backstage in theatre requires taught technical skills of course, but we also look for real hands-on experience, a proper understanding of how to work in a team, how to work under tight time pressures, and how to work with artists and performers,” says Emma Wilson, our Director of Technical & Production.

“Learning on the job as an apprentice is a fantastic route into professional theatre, giving the individual a real depth of knowledge and understanding, and proven practical skills. As an employer we value this route into professional work very highly, regard those who have completed their apprenticeship with great respect and are confident that they will be ready to work in one of the largest theatres in the UK.

We also benefit greatly from having an apprentice working alongside us. It gives us the opportunity to constantly examine our own processes and procedures, and to change and improve as we guide their learning. Our technicians also benefit personally, we find they are keen to share their skills and knowledge with someone new and eager to learn, the atmosphere is positive and forward-looking. It’s great to have someone new on the team asking questions, wanting to learn, excited about their future.”

Read more from technical theatre apprentice Sophie, currently working at the Roundhouse, here.