Technical Theatre: Sound, Light and Stage Apprentices

Roundhouse and Sadler’s Wells Theatre have been working in partnership since 2014 to offer apprenticeships in Technical Theatre.  The yearlong apprenticeship offers two young people an opportunity to gain a Level 2 qualification in Technical Theatre: Sound, Light and Stage whilst working as professionals and learning alongside the technical teams in both venues.  We aim to help them develop the skills and knowledge needed at the start of their career working as technicians in the creative industries.

We catch up with Carole and Kurtis, who started on our apprenticeship programme as technicians in January 2017:

What made you want to become a theatre technician?
When I was at college for three years, I wanted to become an actor no matter what. However I started to have doubts about it. My Teacher asked me if I wanted to help out with some backstage work for a dance show. I helped with some backstage work for that show and ended up really enjoying it and wanted to learn more about the backstage world of theatre.
Carole: I love writing music and I wanted to be able to record and mix my own songs as well, so I decided to learn about sound engineering, and from there it just kind of progressed into an interest in technical theatre in general.

Why did you apply for the apprenticeship at the Roundhouse and Sadler’s Wells?
I applied for the apprenticeship at Sadler’s Wells because it’s are one of the biggest theatre company’s in London. I have heard so much positive feedback from people who go there to see a show and I knew I had to apply for it.
Carole: It was a unique opportunity to expand my knowledge and broaden my horizons. The Roundhouse is a venue I’ve loved going to for gigs over the years and it’s amazing to be able to work there now.

What new skills have you learnt?
 I have learnt how to rig up any lights and know how to spot a fault in  lights. I’ve also learnt how to program lights from a lighting desk and how to put cables away safely.
Carole: I have learnt about different aspects of theatre, such as how to use different types of lighting desks, rigging, putting together stages, and I even had the opportunity to do fork lift training, which was really exciting and is a really useful skill to have in the future.

What has been the best part of your apprenticeship up to now?
Learning stuff about what kind of different lights can be used for setting up a show. Being able to solve a problem without asking for help and having so much support from everyone around me.
Carole: I was able to run sound for a small show by myself. It was really difficult as I was using a new desk and was pressed for time, but it taught me a lot and I felt really proud of myself afterwards so it was a great experience.

What are you looking forward to most throughout the next year?
What I am hoping to be able to do by the end of the year is to be able to be fully capable of setting up and programming lights and operating the lights on shows by myself without any help and i’m hoping to see if I can become a technical manager in the future.
Carole: Learning more about everything and getting more experience in different areas, becoming more confident in the work I do and as a part of the team, and of course the Blondie gig coming up soon!

What advice would you give to young people considering an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship will allow you to learn and be able to work at the same time. If you don’t believe that university is for you because you’re not the type of person who wants to sit down and write notes every day and more of an active person then apply for an apprenticeship. If you want to do something in the Arts, but don’t want to do anything that involves performing in front of hundreds of people, then backstage theatre is for you. A lot of people don’t realise that without the backstage crew, there wouldn’t be any shows.
Carole:  If you find one that looks really good, just go for it – opportunities like this can be really hard to find, so it’s a risk worth taking. You get amazing real life experience in a proper working environment, you get treated like an adult (but with a little less pressure), and you learn so much, it’s honestly just an awesome thing to do, especially if you don’t want uni debt!