Technical theatre students secure roles in North West's biggest productions
University of Salford students are making waves backstage in theatres across the North West after working in some of the biggest productions on stage and training up the next generation of talent.
After two years of lowered curtains in theatres across the country, our third year BA Technical Theatre students have been making their mark by getting involved in some of the North West’s biggest productions including The Time Traveller’s Wife at Chester Storyhouse and The Lion King at Manchester’s Palace Theatre.
Using their experience in a variety of skillsets, including stage lighting and prop design, a number of our students are successfully deploying these skills to a range of audiences and preparing for a career in this competitive industry.
Abigail Peacock is one who after putting her lighting and sound production skills to the test at a number of productions at Salford Arts Theatre and working across 19 venues for five weeks at the Edinburgh Fringe festival this summer, has landed a role as a casual technician with the Ambassador Theatre Group’s (ATG) Manchester team and is currently working with the props team during the highly anticipated Lion King run.
She said: “The Lion King is such an amazing show to be working on. I’m working with the props team which involves a lot of running around and making sure actors have the props when they need them. I’m constantly on the move and at times I have to learn on the spot but I really like the challenge.
“It’s been so interesting going from community-based theatre where I learnt about running the lighting desk completely from scratch and having a really critical role in the production to now being backstage during large theatrical performances.
“After two years of the pandemic, I am just trying to get as much as experience as I can and now a career in the industry feels more tangible than ever before and even though I’m working six nights out of seven, this role really allows to me fit my studies around it.”
Abigail is also taking the time to pass on her knowledge for the next generation of students at Salford Arts Theatre by filming tutorial videos for the crew on mastering the lighting desk.
Alfie Innes, a fellow third-year student, has just completed a three-week placement on The Time Traveller’s Wife, which was having its world premiere in Chester before moving on to London’s West End.
It meant working with internationally-acclaimed lighting designer Lucy Carter who supported Alfie whilst he worked on the lighting for the show.
He said: “I quite liked a lot of Lucy’s work and it was great that I ended up working with someone that I had aspired to work with and looked up to. I felt the course prepared for the role as the crew quickly realised I could use the software and was fluent in the language of lighting.
“I felt increasingly at home in the work I was doing and on the first night when my name showed up in the production credits, I realised that I was part of something special. It was very surreal.
“The experience has definitely showed me that freelance lighting design is a post-graduate option that I would be confident in my ability to do. I’m so grateful for the connections that I’ve made which I wouldn’t have got without being on this course.”
The course is also upskilling our students to bring their talents to the classroom as well as backstage and Alex Jacklin has been actively teaching students at Loreto College in Manchester as a theatre technician. Whether its his weekly enrichment class or giving one-to-one support for those studying lighting design at A-Level, Alex says he is putting his course skills to use in a rewarding way.
“I wanted to go down the educational route in my career as I enjoy seeing the impact that teaching can have on a young person’s life. I’m really enjoying it as it’s a lot of practical teaching which has been very similar to what I’ve been doing at university as it’s very design-based.
“I was so lucky to get this opportunity and it has made me enjoy my university experience even more with also the benefit of having ten months’ experience in my back pocket when it comes to graduating.”
Dr Kelli Zezulka, Lecturer in Technical Theatre said: “Our students have been exemplary in putting the skills that they have learnt over the last two years and more into practice in both performance and teaching settings.
“After two years of teaching that has been impacted by factors outside of their control, it is a testament to their drive and determination that they are securing high quality placements and employment through our strong partnerships in the sector to further their studies and put them in a strong position to forge a career within the industry once they graduate.”
For more information about our BA Technical Theatre course, click here.
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