Cruze Foggo, apprentice scenic metalworker

 21 July 2015

Cruze started out studying a technical theatre course and working part time with metal in his family's business. After college, he was able to combine his love of theatre and metalwork by doing an apprenticeship as a scenic metalworker with The Royal Opera House.

"Some of the sets we build are huge and involve thousands of lengths of steel." (Image by Royal Opera House photographer Sim Canetty-Clarke)

What job do you do?

I am an apprentice scenic metalworker at The Royal Opera House Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop.  

It's satisfying to see something that I built on stage at The Royal Opera House.

The production workshop is based at High House Production Park in Purfleet. 

The Royal Opera House produces some of the world’s best ballets and operas and stages them at their venue in Covent Garden in London.

Most shows are built from the ground up at the production workshop and are generally built from materials such as steel and aluminum because they are fairly strong.

What's an average day as a scenic metalworker?

An average day for me could include receiving a drawing for a piece of scenery for the next ballet or opera show and then turning that drawing into a reality.

I do this by using techniques that I have learned and by also using the various tools that are in the workshop. The main tools I use are welders, grinders and band saws.

These tools, coupled with a bit of engineering, maths, precision and patience, all come together to help finish the scenery to the highest of standards.

What did you do before this?

I undertook a Level 3 Technical Theatre course for two years with South Essex College in cooperation with The Backstage Centre, also based at High House Production Park in Purfleet.

The course is based at The Backstage Centre because you get the opportunity to work with real events every day.

I always had an interest in live events and theatre, and this course covered all the aspects to do with the industry.

While attending college, I also worked two days a week at my family's own business, Lakeside Containers Services. It was here I stumbled into metalwork, helping convert and repair shipping containers.

The Royal Opera House apprenticeship was a perfect opportunity for me as it fused my love of metalwork and theatre together and opened up a door into this industry.

What did you get out of your experience at The Backstage Centre?

Through those involved at The Backstage Centre, I gained tonnes of industry knowledge, work experience and contacts. 

The reason the course is based there is because you get the opportunity to work with real events every day, as you are on site at a real venue.

This means that I also got to have a hands-on experience with the lighting, sound and rigging equipment that is in current use today.

What's the best thing about your job?

The fact that I get to work as part of one of the best scenery building teams around is the best thing.

Every day is different and poses new challenges, and it's incredibly satisfying to see something that I built on stage at The Royal Opera House.

I'm proud to say that I work for The Royal Opera House and it always impresses people when they ask me what I do!

What's the worst thing about your job?

Some of the sets we build are huge and literally involve thousands of lengths of steel.

It was perfect as it fused my love of metalwork and theatre. 

Sometimes, I'm unfortunate enough to be handed the cutting list for all the drawings.  

When that happens it's likely I'll be standing at the saw for the next few days cutting one piece at a time.

What do you want to do next?

Hopefully, using the skills I have learned at The Royal Opera House, I can move closer to the stage and start working towards becoming a stage engineer for a theatre or venue.

How do I work backstage?

The best way is to definitely start with a technical theatre course.

This way you will always have the proper qualification and you can find your role in the industry, as the course covers all bases.

You are also guaranteed to meet valuable contacts that you can use to get your foot in the door and make your face known.


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