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Getting into backstage theatre

 31 January 2011

Diane Prentice, of the Wales Millennium Centre, spoke about how she got into technical theatre. Two of her Creative Apprentices described their new pathways into backstage work.

The university route to a backstage career

Diane Prentice, Deputy Technical Head

"I did a BTEC National in performing arts when I was younger, deliberately to do the technical side of it. When I graduated from that, I tried desperately to get into theatre just with that qualification. Because it's such a practical job, I thought I'd be able to work my way up.

"I worked for a couple of years for free, and doing little jobs here and there in local theatres, but it wasn't going anywhere and it got to the point where I needed to earn some money.

"I was working in a full-time job and then going to the theatre in the evening, but something's got to give at some point. So the only way I could find to get in was to go to university and do a degree in stage management.

"I know that it's a practical job, so I know that you don't need pieces of paper to be able to do it.

"At the point at which I'd finished my BTEC National and was trying to get work in theatres, I would have loved for there to have been an apprenticeship that I could have gone into - to get those contacts and to get out there a little bit more - without the expense of going to university."

Creative apprenticeships for backstage careers

Technical Theatre Creative Apprentices

"I would have loved for an apprenticeship - to get those contacts and to get out there a bit more - without the expense of going to university."

Joe Theobold
"I started off acting when I was younger, and did backstage on one of the shows and decided that's what I wanted to do.

"I went to college and did a course and then went to uni, but I didn't enjoy the course so I saw this apprenticeship and went for that."

Karly Hill
"When I started looking at colleges, there were not many courses that just do the technical side, so I did musical theatre. I've just been working because I thought university wasn't for me.

"It's a quite hard industry to get into, because it's having to know someone, or doing the university route, but then the courses are few and far between. And sometimes they're more specialised, so you'd have to go in and do lighting, you couldn't go in and do what we're doing, a year of all of it."

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