Heather Saunderson, technician

 2 August 2012

Heather is a technician at the Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling, Scotland. From scenery to lighting and sound, she is part of a team that makes sure live performances go technically to plan.

"Get some work experience, or start a college course, and work your way into jobs."

Hometown?

I'm originally from Kinross and now living in Stirling, both in Scotland.

What do you do?

I'm a technician at Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling.

What previous jobs have you done? 

My first job was as stage manager for a school show. My first paid job was as a pyrotechnician for Just FX for Classical Spectacular at the Royal Albert Hall. I was still a student at the time.

Whilst I was a student, I worked as an usher at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire). I was a technician at the Pleasance Below during an Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I've worked as a production electrician and assistant technician for our own shows at Macrobert, where I've worked since a few months after I graduated. 

I worked at Asda to help pay for university, and then did temp work until I had enough theatre work to live on.

"In this business, it's all about networking."

What qualifications do you have?

I have a degree in technical and production arts and a HNC in production and technical theatre.

What do you do at work?

Nothing about my work is typical. I work in a receiving house for touring productions, so things vary from day to day.

As a general technician, I work in all aspects from the get in (setting up the set), flying of scenery (setting up moving scenery), rigging lights and sound, operating the show and then tidying it all away again to start again tomorrow.

We also have a cinema, so I've had to learn how to be a projectionist on the job. The day always starts with a good cup of tea, though!

What’s the best thing about your job?

The variety of ideas and people who come through the door. The best thing you can say is that it is never boring. 

At this stage in my career, I am happy where I am. I love being a jack of all trades.

And the worst thing about the job?

The hours can be long, and the pay isn't brilliant. You don't always feel appreciated when you try your best to accommodate people

How can I get into music? 

If you enjoy what you do, go for it. Get some work experience, or start a college course, and work your way into jobs.

In this business, it's all about networking and having the right skills, or just being in the right place at the right time.

It's not always easy, but that's part and parcel of this career.


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