Steve Evans, technical production manager
Studying technical production helped Steve Evans to build a successful career both freelance and for high-profile theatres. He discusses his journey and reveals what theatre technicians have in common with ninjas.
I’m form Herefordshire, right on the border with Wales.
What job do you do?
I am deputy head of stage at Hampstead Theatre. I freelanced in technical production for 18 months after leaving college and worked at different theatres, festivals and events.
I also did a season at the Regents’ Park Open Air Theatre during the Olympics, which was awesome. And I did lots of casual work at Hampstead Theatre before being made permanent and getting my current job.
Technical production involves making sure that everything on stage is running smoothly, from set up to set down and from huge moving sets to minimal ones.
What qualifications do you have?
I mainly concentrated on sports in sixth form, and my A-levels were PE, History, Spanish and Drama.
I was spending a lot of my time doing the technical work in local amateur dramatic groups since I knew the basics from school, and was torn between taking that further and doing a sports-related degree.
Knowing how to use AutoCad has been invaluable.
I had a look at what was available through UCAS and found The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (Central). I applied and was accepted for the Stage Management course, but was quickly advised that I was more suited to the Technical Production course.
What did you enjoy about studying?
Central was such an intimate environment. There are so few of you and everyone knows everyone. That is great from a social perspective, but also a good learning opportunity because you get to work with everyone.
You get to be really quite close to your tutors too, which is unbelievably helpful.
How did your course help you professionally?
I had intensive AutoCad training, which is what you use to draw up sets on computers. Knowing how to use that software has been invaluable, and other colleges don’t usually cover it.
Having that knowledge means that I can be fully involved with any project from its inception, rather than just the building and fixing parts.
Technicians are the ninjas of theatre. We get stuff done and disappear.
The other great thing I got to work on in depth was flying – that’s my specialty now as a professional.
The facilities available allowed me to learn how to do it properly. There was a 14 metre fly tower in the embassy and a loading tower too. Getting to grips with these skills on professional level kit was a fantastic opportunity.
What advice would you give for a technical theatre career?
1. Your ego isn't welcome
You’ve got to know from the start that you can’t come into the industry with an ego – you will be caught out right away! Reputations are built in a second and you have to come in with humility and a rock-solid work ethic, just ready to learn the craft.
2. Technicians are the ninjas of theatre
We get stuff done and disappear. The more you get that into your head, the better you’ll get on.
3. Make sure your college or uni can give you contacts
Central was a great place to learn and amazing at helping me to make contacts for future work opportunities.
A lot of the work I got after leaving was through contacts facilitated by the school and the placements I had done while still a student.