Wondering how to kickstart a career in theatre? TheatreCraft is a great way to get your foot in the (off-stage) door. 

I enjoyed diving into the world of prop-making during a behind-the-scenes tour at the Royal Opera House, one of Europe’s biggest theatres, and home to TheatreCraft’s epic marketplace.  Everything, from stunning costumes to period props and scenic sets, are made in-house by industry experts. 

The whole design journey starts a year in advance. Craftspeople work alongside designers and directors to transform a theatrical vision into a magical, yet practical, reality on-stage. 

Pinterest is a cool playground for inspiration, where makers can explore all the creative possibilities. Hands-on techniques include carpentry, mould making, painting, glass casting, plastering and metal work. Every day in the workshop is different; you could be welding in the morning and sewing in the afternoon. ‘Outside the box’ design thinking is highly encouraged! 

The Royal Opera House’s shows last forever. After a performance finishes, everything is stored in a state-of-the-art production workshop in Thurrock. Its famous classical ballet performances are often refurbed and revived for the modern stage or put through an international tour. This year’s production of The Sleeping Beauty can be traced back to 1984.

If you’re dead-set on design, keep your portfolio fresh with up-to-date trends and current examples of your work. A top tip is to include a selection of photos that tell the story behind how you make something. Think process, materials, skills – workshop experience is a bonus! Check out the Royal Opera House’s careers page for more information on their apprenticeship scheme and freelance opportunities. It was great to see craft-in-action during one of the many on-stage demonstrations in the Linbury theatre.

Curious about stage technology? TAIT, a global team of engineers, fabricators, producers, and technologists, covered all things scenic art and automation in their interactive workshop. A career in theatre-tech can take you around the world; TAIT’s projects span from London’s West End to Yuen Long Theatre in Hong Kong. Genuine enthusiasm for live performance and willingness to learn on-the-job is the recipe for success.

I hopped over to the Ambassador Lounge at the Lyceum Theatre for an expert session on branding a show, run by AKA… a.k.a. the go-to theatre marketing agency. Account Manager James Leggat shared a full circle moment with everyone in the room. He attended the event seven years ago and was now leading a workshop to inspire talented newcomers – TheatreCraft really opens doors! James has worked on high-profile productions such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Sunset BLVD and Dear England

Marketing involves everything from the posters we see on the tube, to ‘wrapped’ buses advertising a performance, targeted google campaigns, backstage Insta content, Tik Tok soundtracks, reviews in the newspaper and radio interviews. Reading top publications such as The Stage is a great way to stay informed. If you’re aiming for a marketing internship, you may want to start a theatre blog or social media account to show off your digital skills. 

I ended my day with a talk on technical careers. Mike Leopold, Building Manager at the Savoy, encouraged us to get stuck into the thriving world of community theatre as a way of learning new crafts before committing to a specific path in lighting or sound. His final quote neatly summed up the event: “a career in theatre is not a race – enjoy every experience along the way!” Stay connected with your new creative contacts – you never know where TheatreCraft can take you in the exciting world of theatre!

Blog by Sophie O’Sullivan
Photos by Aemelia Taylor & AKA agency

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