Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously-running theatre in the UK, established in 1946 as a breakaway from the Old Vic in London. It is easily the most famous theatre in Bristol and houses a theatre school to encourage new talent alongside all of its current and future productions. It has recently undergone a £12million redevelopment, publicly funded by Arts Council England and Bristol City Council.
The Old Vic theatre prides itself as being “led by artists who see the world with distinctive clarity and whose ability to articulate what they see allows us to understand and engage with our world afresh”. This is a notable company in Bristol and not one I have ever been involved with previously; my extent of the venue was working as a runner for the 2012 RTS Awards in February 2013.
Theatre isn’t necessarily the first thought of jobs when taking a filmmaking based degree, but in my case I come from a theatre background. I was previously employed by North Somerset Council as a Media & A/V Technician, and have since taken up a similar role for two summers at Timber Lake Camp in New York. I am used to live events and have a love for the atmosphere of working in the pressures of a live theatrical performance.
The reason why the Old Vic stood out in particular was because of an advert I found on http://www.theatrebristol.net (despite being majorly expired). The job was seeking a lighting and sound technician, I would feel extremely comfortable in this role as it sounds exactly like my role for North Somerset Council.
I get the impression this type of job (or any involved with the crew) would require the common traits of confidence, enthusiasm, and highly social as many jobs in media sector request. However as this is a theatre specific job the emphasis would be on live lighting and sound equipment as opposed to camera and film set operations. Approaching the theatre solely from a film background would see changes by the fact it is a continuously flowing live product rather than several takes and “fix it in post”. You would also have to maintain a broader knowledge of sound and lighting, dabbling in electronics for basic repairs to equipment as a minimum. As every theatre is different it would be the case of learning on the job, often it’s working on a shoestring budget so fixing and maintaing equipment would be key.
Some typical requirements of a technician include:
- Smooth running of technical aspects of theatre
- Organise and set equipment rigging
- Operate sound, lighting, other effects during performances
- Furnish rehearsals
- Maintain proper health and safety
- Carry out PAT tests of equipment
- Attend production meetings
- Order new technical equipment
This is one job I feel I could quite happily walk into tomorrow and comfortably work. I have been brought up in this environment which spurred my interest in film production, it is the perfect combination of technical and creative mindsets. In order to make myself the best possible candidate I could definitely do with advancing my skills of live sound as I am specialising further in the visual mediums so worry my knowledge in audio will start to become outdated. Another improvement would be gaining knowledge as an electrician for fixing equipment where appropriate, I currently feel confident in fixing stage equipment but there are always areas to improve. I would definitely like to get involved with the Old Vic as it is a central hub in live performance. The current contacts for production and operations are: Jason Barnes (Director of Production and Operations), Becky Davies (Assistant to Director of Production and Operations), Aidan Woodburn (Operations Manager), James Lane (House Manager), Tim Streader (Chief Electrician), Ruth Sidery (Company Stage Manager), Jay Costello (Senior Technician Studios), James Molyneux (Head Of Stage), Jon Everett (Senior Technician Sound/AV), Arthur Newton (Technician Stage).