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.
The idea of working in theatre and live events is something I am playing around with. I have always been intent on working in film or television production, but this year I am starting to sway back to my roots as a Media & A/V Technician for North Somerset Council and my experience with Timber Lake Camp. I’m used to live events and love the atmosphere of working in the pressures of them.
In the past I have seen jobs advertised for the venue through Theatre Bristol. At the time of advertising I was not interested in finding a full time job due to university, but it is still food for thought. One of the jobs advertised was looking for someone with skills as a lighting and sound technician.
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
I feel I could walk into this type of job and comfortably undertake the work. I’ve been brought up in this environment, its what spurred my interest in film production, a combination of technical and creative mindsets. The fact I’ve just come out of another contract with Timber Lake Camp for a similar job keeps this field of work as a career prospect. It may be worth seeking additional electrical knowledge to make myself a better candidate for the company, this could be useful for maintenance of equipment.
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).