Issue date: Tue 28 February 2017
An exciting new job scheme for graduates has proved a great success half way through its first year at Greenwich Theatre.
The salaried full-time post was created in the theatre’s technical department as part of the shift in focus during last year’s refurbishment and building the new studio space.
“When we created the studio as part of the refurbishment we realised it was a great time not only to provide something more for our audience but also to add something to our approach as an employer,” said James Haddrell, the theatre’s artistic and executive director.
“So we restructured our technical department with this brand new post. We now offer a one-year graduate technical theatre position and the first incumbent, Lizzy Gunby, has been just fantastic.
“The idea is that there will always be a position here for someone who has just graduated. When Lizzy’s year ends we will support her in looking for her next position in the industry and then hire another graduate into the post.”
The job is specifically attached to the studio. The graduate has the opportunity to effectively act as technical manager for the space and to work with all the companies that come through the theatre, making important contacts for the future.
“Lizzy spent the Christmas period working with a large team on the pantomime and now she is back in her own domain, which is the studio. She provided lighting design for Gazing At A Distant Star, and also stage managed the production, developing a range of new skills” said James.
“We already have a national reputation for supporting emerging companies and I’m really proud that we are now involved in the professional development of graduates who want to make their way in this industry.”
Twenty-two-year-old Lizzy, from Leeds, had been working as a casual at Greenwich Theatre while at university and applied for the new job as soon as she heard about it. “I was really excited and I think I screamed down the phone when I heard that I’d got it,” she said.
“It means such a lot to me because it means you’re working and learning every day and you hear about other opportunities. It would probably have been a struggle to have graduated and gone freelance straight away. A lot of my friends tend to be out of touch with the industry.
“I started in August, so I’m already half way through. It’s gone really well, it’s been an absolute whirlwind so far. It seemed as if the panto was miles away working up to it with the team, but it’s happened really quickly.
“I’ve realised I’ve got skills I didn’t know I had until I worked here. I’m a trained lighting designer but I have developed skills in construction, sound design and operation, and stage management since taking on this post. I feel much more able to contribute to the technical running of a theatre than I was just six months ago.”
“With all that I’ve learnt lighting is still my main focus, but my ambitions aren’t really around designing lighting in the West End – I much prefer the challenge of non-traditional theatre spaces which is why the studio is such a pleasure to work in.”