AYRSHIRE College has joined forces with Ayr’s Gaiety Theatre and University of the West of Scotland (UWS) to create a one of a kind Technical Theatre programme.
The college is expanding its Technical Theatre courses to become the only college in Scotland offering NC, HNC and HND level Technical Theatre after the success of the HNC course’s inaugural year at the Ayr campus.
Upon successful completion of the HND course, students will be able to join year three of UWS’ unique degree course, which is partly delivered at the Gaiety Theatre.
The Technical Theatre course prepares students for stage management and technical production, as they work with lighting, sound, stage design, set design and construction amongst other event essentials.
Although the course equips students with the necessary skills to gain employment in the theatre industry, the skills learned in Technical Theatre will also allow graduates to pursue a number of other creative pursuits.
Two of the students from this year’s HNC group at Ayrshire College explained what attracted them to the course and how they expect to progress in the industry.
Sam White, 18, from Lesmahagow, said: “I was with a volunteer group working around Glasgow theatres doing basic backstage work for two years, and I wanted to enhance and gain a wider range of skills for backstage use. I felt like this was a great way to do that.
“I definitely feel that I’m more confident in handling the technical aspects of the job, like rigging lights.
“I’ve been talking to the stage manager at the King’s Theatre for a stagehand job, and I’m planning on progressing to the HND course too.
“The phrase technical theatre is a loose term as theatre jobs aren’t that big right now – it’s more the events industry: festivals, concerts – where you can get in, earn some money and have a good time.”
While John Paul Porrelli, 34, from Stewarton, said: “We’ve picked up a lot of skills in sound, lights and stage management. It’s all come together and I believe it will benefit me as I take things forward.
“If you have a passion for theatre, concerts, events, then this will help immeasurably. You’ll learn new skills and how to work with people. You are part of a team and you have to work together to put out a show.
“I’m planning on trying to get a job in the industry and build on my skills.”
Ayrshire College students currently support the performing arts department with the technical aspects of their theatre productions.
Technical Theatre lecturer at Ayrshire College, John Turner, said: “We have a thriving performing arts department here, and we’re now their support network.
“In the past, their students have done everything – the sound, the lights, the sets, etc.
“Now, suddenly, we’ve taken that on for them, which has allowed them to raise the bar on their production values. Technical Theatre has helped enormously.”
Ayrshire College is now accepting students to apply for the Technical Theatre courses for 2016/17.
John explains who should be looking to apply: “We’re giving students the perfect platform to get a job in technical production. There is a major shortage of skilled people in Technical Theatre and we are addressing that with this course.
“I’ve just interviewed a couple of students for next year’s NC course. One comes from an engineering background and the other is a circus skills student who teaches juggling.
“On the one hand, they don’t really know very much about technical theatre, yet they’re exactly the right type of candidates to work in the industry.
“They’ve got a passion for this. It’s that degree of passion what we’re looking for.”
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