Apprentice turned Swing Technician Amie Salmon gives ThisIsIt! a behind the scenes look at working in Technical Theatre for Fairfield Halls. If you’re interested in writing for ThisIsIt! drop Izzy an email to get involved.
Since my apprenticeship at Fairfield Halls in Croydon has ended I have found myself gaining even more new skills. I entered the industry with little (if not minimal) experience, but with an eagerness to learn. When I ‘graduated’ to freelance status, I was exposed to roles on shows that weren’t offered to me before. This was either due to lack of experience and/or knowledge, or my apprentice duties taking up much of my time.
I was always reluctant to take shifts as a dresser, being the only girl permanently in the team I felt I should fight against stereotypes.
Recently, we had two of our biggest shows of the year in: Blood Brothers and Dreamboats & Miniskirts. Aside from being part of the crew on the In and Out, my show duties for the former was as a dresser, and for the latter I was part of the stage crew. Both positions were new to me, although I had observed the roles being fulfilled by others. I was always reluctant to take shifts as a dresser, being the only girl permanently in the team I felt I should fight against stereotypes. The week as dresser however turned out to be one of my favourite weeks during my time at Fairfield. My first task was on laundry duty, which including drying and ironing (something I was sure wouldn’t be a strength). I would then complete my pre-show tasks, collecting items from the dressing room and setting outfits backstage. During the show I followed a cue-sheet to help cast members in and out of pre-set costumes, and giving or taking prop items. After the show I would collect laundry from dressing rooms to be washed for the next day’s shows.
Both of these roles involved a lot of interaction with the show crew, and the cast, adding even more value to the whole experience.
On Dreamboats & Miniskirts as part of the stage crew my responsibilities included: sweeping and mopping the stage before the cast warm-up and pre-setting various pieces of set and props before the start of the show. During the show I followed another list of cues with live scene changes and pre-setting for Act 2.
My time in both positions on stage reminded me of what I used to think working in Technical Theatre would be like.
Both of these roles involved a lot of interaction with the show crew, and the cast, adding even more value to the whole experience. I especially enjoyed the time I spent with my kind, patient and fun wardrobe team, David and Bernie. My time in both positions on stage reminded me of what I used to think working in Technical Theatre would be like. Not only did it rejuvenate me, but it also made me grateful for my previous experience as I now have a greater appreciation and knowledge for the work that goes in to putting a production on stage. There’s a huge team, not all of which are part of the whole process. None, or very few, of whom (if we’re doing things correctly) are seen by the audience.
After many years searching, I do finally believe I found a place in an industry
After finishing the above shows, I started my newly made permanent position at Fairfield as Swing Technician, a job I share with a fellow ex-apprentice Ryan Skelly. After many years searching, I do finally believe I found a place in an industry I not only enjoy, but perhaps can succeed in.
Amie Salmon is a Swing Technician working backstage at Fairfield Halls in Croydon. Aside from her obvious love for the theatre and other live entertainment, she enjoys getting engrossed in a good book or television show. Occasionally she writes a bit too. One of her proudest moments, thanks to her apprenticeship, was being part of a panel at the Women of The World conference at Southbank.