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Designer and lecturer Tina Bicat: ‘Design students need practical, technical skills to support their creative work’

Tina Bicat. Photo: Ellen Brooker Tina Bicat. Photo: Ellen Brooker
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How did you start off in theatre?

In the National Youth Theatre run by Michael Croft – a wonderful introduction to life in the theatre. After a season there, you really knew if that was the world you wanted to work in.

What is your best advice for students with an interest in technical roles today?

Try every backstage job you can wangle your way into. See what you love most and go for it as bravely and wholeheartedly as you can. Watch, listen and learn from everyone around you, whether you agree with them or not.

What would you change about training in the UK?

All students studying design – lighting, sound and visual – need practical, technical skill to support their creative work. Apart from these skills being transferable if their future interests and opportunities change, they will have the ability to explain and make their ideas happen as they want the audience to experience them.

What is the best part of your job?

Inventing with directors, actors, students and my fellow designers and technicians. Seeing someone I’ve taught working happily and successfully in our profession.

And your least favourite?

Negative presences in a production meeting.

Which practitioners do you admire most?

All the hundreds of practitioners who do it better than I do.

What is the one skill that every successful theatre professional should have?


Why should students choose a backstage career?

Where else could you catch an idea and work with other like-minded people to create a whole world to support it with words, movement, sets, costumes, projection, puppets, light and sound? And then give it to an audience who have chosen to come and see it? Then you can do it all again with another idea… and another… and another.

Tina Bicat was talking to John Byrne

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