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Performing arts technical tutor Tracy Thompson: ‘Be honest about what you know. It saves embarrassment and reduces risk’

Tracy Thompson Tracy Thompson
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How did you start off in theatre?

While studying psychology I joined the drama society. I then did a foundation degree in technical theatre before gaining a work placement with a children’s theatre company.

What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?

As an acting student, have a good appreciation of the technical side, especially how long things take. You will then have more patience during technical rehearsals, respect costumes and props and better understand how technical elements enhance your performance.

What would you change about training?

Accessibility. Some of our students don’t have the means to pay for drama school auditions or travel around the country for them.

What is the best part of your job?

Seeing progression. I took four students to Derby Theatre to operate a performance. While giving them cues as they were ‘standing by’ and operating beautifully, I realised they didn’t know how to do that a couple of months ago.

And your least favourite?

Tidying up after our drama students. They are a talented bunch, but sure do make a mess.

Who are the practitioners you admire the most or who should students look up to?

Smaller touring companies that work with little budget to produce something amazing.

What is the one skill that every successful technician should have?

Honesty about what they do and don’t know. Being honest and taking the time to be taught not only saves embarrassment when you may ultimately have to ask for help anyway, but also means there is no jeopardy to anyone’s safety.

What is having the biggest impact on drama and technical theatre study today?

Many schools are starting to drop performing arts and drama qualifications. This has a huge effect on backstage and design interests, as this is not something that can necessarily be picked up from simply watching a performance.

Tracy Thompson (Nottingham Bilborough College performing arts technical assistant) was talking to John Byrne

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