Production arts teacher Marc Fairclough: ‘It is such a male-dominated industry – it’s time that changed’
How did you start off in theatre?
I’ve been involved in theatre since I was seven. I studied drama at college, then took a higher national diploma at university. I have worked at various theatres as a production manager, show director, event manager, set builder, sound and lighting designer, and have been a technician and teacher at several colleges.
What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?
Try everything. There’s no rush to specialise, the industry is always changing. The skills you pick up in one area often end up applying to another.
What would you change about training in the UK?
I want to make people aware that production arts is a profession available to any gender. It is such a male-dominated industry and it’s time that changed. I would also shift the focus of training more towards practical work and real experience. Theory is important, but being able to go out into the industry with confidence is the real aim.
What is the best part of your job?
Meeting up with former students and seeing what they’re doing now. It’s rewarding watching students develop during their course, but being able to see them succeed in their chosen industry really takes that to the next level.
And your least favourite?
Paperwork. I am dyslexic, so it’s something that I have always had to work harder at.
Who are the practitioners students should be looking up to?
There isn’t one ‘go to’ name. Instead I advise students to look at lighting at events, companies and shows. That way they can see how it works for the audience and how everything ties together.
What is the one skill that every successful theatre professional should have?
Having a passion for the subject will help you keep focused on your goals and perseverance will make sure you’ll get there. A level of tenacity is needed in the theatre world. It’s not so much about being there at the right place and the right time as putting yourself out there.
Marc Fairclough is head of production arts at City College, Southampton. He was talking to John Byrne
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