Props to the scenic specialists
The following is a sample of the enormous range of services available to the UK entertainment and events industry:
Stagefreight Ltd is a leading specialist event transport company with drivers based in Leeds, Birmingham and London. It services most areas of the UK, as well as long-haul throughout Europe and beyond. Its fleet is well maintained, and all vehicles are fitted with a high-quality tracking system. stagefreight.com
Big House Events is a set design and construction company serving theatre, exhibitions, corporate events and installations, working closely with clients to bridge the gap between creativity and comfort. At the heart of the Big House is a vastly experienced team with a particular flair for the design and construction of lightweight, durable sets for touring. bighouse-events.co.uk
Clockwork Scenery specialises in high-finish, hand-crafted scenery and props for a range of clients and markets, including theatre, art installations, cruise ships, opera, TV, film, events and exhibitions. It works in wood, aluminium, fibre glass, plastics and fabrics, allowing it to react to designer’s requests with creativity and ease. Visit clockworkscenery.com
John Brooking is an established set and costume designer who, with experienced cutter Dawn Evans, has created costumes and props for everything from Shakespeare to pantomime. They founded the wardrobe department at Alton Towers, making costumes for all the park entertainments. johnbrooking.co.uk
Burts Cycles is an independent, family-owned shop established more than a century ago that has supplied cycles and accessories to the film and TV industries for more than 40 years. Not surprisingly, it has a vast knowledge of the history of cycling and can help you choose the correct model for any era or occasion. There is also a workshop on the premises for all repair needs. Visit burtscycles.co.uk
Vale Staging supplies 1 metre by 1 metre ‘revostage’ platforms, manufactured in the UK with UKAS certification, which are 400mm high, with optional shirting and step. They are ideal for outdoor performances, catwalk-style, choir stand and exhibitions, and can be used by churches, colleges, TV and film. Visit valestaging.co.uk
Prompt Side, the digital print specialist, produces bespoke print direct to MDF, plywood and the underside of translucent vinyl flooring, eliminating the risk of scuffing or damage to the print. Other inventive products include printed magnetic wallpaper, self-adhesive vinyl and day-to-night back projection screens, transforming your backdrop simply by switching from front to back lighting. Visit promptside.co.uk
Candle Makers Supplies, Europe’s best stocked source for all candle-making equipment and supplies, has been supplying candle-makers and hobbyists internationally and across the UK since 1969, as well as many other art, craft and hobby products. Visit candlemakers.co.uk
Chromakey Hire will supply all your blue screen and green screen requirements. It can hire out screens from stock or create them to match required sizes and colours. chromakey-hire.com
Chromed Up Ltd supplies chrome effect paint to the spraying industry, as well as gold, brass, bronze and copper effect. It can be applied to any surface, including wood, plaster, metal, glass, fibreglass and carbon fibre. Visit chromed-up.co.uk
Spur Creative Workshop specialises in the manufacture of high-quality props and sculptures, producing bespoke items to the highest quality and attention to detail. Clients include Tate Modern, Harrods, Sky Movies, Bill Kenwright Ltd, Glyndebourne Opera and the Donmar Warehouse. spurcreative.co.uk
Splinter Scenery, based in Oldham, arguably the leading manufacturer of scenery in the North West, specialises in theatrical scenery, especially for touring theatre, serving theatres and production companies all over the country to the highest standards. Splinter prides itself on being able to create all kinds of scenery to the highest production standards. Visit splinterscenery.co.uk
Shoot and Scoot offers a wide variety of prop rubber, from rubber and wooden guns to clothing from 1800 onwards to modern militaria. It can also make large orders of uniform to your requirements. Visit shootandscoot.co.uk
Cardiff Theatrical Services has just finished its busiest and most challenging summer in years, having been working on two commissions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and The Magic Flute for Chicago Lyric Opera. Visit cardifftheatricalservices.co.uk
Stage-Track Engineering Ltd was set up 22 years ago to cater for the growing need for robust and versatile curtain track for use in theatres, schools and village halls. Curtain Tracks uses steel tubular section construction with outside joint plates and ensures high load capacity over greater spans than achieved by conventional tracks. Visit stagetrack.co.uk
Chief Alec Graham (pictured, fourth from left, with team) discusses surviving 20 years in the business…
Tell us about your business.
Splinter is a scenery production workshop based on the outskirts of Manchester, specialising in the manufacture of high-standard touring theatre scenery. Founded nearly 20 years ago, we have the expertise to get your show on budget, on time, on stage.
How did you get started?
More than 20 years ago, having toured as a theatre carpenter and fed up with being away from home, I helped a boat builder friend vacate his workshops and move to the Lake District. Oddly, a production manager rang me, having been let down by someone, to see if I knew of any workshop space. I decided to just take the boat house and build the job myself.
Who are your clients?
A cross-section of production companies (national, regional and West End), theatres without workshops, production managers and touring theatre companies. One of my favourite clients is a circus-act producer. They all require scenery produced to the highest of standards.
What is a typical day’s work for you?
Long, stressful and incredibly unpredictable – you never know what the next phone call or email might yield. But, ultimately, it is an enormous pleasure for me to be able to do something that I am so passionate about.
What sets you apart from the competition?
I don’t see alternative suppliers as competition – no single company could handle everything. We all have similar interests. We are stronger working together and sharing our knowledge and ideas.
What is your greatest achievement?
Still being in business after nearly 20 years; hopefully, that means we have been considered successful by the theatre community.
What are your plans for the future?
To continue to be successful and produce all the good stuff we already produce in the North West. We hope to expand our horizons and are doing good deals on scenery exported to the Caribbean, South America and the Philippines.