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A Theatre Career Behind the Scenes

Image of empty stage lit up with blue lights
Up in lights - sound production

A year of full-time study and hands-on experience is creating multi-skilled theatre technicians who can take their pick of careers in the live production industry.

Students of the Diploma of Live Production and Technical Services hone their skills in lighting, sound design, stage management, vision systems, set and prop design and making – everything that makes a stage show come to life.

And they often surprise themselves along the way.

Dramatic Arts program lead Rob Hails says some students come on board saying they are really keen about lighting and they might find they are really good at sound instead and change their plans.

Others might stick with their lighting interest and take the opportunity to spend more time on that aspect when they work on shows.

Taste of everything

The students are given a taste of everything and so graduate being skilled in everything.

The students’ work at the Prahran campus is geared around putting on events or productions throughout the year and they do that by supporting other areas in the dramatic arts.

Melbourne Polytechnic students in theatre arts and music performance put on shows and the technical students do all the support, the lighting, the sound, the stage, working with costume and make-up students as well.

‘We tend to become a big theatre company when we do shows, all groups of students work on a show to support each other,’ Rob says.

There are two major theatre arts productions a year, in the David Williamson Theatre at the Prahran campus. This year they are on June 20, 21 and 22, and November 7, 8 and 9.

Live production students also do their own show called After Dark in September - an installation-type event, showing off their lighting, sound and vision systems.

Real world experience

And every week on a Wednesday the live production students support the music performance students with their afternoon Performance Platform in the theatre, where they perform to staff and fellow students for assessment every week.

‘The live production students do lighting, sound, stage management and vision for it every week and we also send a small group of live production students out on a rotating basis to our Fairfield campus on a Friday because the Performance Platform happens on a Friday there,’ Rob says.

‘When students graduate, they are well equipped to work in small theatres, larger theatres, and events, because there’s always work in events, just about every weekend across the entire year around the country there are events.

‘The events companies are looking more and more for workers who are trained.’

Local, national, international 

Live Production and Technical Services graduates can go on to work at the Arts Centre, Malthouse, theatre companies, fringe festival, comedy festival, other festivals around town, the National Institute of Circus Arts, the possibilities are endless.

‘They very rarely get one job, the way the industry works is you’ve got to be prepared to do lots of different jobs,’ Rob says.

Some graduates are even contracted as theatre technicians at the David Williamson Theatre. ‘We hire the theatre out on weekends and holidays and our students, because they know the theatre back to front, are hired as technicians to support the hirers,’ Rob says.

No experience is required to do the diploma and students are a mix of straight out of high school, mature age career changers and people with some experience or a passion for putting on a show.

Find out more about Live Production and Technical Services here.