Youth Tech Team 2022 course stars take centre stage

Course

Theatre needs talent backstage, just not on it. That’s why we run our free Youth Tech Team project, giving 14-21-year-olds the chance to learn more about set-up skills for music events and performances.

A 2007 Creative and Cultural Skills report said there’d be a damaging shortage of trained technicians by 2017 unless the theatre and music section could recruit 30,000 new staff in the next decade.

It was right, with venues currently facing unprecedented hiring shortages. So if you’re interested in working in either section, now’s a good time to learn the skills you need. 

Applications for our 2023 Youth Tech Team project are now open. Here’s what last year’s participants had to say when I caught up with them ahead of our Unsigned Live gig.

Suzie Porter, Ella Thompson-Reed, Thomas Grimmer and Cian Daynes all took part in this free course provided by us and the Young Norfolk Arts Trust.

As well as weekly training sessions, participants also get hands-on experience. This year the quartet helped set up the Young Norfolk Arts Festival’s Lost Rivers Stage at last weekend’s Lord Mayor Celebrations. They’re also helping with tomorrow’s Unsigned Live gig at The Waterfront Norwich.

Suzie took the course because she wanted to do set design for theatre.

She said: “I thought it’d be good to have some knowledge of the practical side but now I’m enjoying doing the actual tech and setting stuff up more than I enjoy design. We set up a PA system and leant all the parts for it, what order they go in. We did the same for the lighting.

“I’ve learnt a lot and it’s been a lot of fun. I’m doing my A-Levels, but I might look into enrolling in more practical courses.”

Ella heard about the course from her mum.

She said: “I thought it’d be quite a helpful thing for the future. I know a lot of people when they look at your CV, they look for skills. I thought it’d be interesting. I’ve not been the best absorbing things. But it’s been interesting, and I’ve learnt more about being a sound or lighting technician.

“It’s been nice to meet other people. I’ve already completed a drama GCSE. I’m hoping to work in film or media. I’ve enjoyed the course, but this might just become a hobby. I’d definitely recommend it to other people.

Thomas said his teacher suggested the course because he knew Thomas really enjoys music whether it’s producing it, playing it on stage or just generally being around it.

He said: “I knew nothing about lights, so was really interested to learn a lot about that. I knew a lot about the music [side]. It was interesting to hear it from a different perspective other than just music teachers, from a more performance aspect.

“I might see if I can get some contacts through this. Like asking if I can help set up soundchecks. My school does performances and I’ll be doing soundchecks for them.

“Sometimes I’ll go on stage and sing at my school, we do a bunch of different festivals and stages, and they love to get the students involved. This course is going to help me talk to my teachers or whoever’s doing the soundcheck and then we can actually communicate a bit better.

“Before it was very much a one-way language, and I was just sat there nodding. So if I feel the EQ is a bit off I can just go ‘hey, something’s off, can we try something a bit different’. I’d recommend the course because it’s really friendly and gives you the idea of what goes on behind the scenes and how hard people have to work to do it. It really opens your eyes.”

Cian wanted to get more experience in lighting, which is his main area of interest.

“I was hoping to get some ladder training though not expecting it. Also, I wanted to learn a bit more about sound as I hadn’t really explored that and it’s always useful to know more. I leant quite a bit about the sound. I learnt the order stuff needs to go in when they’re being plugged in to make sure everything works, everything is safe.

“Next, I’m going to do some shows with some theatre companies… Mainly I’m thinking City College and seeing if uni would be useful. I’d recommend the course because it’s free so why not spend one day a week, having some fun, learning something at the same time.”

To book your place on the next Youth Tech Team course, email gabby.meadows@thegarage.org.uk or give us a call on 01603 283382. Spaces are limited so best be quick.

If you’re interested in taking a creative class or course you can find out more here and here. Our friendly front of house team is happy to answer any questions.

Give them a call on 01603 283382 or email info@thegarage.org.uk. You can find our latest Covid policy here.

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