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‘I learnt an unbelievable amount in my year at The Watermill’

Production and Stage Management trainee Jamie tells us about what he learned from his placement at The Watermill.

Q: What did you learn in your year at The Watermill?


I learnt how to read and understand a lighting plan, and how gels and gobos are used to elevate the lighting design of a show. Gobos are small sheets of metal that slide into the front of a light, to cast images (such as windows or doors) and patterns (such as leaves and clouds) onto the stage, this gives another dimension to the lighting aspect of the performance.

The lighting rig in The Watermill’s theatre

Stage Management

Another aspect is Stage Management. I mostly enjoyed sourcing furniture and props for the production. Previously, I did not realise how much work goes into buying, making, altering, and borrowing props! It really made me understand how much effort goes into making a production come to life, and how specific some props must be.


When it comes to Sound, I learnt how to rig speakers safely and that it is important they point in the right direction, so the audience can clearly hear everything that is happening. I know now how to fit and maintain radio mics – these get put on to the instruments and actors for each show.

The Lone Flyer rehearsal room

I was given the opportunity to Sound Design for the rehearsals of Lone Flyer. I learnt how to use the software Qlab. This file is edited each day from the rehearsal notes that the DSM (Deputy Stage Manager) emails through at the end of rehearsals which gives the alterations that the director would like to be made.


I also had the chance to work in the wardrobe department, which I think is my biggest passion. I have always been interested in garment modification and construction and this gave me the opportunity to learn so many new hand and machine sewing techniques. I found out just how much time can be taken for something that you thought would just be a small alteration. From seeing the initial costume designs, to the fittings, construction, and modification of the costumes, to seeing your work being showcased onstage is one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had.

Q: What was the best thing about the traineeship?

I thought that the best thing about the traineeship was working in the different departments, and seeing first hand the different procedures they each go through to come together at the end to put on amazing performances. I really enjoyed seeing how the show started out in rehearsals, and how it came out as a slightly different, more polished version on the actual show dates.

Another aspect I loved about it was the hands-on learning element of the traineeship, as I am a very visual learner, and found it easier to pick up certain things, like the names of lights for example, a 5Q5 is a small square shaped light, which has 5 LED light bulbs in it.

I also loved the familial aspect of working at The Watermill, everyone is so accepting, loving and helpful and really dedicated to making the shows work to the best of their abilities. Also, if you have any questions whatsoever, people are always happy to help answer them and help you out, no matter how big or small the problem is or may seem.

It really is like a big family and I cannot wait to go back and work there as a freelancer on a show!

Q: Would you recommend it?

I would 100% recommend this position to anyone who does not want to go to university to do a degree straight after college or 6th Form. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience, and gives you an immense amount of experience and in-depth knowledge in such a short space of time.

It also gives you the opportunity to build connections and friendships with designers, directors, stage managers, lighting/sound designers and ops, which may help you find work after you leave The Watermill.

It is such an amazing way to start a career in theatre, in whichever department you are most drawn towards. For example, I showed an interest in working in wardrobe, and was then able to work as a wardrobe assistant on “The Wicker Husband” and “A Christmas Carol.”

As I have said previously, this is a true once in a lifetime experience and if you have an interest in working in theatre, this is a wonderful way to get your foot in the door of the industry.

Applications are now open! Visit Work For Us for more information and to apply. Deadline Sunday 6 June.

The Production and Stage Management Traineeship is supported by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.