Accessibility links

|

Sign In
Basket
Basket

Apprenticeships - Case Studies

Lucy Kevill, Scenic Carpentry Apprenticeship

Where did you see the apprenticeship advertised?
Royal Opera House website. However I found out about them through word of mouth with friends.

What made you apply for the apprenticeship?
It was a good opportunity for me to gain skills and not have the debt of university fees.

Describe a ‘typical day’ as an apprentice at the Royal Opera House?
I get to work, I start working on some wonderful and crazy projects. I learn about what I need to do to improve my skills. Start putting bits of wood together. BISH BASH BOSH!

How do you find the workplace/college balance?
I do a block release time table and I enjoy the flexibility of my time as I struggle with a rigid schedule. It suits me down to the ground.

What do you enjoy most about your apprenticeship?
The people I work with are the most talented and supportive bunch of people I have had the pleasure of working with.

Is the apprenticeship what you expected?
Yes and more!

What are your ambitions for the future?
I want to use the skills I have to travel the world working in many creative ventures and leave a lasting mark on the theatre industry.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for an apprenticeship at The Royal Opera House?
Really go for it and be confident in the fact that you are exactly the right person for the job! You don’t need to be highly qualified to get these apprenticeships, you will get all the training you can dream of, but you need to have the desire to succeed. So just really believe in your potential and others will see it too.

Paddy Hail, Technical Theatre Apprenticeship

Where did you see the apprenticeship advertised?
I saw the apprenticeship advertised through the Royal Opera House website, after I googled apprenticeships in this industry.

What made you apply for the apprenticeship?
The thought of working for a prestigious company and learning on the job was the biggest push to apply for it, but it was more the tasks included within the apprenticeship advertised that made it easier to apply, I found the departments and tasks offered from the apprenticeship beneficial as I hadn’t done some of them so it was a great chance to learn.

Describe a ‘typical day’ as an apprentice at the Royal Opera House?
There isn’t a typical day. It’s not some 9-5 job at a desk, it’s a lot more rewarding than that, coming in the door at 8am to find out that you’re building the BAFTAS it’s insane, then to sit down with the production manager and discuss roles and design of everything. Building something that so many people watched and attended gives you a great feeling about yourself and your job, getting feedback from your bosses and outside contractors makes you feel positive and I love it, it’s just so rewarding.

How do you find the workplace/college balance?
It’s not as bad as you may think, it’s actually quite easy, I go to college one day a week, every week and I get most of my units done that day or whenever I have a spare 10-15 minutes at work, the managers are really supportive and keen for you to balance both work and college and they like to see the commitment that you show for work shown in your college work. They are also very helpful and will sit with you and help you if you need it.

What do you enjoy most about your apprenticeship?
This is a really good question, I enjoy everything about the apprenticeship, from being show assigned and knowing that show inside and out, from the proud feeling after you fully build a show and it goes on stage and you see it. That is a great feeling! From being more involved with the department and having people teach you what you want to learn, everyone is extremely keen to pass on their knowledge to help you with your career. I love the friendship you create with people, and my favourite part so far has been being an apprentice, doing the exhibitions, meeting people and of course wearing my pass with pride!

Is the apprenticeship what you expected?
It is so much more than I expected, I thought it was mainly going to be paperwork in college and every so often I’m working. No, it’s the complete opposite, I’m mainly at work, that’s what I prefer, I really enjoy the element of learning on the job, it’s great, you have people who have been in this industry for years and they pass on their experience to you!

What are your ambitions for the future?
I knew this question would be in here somewhere, my ambitions… my ambitions are to continue with the apprenticeship, one day I would like to have my own company but I enjoy working in a crew too much, I love working in the team here, so I want to apply for a casual job after I leave but my main ambition the main drive for me in the morning is, I want to do the best I can, I want to be able to say I learned my industry at the Royal Opera House!

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for an apprenticeship at The Royal Opera House?
Go for it! I lived in Scotland before this, so I moved down myself and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made, I was only just out of college and I wanted to work, but I really wanted to learn, they have the best on the job training, they have the most friendly staff to work with they have a great aim for young people! I say if it’s what you want, then let nothing stop you achieve your dream!

Sophie Willis, Costume & Footwear Technician Apprenticeship

Where did you see the apprenticeship advertised?
I first saw the advert when I was looking on the internet for costume/clothing related jobs in London. I knew I wanted to be based in London, and didn’t want to be a waitress anymore!

What made you apply for the apprenticeship?
After reading the job description I felt like I had the appropriate and necessary skills for the job. I have always been interested in the costume element of the theatre and I wanted the opportunity to expand my performance knowledge too. I’d only ever really come across straight plays and musicals, so the idea of opera and ballet excited me.

Describe a ‘typical day’ as an apprentice at the Royal Opera House?
There’s no such thing! I remember on my induction day we watched a video and a very jolly guy stated ‘that no two days are the same’. And it’s absolutely true! One day I can be stood side stage quick changing dancers, the next I can be out shopping for fabrics. It can be anything from washing sweaty clothes (underwear and all!) to attending principle fittings, or buying foundation off the high-street to paint ballet flats to match a dancers’ skin tone. There’s even a bit of sewing thrown in to the mix!

How do you find the workplace/college balance?
Interesting! I haven’t had to attend college [Sophie’s qualification is achieved through distance learning]; I think my apprenticeship isn’t really something you can learn on paper. One thing I enjoy is being treated like a normal member of staff meaning I have quite a bit of responsibility because I’m always available.

What do you enjoy most about your apprenticeship?
There are many elements I enjoy. I love working with the performers as their energy and vivaciousness is infectious. Most of the artistes are seasoned pros and as such, just delight in performing. Another part I enjoy are the costumes-they are a testament to hours of hard work, research and devotion. The variety of fabrics and designs, cuts, decorations, fastenings I find fascinating, especially seeing the authenticity with which the period shows are recreated. I love seeing a design realised, moving from concept of a sketch and a few fabric swatches, to a fully-fledged garment. So basically, I’ve just cited everything apart from the washing!

Is the apprenticeship what you expected?
It has surpassed my expectations in so many ways. At points I have been solely responsible for the running wardrobe of a show which has been a genuinely rewarding (and at times, nerve-racking!) experience, which has taught me more than I could have expected. My job is one where, only by doing, do you build the experience and knowledge to fulfil your job description. Nothing can teach you how to keep your cool whilst sewing someone into their trousers after the beginners call, apart from experience-it’s something I never really imagined doing! I never expected to be out buying shoes and fabrics which cost my months’ salary, or spending 9 hours a day sticking individual crystals on pointe shoes, how could anyone expect that?! It’s so much more than washing and ironing!

What are your ambitions for the future?
To be happy! I want to explore costume making, even if only to assist in my work in wardrobe. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, and have the ambition to work at the Sydney Opera House within costume…no point aiming small! Eventually, I’d also like to make wedding dresses-but that’s for quite a bit later on down the line! For now, to carry on learning and enjoying what I do.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for an apprenticeship at The Royal Opera House?
Many people I have worked with have described working within costume as a lifestyle as opposed to a job. And I think it’s a very fair point- in what I do, there’s a lot of late nights, long shifts, weekends and unpredictable schedules. I’ve missed things because I can’t commit very far in advance. I’ve worked 15 hour days. But I wouldn’t change my experience. In general, it’s not glamorous-yes there’s first night parties, but it’s usually after a day of washing sweaty clothes. It’s sometimes a thankless job, yet it’s always rewarding. The satisfaction of getting a show on in time and everyone is happy and looking good is worth the hard work. I’d also say the more skills the better- being able to sew isn’t essential, but it comes in very handy being able to go with what needs doing, having imagination means that you can come up with solutions to the practicalities of dealing with costumes. When I applied I was concerned I didn’t know enough about opera or ballet (actually I’d never seen or heard either!) but you really don’t need to, it’s far more important to have enthusiasm and an aptitude to learn.


You can find out more about the Apprenticeship scheme on our FAQ page.


Apprenticeships at the Royal Opera House are generously supported by the Derek Butler Trust, The Headley Trust, Ashley Family Foundation, Gordon Foundation and the Worshipful Company of Joiners’ and Ceilers Charitable Trust.