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Swords, Daggers and Blunderbusses: All in a Day's Work

We speak to an ROH apprentice as she completes an 18-month stint with the Armoury Department.

By Lowri Jones (Apprenticeships and Work Experience Co-ordinator)

10 July 2012 at 12.55pm | Comment on this article

The Royal Opera House recently held a prize-giving ceremony to congratulate apprentice Sabrina Clarke on completing an 18-month apprenticeship with the Armoury Department, the team that produce all of the magnificent weaponry seen on stage.

Creative and hard-working, Sabrina showed unwavering commitment and enthusiasm to learn and develop her skills, which have recently been showcased on stage in an epic new production of Les Troyens. For the staging, Sabrina was tasked with creating hundreds of leather belts, holsters, and daggers for the large cast of singers and actors.

Of the department’s work, Sabrina told us:

“I used skills involved in both metal work and leather work to create weapons, but there is also a certain amount of research needed to make sure everything is historically accurate – there is an extensive collection of books and models here in the Armoury which we use for reference!”

During the lead-up to the production she was able to achieve a Level 2 ABC Award qualification in Leather Goods Production. As well as receiving training at the Royal Opera House, Sabrina spent three months at the Mulberry factory, under the tuition of leather goods industry experts, developing and honing the leather working skills that are required by armourers, as well as an industry-leading fashion brand.

From wig makers and tailors to scenic metal workers and painters, The Royal Opera House employs a huge range of highly skilled staff employed in traditional crafts. The apprenticeship scheme, which was launched in 2007, provides places for up to eight young people every year, offering the chance for them to gain high-quality vocational training with some of the best in the industry. If you are interested in the scheme, take a look at the Areas of Interest Form on our website - if you fill in out we can let you know when opportunities are coming up.

Following the completion of her apprenticeship, Sabrina hopes to undertake some work next season with the Armoury department, as well as travelling to Italy in search of work with an Italian Opera House or theatre. Equipped with the invaluable skills and experience she has gained during her time at the Royal Opera House, we are certain Sabrina has a promising future ahead of her in the theatre industry – we wish her well!

Sabrina’s Armoury Apprenticeship was run in association with Bridgwater College, Somerset, and is generously supported by The Radcliffe Trust and The Armourers and Brasiers’ Gauntlet Trust.

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