The lights were dimmed on theatres last week following the Government’s guidelines. One, Workington’s Carnegie Theatre, said: ‘We are determined to survive, to retain our dedicated team, and to get our shows back on track as soon as possible’.

Here we go behind the scenes with one member of that team, technician Rachael Boyle, 25, interviewed before the curtain fell.

Employer: Carnegie Theatre & Arts Centre.

Where are you from? Maryport.

Where do you work? KFC and Carnegie.

How long have you done this job? I’ve been working at Carnegie since December 2019.

Take us through a typical day: There’s no typical day when working in the Carnegie. But, on a day where we have a touring company come in, we will be in about hour or two before the company to set up.

This might be bringing in steel decking, taking all the seating out of the audience, running cables or focusing lighting.

Once we have welcomed the company to the venue, and showed them around we would then help them bring in all their equipment, and this can include scenery, instruments, props, lighting fixtures to name a few.

The set up of the show will start now we have all we need. Once the set up is done there is sometimes time for a little rehearsal, this is normally in line with sound checks, especially for music shows.

During the shows themselves I can be either running lighting or sound, being a stagehand backstage, or with self-sufficient performances I could be working on separate maintenance until I’m needing for the get-out.

Other days could be set aside for maintenance alone. In the first few weeks of working for the Carnegie there was two weeks set aside so that maintenance could be done on the theatre. For my part in this, it included de-rigging all the lighting fixtures and checking for breakages and cleaning them.

I also started on a project of organising the lighting gels (pieces of plastic used to colour the incandescent lighting fixtures): this is part of a long-term project of organising the workshop myself and others work in.

What do you like most about the job? I love that no day is the same. I’m challenged daily to think of how to get tasks done, especially while I’m learning how the Carnegie is run and what procedures are in place for different performances.

Being in theatre has given me so many other opportunities. I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled to Asia, the Caribbean and Europe while working as a stage staff with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

Being accepted for who I am, While as the Carnegie I’ve never had my abilities questioned (links to next question). While at the Carnegie I’ve never had my abilities questioned, or assumed by any of the team.

What do you like least? Sexism has been an issue I’ve come across in this industry.

Being a woman in the production side of theatre is rare. In addition to this, being a technician is stereotypically seen as a male profession. While in past theatre jobs, I experienced having my abilities to do my job being questioned due to being a woman.

This was normally in the form of people taking things out of my hands with the mindset of I wasn’t/shouldn’t be able to lift things.

I would also have to work harder to prove myself as a technician, and so get the respect of my peers.

Why did you want to do this job? I’ve always loved theatre. So once I left working on cruise ships, I wanted to find a way to get back into theatre.

Working at the Carnegie was perfect. The hours are flexible, with the ability to increase them in time. I would be working on different types of shows, and learning so many different skills along the way.

What jobs have you done previously? Before working at the Carnegie, I worked on cruise ships for two and a half years, and before that I was at Canterbury Christchurch University studying a BA in Theatre Production.

Before that I was in A-levels and school, at Netherhall, during which time I was always working on some sort of show within the Ellen Theatre.

What qualifications or experience do you need? A lot of technicians work mostly from experience and don’t acquire qualifications to do their jobs.

Personally, I gained most of my knowledge from working towards my qualifications. And now I’m building on that knowledge with experience.

There are some licences that make being a technician a lot safer such as, working at height, manual handling and Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP).

What is a typical salary for this job? Salary’s for this job vary massively from role to role. It can depend on the company your working for, if you are part of a union, and your experience can have a baring on it too.

Any advice for people wanting to get into your profession? Be willing to adapt to last-minute changes and be able to work under pressure.