When Tommy helped in his grandfather’s workshop as a child, he didn’t know that the technical skills he was developing would one day lead to him being introduced to Prince Charles. But that’s exactly what’s happened: “It was strange seeing a picture of us in the paper talking together.”
As a Stage Technician at the world-famous Royal Opera House in London, Tommy is responsible for the smooth running of the technical side of theatre production, the safety of actors on and off stage, and realising the artistic ambitions of the Directors and Set Designers. If a production needs a rotating stage, Tommy’s the one who figures out how to make it happen.
“Productions like Cavalleria Rusticana or Pagliacci require a lot of hydraulics to move the stage and the performers around.”
While Tommy had an interest in engineering from a young age, it took lots of on-the-job training for him to develop the problem-solving and technical skills that he needs for his current job.
After getting a BTEC in Engineering at college, he successfully completed an apprenticeship at the Royal Opera House’s production park in Purfleet.
“We got the chance to hone the core skills needed to be a Stage Technician. Sometimes it was a bit repetitive, but I enjoyed it overall as I learnt so much.”
Fast-forward, and Tommy is now a Technician in the Royal Opera House’s Department of Stage Engineering. Sometimes he finds it a bit surreal that such opulent shows depend on the skills of him and his technical team.
“Initially, my friends couldn’t believe that I was working at the Royal Opera House and helping to put on shows worth hundreds of thousands of pounds!” But it’s true - Stage Technicians like Tommy make theatre and opera happen.
Tommy's career pathway
- 2010 Left school with a BTEC in Engineering and went to South East Essex Technical College and earned an Advanced Engineering qualification
- 2012 Did a three-year apprenticeship in metalwork at the Royal Opera House’s production park in Purfleet while also studying for an NVQ in Practical Engineering
- 2015 Joined the Royal Opera House’s Department of Stage Engineering as a Stage Technician