A Successful Symposium & Our New Steering Group

SDTN Technical Theatre Symposium 2019 in partnership with RCS and NTS:

SDTN 5th Annual Technical theatre Symposium was the best attended yet. This symposium we launched our own initiative to invite delegates to place a note of interest to join a SDTN steering group: SDTN plans to establish a steering group of industry and education to research and inform current Technical Theatre & Production Art and Design standards. Carrying out research into provision of courses to influence improvement in take up of places and pipeline from schools and Youth theatre applicants. The group would meet two times per year from June 2019. We have had four notes of interest. One from a theatre, one form a industry partner, two from a FE partner. If you are interested in joining this group please send your note of interest to: abigail@sdtn.org with your name, job title and place of work.

Symposium Summary

The morning at the NTS production base RockVilla has workshops with:

Sound Design with Richard Price from NTS: This practical sound design workshop with Richard Price where delegates had the opportunity to record, edit and playback vocals. Richard shared sound design techniques and demonstrate how to source sound FX, QLab and Audacity basics, along with sound desk operation on analogue and digital desks.

Scenic Art with Gary Fry from RCS: Delegates Learned a selection of scenic art techniques and gained insider knowledge from Gary on the effects that work best in theatre.

SFX Make Up & Wigs with Michelle Lyons: This workshop with makeup artist Michelle Lyons will provided an overview of the preparation and workings of a theatrical hair and makeup artist. Michelle demonstrated how various looks are achieved and talk about the products involved including how to put on and style a wig and theatrical make up techniques with the opportunity for participants to have practical experience in using some of these products to create fake wounds.

Video Design with Jamie Wardrop: Jamie Wardrop shared his extensive experience of 3D Animation, Installation, Composing, Live Video and Projection Mapping to deliver a practical workshop on the creative and technical process behind video design. The video design workshop explored the exciting range of applications of projection/video content in theatre, dance, installation and live music. He gave overview of how his experience as an actor, theatremaker and VJ for clubs and festivals influences his design practice.

The afternoon Symposium was held in the RCS main Athenaeum theatre with a welcome from Abigail McMillan, Technical Theatre Skills Officer, SDTN and Hugh Hodgart, Chair of SDTN

Then sector sharing Spotlights with Judith Henderson Director, Federation of Scottish Theatre, with a Review of Future Proofing Programme & Update on Gradate Bursaries 2019/20

Heather Cassidy Education & Pathways Associate, Dundee Rep Theatre, talking about 10 Years of Enterprise @ The Rep and the launch of Tenfold

Jesse Paul Fair Access Manager, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland talking about Celebrating Student Journeys with Erin Dougherty RCS Production Art & Design level 2 student

Trent Kim Programme Leader BA (Hons) Digital Art & Design, University of the West of Scotland, Introduced the new 4 year Degree Programme: BA (Hons) New Media Art

Clare Hibberd Lecturer in Sound, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland spoke to us about Theatre Sound curriculum; a Conservatoire Approach. Developing and implementing Equality & Diversity in Teaching Practice

Michael Smalley PhD Candidate & author of the upcoming title “Stage Management” in the Readings in Theatre Practice series, University of Southern Queensland – Reframing Stage Management as Scenographic Communication Design


Eleanor Scott Administrative Producer, Vanishing Point gave an Update of 2019/20 work and Opportunities for Technical Theatre and Production Art & Design Students: The Dark Carnival. There are still SDTN funded tickets available for students in the network for the 2.30pm performance of this on 14th March at Dundee Rep. please visit dundeerep.co.uk or call the box office on 01382 223530 and Quote SDTN5.

We then had a panel discussion with Q&A on Safe Spaces with Jessica Richards, Company Manager, National Theatre of Scotland. Ros Maddison Head of Production, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Abigail McMillan, Technical Theatre Skills Officer, SDTN

“How can education and industry collaborate to equip staff and students to develop a culture of professional respect in the context of safe spaces?”

The Network Ensemble

SDTN’s Graduate Training Programme 2019. Judith Doherty, Chief Executive & Co-Artistic Director of Grid Iron Theatre Company & Technical and Design team Graduates: Murray Wilson Lighting Designer for Snowflake by Mark Thomson 2017. Austyn Drummond Sound Designer for Propeller by Caitlin Skinner 2018 and Alisa Kalyanova Production Designer for Snowflake by Mark Thomson 2017.


This year’s Symposium was the best attended year with nearly 100 delegates over the day attending. The survey monkey is still live and I hope to feedback on this shortly. But in the meantime some of the verbal feedback form delegates was great:

These are taken directly from survey monkey:

Q: Did you find the Spotlight presentations useful? Please explain why:

I really loved the one from Dundee Rep, the RCS lecturer (Sound design) and the Grid Iron member because they focused on engaging young people; there were very inspiring on what our organization could do about engaging more young audiences and helping students with their future career

Q: Did the ‘Safe Spaces’ discussion with Q&A encourage you to have a conversation at your place of work? If it did, please explain why:

Absolutely. Our department doesn’t have anything like that in place and we are thinking of forming a statement like that. It is great to see such big organisations like the RCS and the NTS leading movements like that

Absolutely. This is something that we are now thinking of introducing within our own Acting & Performance courses.

Yes, as we already have much of the vocabulary in place, interesting to see it focussed more and a valuable contribution to further improving our policies and how we deliver them.

Q: Please suggest any Technical Theatre events you would like to see in the future:

A forum on industry expectations for students completing technical theatre courses, how education outcomes can match industry needs. A forum on further skills training and recognised qualifications for those in work and early in their careers, i.e. a post graduation industry training and development strategy.

Q. Did you find the Spotlight presentations useful? Please explain why:

Excellent. A wide range of experience. I have already contacted two of the speakers in relation to my own courses.

Yes – in particular Claire Hibberd and Michael Smalley who both gave insight into the barriers people working in technical theatre face.


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