Turning the spotlight onto our backstage team for world theatre day

Turning the spotlight onto our backstage team for World Theatre Day

This World Theatre Day, we’re turning the spotlight onto the just some of the people who quietly add beauty, depth, and meaning to our performances, and, crucially, make them run.


As the School’s Senior Theatre Technician, Gareth’s role is to facilitate all the production needs across the School, including the lighting, sound, management of the stage and other technical needs. He’s also responsible for making sure all performances are filmed for our ever-growing archives. More recently, this has also involved live-streaming productions. He also helps to coordinate production and technical needs for the School’s external performances, liaising with the Royal Opera House technical teams, a process which starts in September and runs through to the final performance on the main stage.

How did you become a theatre technician?

My parents actually met working backstage (only as a hobby though!) in a theatre local to where I grew up. My mum used to follow-spot and my dad was in charge of ‘flying’ the scenic elements in and out. I used to dance myself as a child, so theatre and more specifically technical theatre is something I was around from a young age. I got my first job at 16 working in an event company’s warehouse on the weekends, and it’s the only job/industry I’ve worked in since!

What has been your favourite production/piece to work on at The Royal Ballet School?

There have been quite a few, I enjoy all the choreographic performances at the School, as it’s a chance to work with the students on their own ideas for lighting and help to realise them. Personally, I think Eccentric Pulses was my highlight of last year’s Summer Performances. I thought it was a great piece and having been the one to light it originally, it was great to see it reimagined from a lighting perspective on the Opera House main stage. [Eccentric Pulses was a piece choreographed by then 2nd Year student Guillem Cabrera Espinach for the 2022 Ursula Moreton Emerging Choreographer performances, which was then performed at our Opera Holland Park performances and at the matinée performance at the Royal Opera House.]

What would be your dream production to work on, in any art form/media?

My dream production to work on would probably be in the sound team for the musical Once. All the music is played live by the actors on stage, and they switch instruments multiple times throughout the show, which poses a unique challenge from a sound point of view, which is my specialism and main passion.

Other than that, Complicite’s The Master and Margarita is probably the defining piece of theatre from a technical point of view that I’ve seen, and I’d highly advise going to see it if it is ever produced again in the UK!

What do you wish more people knew about being a theatre technician? 

For most theatre technicians and backstage staff, it’s not just a job but also their passion, much like performers on stage. We are perfectionists and want to get the best results in the time available!

What do you love about working on productions?

My favourite thing about working on productions is the variety, and that no two performances are ever the same, each comes with its own set of unique challenges and problems to solve!


Tom is an alumnus of the School. He is a performer and alongside that he works in tech support, production, photography, and videography.

Can you tell us a bit about your role?

The role of a stage manager is to oversee the production of a performance, responsible for coordinating the work of all the different departments involved. I also manage the backstage area during performances and make sure that everything runs smoothly.

The job of a stage manager is demanding and challenging, but it is also very rewarding. We get to work with a variety of talented people and help to create something special.

How did you become a stage manager and production technician?

I’ve worked at The Royal Ballet School since graduating in various production roles and have developed my skills throughout that time. Having experience as a professional dancer and valuable knowledge about the School really helps my understanding of what is required for this role.

What do you wish more people knew about being a stage manager and production technician?

A lot of work goes into making the shows run, we are always first in and last out of the theatre.

It’s also a rewarding field. There is nothing quite like seeing a show come together and knowing that you helped make it happen.

What do you love about working on productions?

Productions are a great place to be creative. There is always something new to learn and experiment with. It is enjoyable to be a part of creating something that people can appreciate and be entertained by. Productions are always full of challenges. It is satisfying to find solutions to problems and overcome obstacles!


Anja is our Wardrobe Supervisor who works with 140 students who have to have fitted uniforms, body uniforms, school uniforms, and costumes.

How did you become a wardrobe supervisor?

It was actually thanks to my friend who went to a ballet show at the Royal Opera House.

She started following The Royal Ballet School on Instagram, saw a post advertising the role, and said, ‘Anja! This is for you!’ I was doing something completely different at the time, but I thought, ‘why not?!’ My background is in fashion, not costume or theatre. But I do specialise in stretch materials and I have worked with ballerinas before so I tried and now I’m here and I really enjoy it. It’s a great bunch of amazing people who work here. I’m completely sold.

What has been your favourite production or piece to work on at the school?

I haven’t been here too long, but I really enjoyed working on the Kenneth MacMillan Emerging Choreographer performance. Collaborating with the students was so great [the students choreograph and set their own pieces, including costume ideas]. They were all very mature. I didn’t even feel like they were students. They’re at such a high level. Everyone here is.

What would be your dream production to work on, in any art form/media?

I like working on contemporary pieces. I would really like to see a new version of The Nutcracker. I don’t know if it’s possible or will ever happen, but I think that would be great. Or something very romantic, like Giselle. My dream would be to work on something that hasn’t been done. Maybe something classical with a contemporary edge.

What do you wish that more people knew about being a wardrobe supervisor?

I think the title wardrobe supervisor is a bit outdated. Now, we have to basically manage the department so you need to be equipped with a varied set of skills. You have to have very good administrative and communication skills, computer skills, financial and budgeting skills, you have to be very good with colours, have a sense of style, and know how to make things come to life. It’s quite a complex role. Maybe the title comes from the movie industry, where their role is more to maintain clothes.

What do you love about working on productions?

I really, really enjoy working with people. So I love working together; bouncing ideas off people, pushing boundaries, and coming to the best possible outcome. That’s what I love.