In focus: Technical Team

In focus: Technical Team

25 March 2018

Joanna Trainor puts the spotlight on technician Ciara Shrager

JT: It’s your third year at NSDF but your first on the tech team. What has been your role in previous years?

CS: In my first year I was the tech swing in a show called Faithless Healer which meant I was the general helper and I also opped sound. Last year I was lighting designer and production manager for Celebration.

What was your favourite thing about the festival?

Can I say Chris Thorpe? The best thing about the first year was it really opened my eyes to a lot. I knew pretty much nothing about theatre but I knew I loved tech. And I just loved all of last year. All of it was good. Even the stuff that wasn’t to do with the team. The workshops. Spending time with the tech team. Making friends.

What are you most looking forward to?

Seeing how it works from the other side. Getting to know people better because I’ve briefly met a lot of techies but didn't really know any of them. Just getting stuck in and being a cog in the machine.

What’s been your experience of collaboration between technicians here?

In Scarborough there was a very clear divide between the seasoned festgoers and the new guys. I think this applied more to the techies than it did the companies as the nature of NSDF means that there are more new companies than there are seasoned festgoers. As a show technician, I was left somewhat in the lurch because all the technicians I met were TAs (technical assistants) who had worked with the festival in Scarborough for many years. It was very different in Hull last year, because more or less everyone was new so it felt like there was much more of a “we're all in it together” sort of vibe.

So after Scarborough, what made you want to come back?

The equipment we're provided with for shows, and to play with backstage, is like nothing we'll ever see in any other sort of festival. With tech, any experience with new shows in new venues is immensely valuable. The past two years have posed their own very different challenges with the shows I've toured to NSDF. Having to troubleshoot them in a very short amount of time, in a venue you walked into four hours ago, is all really useful experience. Also, it's just great fun. Everyone is there to have a good time.

What have you learnt from the festival?

I’ve learnt a lot about working under pressure, about compromising and about touring and making it work. I think, actually, I've learnt more from doing workshops that have nothing to do with tech. With NSDF workshops, I've always tried to do at least one thing that pushes me out of my comfort zone in the sense that it isn't something I'd normally do. I think NSDF is about learning more than just the trade you want to go into, and it's important to leave your comfort zone when you're there because it's a completely supportive environment and the best time to try new things.

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