Lucy Guyver is CFT's Apprentice Production Manager, and as far as we know the first in the UK. As Lucy comes towards the end of her two-year apprenticeship and applications open for her successor, we caught up to talk about this pioneering role.
In Lucy's own words, a Production Manager 'oversees all the physical and technical aspects of getting a production ready for the stage, making sure the set is built and every department has the time they need to create the vision on stage. You have to keep everyone happy!'
It's a big role, and this apprenticeship has been a unique route into it for Lucy. 'To be a good production manager, you need a lot of experience; it’s hard to get into and it’s still a very male-dominated field, although the number of women is growing. Without this apprenticeship, I doubt I would still be considering it as a career. It’s been pretty life-changing.'
As an apprentice, Lucy has found people will generally say 'yes', so she can run with different ideas and develop her abilities.
'I designed the method of presentation for our virtual model box for The Vortex; it was a first trial of putting the traditional designer's model into VR. It's something theatres have been working towards, but I undertook to teach myself the technology.'
Lucy used her 'downtime' (a relative word at the theatre!) during the winter season to develop her skills, also creating a CFT version of the Theatre Green Book, which is a set of standards for making shows more sustainable. 'I chose to use my time to look into things that were available and needed that I could leave with the Theatre to use'.
In a culmination of her training, Lucy is currently Production Manager for Mom, How Did You Meet The Beatles?
'It's the first in-house show that I've done completely on my own, it has been amazing. I was told in January that I'd be given the project, and then it was my job to make it happen. I've been lucky to work with an incredible creative team; everyone is very good at working alongside each other. It's been great to know that I can do it; being left on my own to get on with it is the best way to realise I can do the job. And I'm doing A Midsummer Night's Dream next!'
After Lucy ends her apprenticeship in September, she'll be taking up the role of Assistant Production Manager at the RSC.
'It's an exciting big step. It's not where I thought I'd be, in a good way. I've been very lucky with the opportunities I've been given. I've had incredible support from Sally at Chichester College who has been with me through this whole process; now it's about taking it and running with it. It's changed my life a lot quicker than I expected it to and there's no way I'd be where I am without this Apprenticeship. Without that, it would have meant years and years of crewing and working my way up the ladder. This has been the best way into what I want to do.'