Zoe Lyndon-Smith is one of CFT’s Technical Theatre Apprentices. Apprenticeships offer a way into work with on-the-job training and formal qualifications, all whilst earning a wage. They’re one way that CFT is helping more young people to launch their careers in the theatre industry – supported by our Light a Spark fundraising campaign!
As Zoe comes to the end of her two-year training, she chats to us about what she’s learned and her plans for the future.
Why did you want to get into a career in the theatre? And why this apprenticeship at CFT?
Theatre has always been in my life, but I never really thought about what careers there could be in the industry that weren't performing. I took some time away from education and, in that year, I was fortunate enough to see some amazing pieces of theatre - a lot of them musicals. When watching these shows I always had a million questions buzzing around my head: where do these huge set pieces live when they’re not on stage? How did they do that insane quick change? How does any of that work? So I guess I wanted some answers and that’s when I started looking into backstage jobs. CFT was an obvious choice to make as I’ve always loved the work it produces and it’s such a well-respected theatre. To be given the chance to work here really has been incredible.
What have you learned during your apprenticeship?
What I love about this apprenticeship, and this type of job, is that every day is a learning day. I am constantly learning new ways of doing things, from rigging to creating paperwork to building sets. But I’ve also learnt the importance of communication and preparation, something you need to sustain to be able to work in this industry. It’s been two years of constant learning which I have loved and embraced and I look forward to learning even more.
Do have any favourite memories from your time at CFT so far?
That’s impossible to choose! I’ve been lucky enough to work on many shows and with every new show come new memories with amazing people, people who I admire and respect and people who have become friends. But most of all I just remember the laughter.
Having said that, one moment that does stick out was when I was working on The Wind in the Willows. During that period, I was reminded by a friend of my very first show at CFT (Sleeping Beauty in 2018) and told to look at how far I’d come. The whole experience still seems surreal and I am so grateful that everyone trusted me enough to be given the opportunity to call [all the technical cues for] the show. It was the best way to end my apprenticeship.
What are you plans for your future career? Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
I want to go into stage management; more specifically I want to be an assistant stage manager. Who knows what’s going to happen in five years’ time but as long as I’m still working in theatre and creating magic, I don’t think I’ll mind.
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