Will is a stage electrician for the Welsh National Opera

Will Darke, Live Event Technology graduate now working for WNO

Will Darke, originally from Nottinghamshire, moved to Cardiff to study BSc (Hons) Live Event Technology. Before this, he studied ICT, Business and Media A-Level at Retford Post 16 Centre whilst working part time as a Theatre Technician at The Regal Theatre, Worksop.

Will now works full time as a Stage Electrician for the Welsh National Opera, having previously worked at the New Theatre, Cardiff.

About my job

"There are many enjoyable aspects to my job, but one of the main ones is diversity.

My job has three parts: workshop, production and tour. During workshop time, I work with a team of electricians to service, PAT and maintain the company’s vast lighting and sound stock.

During production, I focus and programme an allocated show with one of the Heads of Department and the show’s Lighting Designer.

During touring, I travel to a different city each week to install our electrics rigs into a theatre and focus, programme and operate my show. This means the job doesn’t really get boring, just quite tiring at times.

A particularly enjoyable aspect of the job is sitting in a large auditorium behind a lighting desk and, at the end of a performance, audience members thanking me for a job well done - even though they probably don’t know what I’ve done!

One of the highlights of my career to date is working as the Broadcast Technical Manager for Lighting and Rigging at the Baku 2015 European Games in Azerbaijan. Over two months, I worked with a team to implement hundreds of systems into some 20 venues across the country. Leaving Chrystal Hall and looking back onto the vast venue on the final day of play, after implementing every design on time and budget was a proud moment.

Working in the entertainment industry is a good job because of the variety of the work. For most people, every day is quite different with a change of show or gig. These shows also usually vary in location, sometimes nationwide and worldwide, which means you get to see the world for free. For example, in March I will be going from a week at the WMC in Cardiff to two weeks in Dubai to a week in Milton Keynes and then onto a UK tour.

There are also some very good paying jobs to be had if you learn the skills and have the determination to go out and get them. I guess the only downside of the job is that it can be very long, anti-social hours.
 

About the course

I decided to study Live Event Technology because I wanted to make a career in the entertainment industry. I had the option to enter the industry through work experience and 'on-the-job learning' however I felt moving away and studying would give me the opportunity to become independent and learn in a safe and controlled environment.

Without moving to Cardiff and studying at USW I do not think I would have the same independence, nor do I think I would be in this job today.

Studying Live Event Technology has helped me vastly in my career, even the things I thought would be of no use whatsoever have become invaluable at times. For example, the third year lighting module came in very handy when I was handed a lighting design for a 69,870-seat stadium.

If you are working as a more general technician or engineer within industry you have to gain a very good working knowledge of all disciplines, which is something, the course teaches you.

During my final year I was given a real life event to work on, a film night at Castell Coch. On this event I was the Production Electrician, which required me to allocate power to the whole of the site and deal with the individual needs of the departments.

The opportunity to work as a professional on a real event in a safe environment proved invaluable experience. I now work as a full time Electrician within the entertainment industry, however Castell Coch Film Night will always remain one of my favourite events."