Congratulations to Design for Performance graduate Millie Lamkin, who’s the very first person to be awarded the new RWCMD and Theatre Clwyd traineeship.
Set up to tackle the lack of diversity in offstage roles in the performing arts industry, the 18 month paid role supports a new graduate to work in all areas of a theatre producing house. Millie started in Sept and already has lots of news and experiences to share with us.
Why did you originally come to study at RWCMD?
I stumbled across the RWCMD website years before I was even seriously considering design as a career. I remember how excited I was by just the concept of the course. It looked incredible, and I kept it in the back of my mind as I did a fine art foundation degree at Central Saint Martins.
This lead me towards design and gave me the time to really consider which creative path I wanted to take. I also took some puppetry courses at the National Theatre to widen my experience before starting at College.
How did the Theatr Clwyd placement come about?
Lucy Hall who is a senior design lecturer, has been building a relationship with the theatre and worked alongside Theatr Clwyd to create this amazing opportunity for a third year design student. An 18-month traineeship straight out of graduating is an incredible opportunity.
How has studying at RWCMD helped with the job?
It’s given me confidence. The design course has given me the chance to explore loads of different avenues, like scenic construction, design, costume and puppetry, so I feel well-rounded. This has course got me to a point where I felt ready for the industry. I still have a lot to learn, but I need to do that in the real world!
Before this degree, I couldn’t imagine ever feeling ready to work in the theatre industry, but by the end of it I couldn’t wait to start my first job.
Having the opportunity to design a realised show at the end of my third year, working alongside a director from the industry on the College’s production of Indecent (in my case, the wonderful Zoe Templeman-Young) was the final push I needed. The experience made me confident in my love for design, and becoming a ‘proper professional’ designer felt within my reach.
What will you be doing as part of the traineeship?
The traineeship allows me to follow my own particular interests and focus, so I’ll be working in the different creative departments at the theatre over the 18 months (across scenic and costume). Theatr Clwyd is one of only four theatres in the UK to still have its own inhouse wardrobe and workshop so I can get all the experience I need on site. I’ll be assisting designers on different shows produced by the theatre, as well as having the chance to design a show of my own.
What are you looking forward to most?
Building relationships, and having the chance to work with different designers and creatives. It feels exciting to meet so many people from the industry and have the chance to see how they all work, and to learn from them. I can’t wait to have the chance to design my show. I’m hoping to collaborate with the lovely Juliette Manon, the trainee director at Theatr Clwyd.
What have been your highlights so far?
Scenic assisting on The Famous Five was a great way to start the job, as it’s a new musical with quite a young cast. It was exciting getting to work on my first professional show. The scenic department (Katy Salt and Kelly Selvester) are amazing and have been super welcoming, and I have already learned masses. I’ve got much more confident in my scenic painting skills – love myself a Purdy brush!
I got to take the show on tour and saw the show move from North Wales to Chichester, which was a great opportunity. I was responsible for any damage to the scenic elements of the set, as well the upkeep of some of the props. This is an incredibly prop heavy show, so lots of them needed extra love, repairing work on props including Kirrin castle and paper aeroplanes.
I’m currently scenic assistant on panto and I am enjoying all the glitter. I’m very much looking forward to poly-carving a horse… hopefully more glitter will be involved in the making!
What have you learnt so far? Any tips you can pass on?
Show willing and be enthusiastic! The more open you are to new opportunities, the more people are willing to help you out and work with you. I’ve already learnt loads from just listening and chatting with numerous colleagues in the industry about their experiences, which will help me become a better designer in the long run. Being willing to travel is also quite important. In the first couple of weeks working at Theatr Clwyd I went to London to meet the set designer and cast of The Famous Five and saw the show in rehearsal. This gave me a great insight into the whole process of putting a professional show together.
As members of Stage Sight, RWCMD partnered with Theatr Clwyd to actively tackle the lack of diversity in off stage roles in the performing arts industry, playing a part in contributing to the creation of an off stage workforce that’s more reflective and inclusive of a 21st century society. By providing financial support for an extended period through education and professional development we hope to remove some of the economic barriers facing potential students underrepresented in the industry.