Matt Ward came to us in 2014 from Dallam to complete his Level 2 in Theatre & Events Technology, and has recently finished the Level 3 course (equivalent to 3 A-Levels). Matt has set up his own business whilst on the course and won ‘Student of the Year’ at the end of year Prize Giving Ceremony.
We interviewed Matt in May, when he was working on Urinetown: The Musical.
Adele: Why did you choose this course?
Matt: When I was at Dallam there was no-one who knew how to do the tech for events. The school had all the equipment but the teachers didn’t really know how to use it. I taught myself how to do the lighting and sound for their shows, musicals and staff events. I was no good at the performing side of drama but I found the technical side interesting and came to love it, so this course was perfect for me.
Adele: Why did you choose Kendal College?
Matt: I went for a look around and thought it was awesome. I applied and am very glad I did. I wouldn’t have any of the paid work I have now if I hadn’t have come to College and made so many amazing contacts.
Adele: What do you most enjoy about College life?
Matt: The hands-on experience and the lie-in on Monday morning!
Adele: What is the teaching style like on your course?
Matt: We learn though demonstrations & practical work. For example, we are let loose on the desks and our tutor helps us to work things out!
It’s mainly practical (probably about 90% of the course) doing set building, sound and light engineering. We blog about what we are doing each day and have regular production meetings.
Adele: Can you describe a typical day at College?
Matt: It changes every day. One day we’ll be doing set, the next day we could be working on sound, the next day doing blog work. It’s really varied. We also go out and support local events like Kendal Mountain Festival and the Comic Arts Festival. This has given me links to other festival work and lots of contacts in the industry.
At the moment, we are working on the end of year show, Urinetown, which is a comedy about having to pay for public toilets. Today we’ve been marking out where all the sets are going to be in the studios, designing the set to look like a sewer, building a spinning platform, sliding doors, and lots of other complicated things!
We’re in College 5 days a week at the moment preparing for the show. It’s usually 3 ½ days, which gives me days off to support my business and work on freelance events. You learn so much from your own outside work, as you get experience of working with customers. My tutor is really supportive of this.
Adele: So, you’ve started your own business, how’s that going?
Matt: Really good, it’s called MJW Audio. College has given me the knowledge to run my own business and it’s going from strength to strength. The contacts I’ve made at College has enabled me to get paid freelance work, which has helped me to buy equipment for my own business and expand my knowledge. I sometimes work freelance at the Brewery Arts Centre and Bootleggers – working with a wide variety of production companies and bands.
I’m doing a lot of festival & show work. My next job is sound for 900 choir singers coming to the Leisure Centre. They are doing a performance with 200 people on stage and running a variety of workshops. I’ll be doing all the sound tech for them.
I also do all the tech for Kendal Torchlight carnival – setting up the equipment for the street party, sorting all the microphones & sound for the dance area, and setting up the equipment for some of the carnival floats.
Adele: How would you describe your College experience?
Matt: Excellent, I’ve made lots of friends and made loads of work contacts.
Adele: What other opportunities have you had as a student at the College?
Matt: I’ve had 3 work placements at the Brewery Arts Centre. I’ve got to know them and this has resulted in paid freelance work. I’ve also been on the past 2 London trips – being able to see backstage in the theatres and seeing the shows has been amazing. On the last trip, I met a previous student who now works for Autograph, a company providing equipment and engineers for most of the big West End shows.
Adele: What are you hoping to do after College?
Matt: I had an offer at Backstage Academy in Wakefield to study their Live Event Production degree. I’ve deferred my entry as I would like to continue with local work and see what happens. I would also like to expand my company more so would have more time to do this. I already have lots of paid work in the industry and my business is going well, so instead of going to university, I’m considering doing specific training days e.g. working at heights, lighting and sound console training, etc as many of these courses are free.
I’m also looking into the Level 4 teaching course starting in September at College. I enjoy passing on information to people and think this is something I would enjoy.
Another option is to do the full-time electrical course at College. It would give me the electrical knowledge to do bigger installations and would still give me time to work freelance and run my business.
I love sound engineering so will be concentrating on that. I do a lot of sound work for bands, such as The Seals and many others at Bootleggers. You get to meet so many different bands and performers! After this course you could tour with bands or theatre companies, work on festivals or in arenas – there are so many opportunities!
Adele: If you could give one piece of advice to people considering College, what would it be?
Matt: Come & have a look around! Coming to College has definitely widened my options. The more you put in, the more you get out of it.
Adele: Two Quick Fire Questions to finish on…
Adele: Dream band to tech for?
Matt: I love working with The Seals and other local bands, but my dream band to tech for would have to be The Killers or Coldplay.
Adele: Claim to fame so far?
Matt: Last year, I did the lighting for Jason Manford at Kendal Leisure Centre.
If Matt has prompted an interest in Theatre & Events Technology @ Kendal College, we offer a fantastic range of courses. Start your future on our website.
The interview was conducted by Adele Mundy, the College’s Student Services Manager.