How to become a production assistant: Mathilda's story

Meet Mathilda, 24, from Hackney, London. Find out about her job as a production assistant at the Linbury Theatre in Central London. The theatre is one of the Royal Opera House's two stages. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"My job is really exciting! I see the whole process of putting a production together, from the first idea to the closing night."

How would you describe your job?

I work at the Linbury Theatre and help produce operas. My job is to make sure the production process runs as smoothly as possible.

I help with casting, running rehearsals, and liaising with the artists and agents. I also take notes at our production meetings and help organise the research and development workshops that support the creation of new operas.

What skills do you use in your job?

I have to use IT skills as I work on the computer a lot. I use communication skills as I write emails every day to different artists and collaborators. I also use writing skills for putting research, proposals and programmes together.

People management skills are also key in this job. I manage different situations and different personalities. I have to be a friendly, calming, smiling face for the artists.

I definitely use teamwork skills, as I work in a team of four and we all have different backgrounds and strengths. Time management is really important too - I'm often thrown tasks from different directions and I have to be able to prioritise.

Mathilda lived in Venice for a year to study with an opera coach and learn Italian.

Do you draw on any of the subjects that you learnt in school?

I use the skills I learnt in my A-level Music every day as I’m always reading the scores of our productions to understand the work dramatically and musically. I wanted to be an opera singer when I was younger. I trained as a singer which also helps me when we’re casting because knowing about the physicality of voices is really important.

All art forms feed into each other, and the skills I learnt by doing A-level Art definitely gave me an eye for visuals and movement on stage.

Top tips

  • Write to companies and see if you can have a chat with them and observe what they do - I learnt so much about what opportunities were out there this way
  • Give yourself options
  • Don’t let people tell you that you can't do something. If you really want it you'll make it work.

What to expect if you want to be a production assistant (often also referred to as a production co-ordinator)

Mathilda's job is about getting a live show ready from first idea to opening night. When the production is on, she's responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly. If you're interested in working on live shows, a career as a stage manager could be for you. Stage managers makes sure the sets, equipment, and props are ready for the opening of a performance.

  • Assistant production co-ordinator salary: £15,000 to £30,000 per year
  • Assistant production co-ordinator working hours: 39 to 41 hours per week (expect to work in the evenings and at weekends)

What qualifications do you need to be an assistant production co-ordinator?

  • Typical entry requirements: You can take several routes to get into this role. You could do a university course, a college course, an apprenticeship, work towards the role, volunteer, apply directly or a specialist course run by private training providers.
    You could also do a degree in creative media production, film and television production or film and TV studies.
    The entry requirements for these degrees are usually GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and Maths at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) plus 2 A-levels (or equivalent).

This information is a guide (source: LMI for All, National Careers Service, GOV.UK)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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